Denison, Iowa

13 days before the election
Population (Estimated): 7,000
2004 Election: Bush 55%, Kerry 44%, Other 1%
2008 Election: Obama 52%, McCain 47%, Other 1%
(map)

Apprehension. Alarm. Anxiety. Dread. Disaster. Disorder.

There’s a shortage of funds, but no lack of alliterated words to capture the state of the collective psyche from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin. Even doctors in Chicago worry about the end of America as superpower.

But then there was Denison. Our choice of locales in Western Iowa, presented us with a town where the concern isn’t closed storefronts but what’s in them. Where there’s enough work to go around and no great fear that it will shrivel away with the collapse of the stock market. How is Denison fending off the feisty dogs of financial destruction?

Immigrants. Lots of them.

One question we ask everyone is how their town has changed in the last 8 years. And everywhere but Denison the response was related to the town’s economic situation. In this town of just under 8,000 the answer immediately turned to the town’s demographic situation and all the issues: legal status, language barriers, school expansion, racism, that go along with the arrival of a new population.

Denison may indeed be our shift from East to West, each of the next few stops, in Colorado in Nevada are among the fastest growing communities in America. Are they fragile Jenga towers waiting for the wrong piece the be pulled out or firm structures built to withstand the tornado that is wiping out the East?

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