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ELECTION SHOWS NEW AMERICA

I voted in my first presidential election in 1940. My candidate lost.

Since then, my won-lost record shows more wins than losses but not overwhelmingly so. After 72 years of voting for president, I realize that clues to the outcome of our recent election were right there on television for all of us to see.

Maybe not all of us paid enough attention.

The TV coverage often focused on party volunteers canvassing the neighborhood to get out the vote. One sequence on the Republican side showed two well-dressed women walking through an obviously upscale neighborhood, ringing doorbells and chatting with the neighbors who answered the door. This was often followed by the planting of a Romney sign in the front lawn. Obviously, they preached to the choir.

Another memorable sequence took place in an ordinary big city neighborhood. The Democratic volunteers looked very everyday in their casual attire as did those who answered the door. The volunteers took a slightly different approach, putting more emphasis on the importance of getting out and voting while also stressing the importance of each and every vote.

Early voting and Election Day coverage showed long lines of patient people waiting hours to cast their ballot.

"I don't see any millionaires or fashionistas in those lines," I said to my wife.

There was coverage of a seemingly endless assortment of political rallies including the one at Land O'Lakes High School for Mitt Romney. I remember the GOP rallies that had cameras panning over a sea of white faces. By contrast, cameras at Democratic rallies found faces in many colors. It was the same at each party's convention. In short, we saw the old America and the new America.

The new reality also reflects why most major polls got the wrong results. Although all types of phones were called, calls to land lines were in the majority. Something, perhaps not measurable, was the determination of lower and upper middle-class voters.

New Americans are found in many places. Look at lists of valedictorians or those in various professions and you will see what I mean. As in the past, new immigrants are bringing new life and a new spirit to our American way of life and the American Dream.

Retired journalist James Pettican lives in Palm Harbor.

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