Many of the journalists covering this year's presidential campaign are deeply embedded, spending months following the candidates as they crisscross the country, hanging on every debate nuance or poll number fluctuation.
But for the reporting team of Robert Wallis and Jennifer Wallace, it was their view from a distance and their experience witnessing elections in other countries that made them seek out the voters of Florida. They wanted to learn more about what they perceive to be an increasingly polarized landscape of political opinion playing out on the airwaves and in the voting booth in America.
Robert Wallis / Panos Pictures
"I like Obama as a person but I don't like his politics," says 77-year-old Carrie Johnson of St. Augustine. "I'm a Republican. I was raised in a household that believed in paying your own way."
Photojournalist Wallis wrote in an email to NBCNews.com:
The idea for this project came from work I did in Russia in the mid 1990s. I covered the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 90s, as a photographer working for Time Magazine. In 1996 Russia held its first ever presidential election. Instead of following the candidates as part of the media pack I decided to step off the campaign bus and talk to ordinary Russians about the momentous changes their country was facing. There was an extreme polarization of opinion in Russia at that time involving the choice of whether to try and hold on to vestiges of their old system or to fully embrace free-market capitalism.
As an ex-pat American living abroad for more than 25 years I have watched the growing polarization in American politics from afar, particularly after the election of President Obama to his first term in office. I decided to come to Florida to take a "vox-pop" approach to a presidential campaign once again. Florida is a key swing state and was at the forefront of one of the most controversial elections in American history in 2000. I was born and raised in Florida so the project was also a return to my roots.
"I voted for Obama last time, partly because he stood for a new racial tolerance, and I will stay with the devil I know than one we don't know," says Armando Rivas Senior, seen here with his son, Armando Jr."
The reporting duo describe their process:
We found our subjects by chance, at football tailgate parties, at restaurant counters, in beach parking lots, after church services and outside gun shows, among other places.
After speaking to dozens of voters, writer Wallace reflected:
As a British journalist, I was struck by the repeated mention of God in people's comments. Religion does not feature in British politics, but in America it is an issue, influencing the debate and palpable at campaign rallies where pastors will offer a prayer before speakers come to the platform. I was also interested in hearing the heated opinions about healthcare, coming as I do from the country which created the National Health Service, the world's largest publicly funded healthcare system, in 1948. In Britain, the NHS is often referred to as the "third rail", so dear to the nation's heart that, despite its cost, no party can conceive of abolishing it.
In the end, the reporting team found that voters shared divergent opinions, but could agree on one thing -- they want the truth:
A repeated observation we encountered is that the media is so politicized that it's hard to get a sense of the objective truth any longer. While people on the right accuse the mainstream media of having a liberal bias, those on the left often characterize it as being controlled by corporate interests. Nevertheless people were generally friendly and eager to speak with us if they felt their own point of view was being honestly reported. We did not challenge statements that were made to us in order to encourage people to voice their opinions freely.
Robert Wallis / Panos Pictures
In the key battleground state of Florida, divergent opinions separate voters with just over two weeks until the election.
More politics slideshows:
On the campaign trail
Twin sons of different parties
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