Arkansas: Red-Staters Got the Economy Blues

Polls indicate state will go McCain, but economy may nudge some voters to Obama.

ByDavid Muir
September 25, 2008, 2:28 PM

HELENA, ARK.<br>Sept. 25, 2008&#151; -- The first high school football game of the season is a welcome escape from a troubled economy here.

Helena is hurting; the town needs jobs. Arkansas has lost another 6,000 manufacturing jobs, just this year.

Darius West is Helena's biggest star -- the top high school football player in the state.

Darius just announced he's staying in town to play football for the University of Arkansas. It's a shining moment for a challenged city.

Darius's mom, Debra West, said some people in Helena have to decide, do I pay for gas today or buy food?

"People struggling to pay for simple things, like a meal for their kids!" Debra West said. "That's a struggle they go through every day."

Polling indicates the state will go to Sen. John McCain in the presidential election. But president Bill Clinton said this week that that Arkansas, which voted for President Bush in the last two elections and for native son Clinton in 1992 and '96, could go either way in November.

Even within families, voters are divided.

Little Rock couple Tate and Ashley Olinghouse joke about how their 10-week-old boy will vote one day, in a household where mom and dad disagree.

Both say the economy is their No. 1 issue, but they differ on how to fix it.

"We are in a time that we don't need to be rolling the dice in, in choosing somebody that's untested and unproven," Ashley said. "And, especially when we have a candidate such as Senator McCain who is so proven and tested."

Tate broke in to ask, "But isn't the question: How have the last eight years -- how has that worked out for us, and…?"

"No. That's not the question."

"OK. It just feels that way," Tate said.

"No! Because I think that each represent an element of change. It's just which kind of change are you looking for," Ashley said.

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