My anecdote about the political ground game

Three days before the election, walking down State Street, the old-fashioned shopping area in my home town of Redlands*, California. This is a city that went for Barry Goldwater when I was a kid and that has been part of a solidly Republican Congressional district for most of the time since then. For the last 30 years it has supported Rep. Jerry Lewis, once the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and more recently under Federal investigation for doing favors for lobbyists. (His opponent this year is Tim Prince.)

In a State Street storefront that was some kind of variety discounter the last time I saw it, I now see... Obama headquarters! And it is packed. Old people. College students. Everybody on the phones. People walking in and out with material supporting Obama, Biden, and the rest of the Democrats. I cannot emphasize enough how unusual this is. California may be a blue state, but this part of it has not been.

Most of the yard signs around town seem to be McCain-Palin. But in other times, nearly all of the yard signs would have been Republican. A bustling, unembarrassed Democratic headquarters here takes me by surprise.

* Personal note: I spent practically no time in the United States during 2007 but have traveled repeatedly from Beijing to Redlands this year. This reason, as mentioned earlier, is the declining health of my father, which will keep me from from dealing with email or doing much more on this site for a while.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

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