November 4th, 2008
08:15 AM ET

Discovering what the election's about

Why is this election important? AC360° producer Chuck Hadad took a cross-country road trip to find out.
Why is this election important? AC360° producer Chuck Hadad took a cross-country road trip to find out.

Chuck Hadad
AC360° Producer

My boss pulled me into his office one afternoon in late May and dropped a bombshell: “We want you to do a short documentary about the election. Come back to us with an idea and as long as we’re on board, we want you to go for it.” It would be my first shot at being on-air and I was thrilled.

I came back a week later with an idea that was as ambitious as perhaps it was foolish. This was my official pitch:

Although I’m not a veteran political pundit, I’ve voted in 3 elections and been a part of covering as many in my career here at CNN. I grew up in a family highly attuned to politics which lead to our own lively round table discussions at dinner growing up (especially the last election when my Mom voted for Bush, my Dad for Kerry).

I’m old enough to remember Reagan’s reelection, the Iran-Contra scandal, the end of the Cold War, Bush 1, the recession, the surprise victory of the Governor from Arkansas, the triumphs, defeats and controversies of the entire Clinton presidency and everything in between.

With that knowledge both on the job and leading up to it, this Presidential election just seems bigger, the stakes higher, the difference between one man or the other massive and the emotion for the entire country at a fevered pitch. For lack of a better word, this election just feels more important than any one in my lifetime. While the candidates go into general election mode, they no doubt have their talking points on why they’re the best to lead. But I’m not interested in their rhetoric which gets blasted around the world on many platforms on a daily basis.

I want to know what the country thinks. And I plan to find out driving from the east coast to the west and polling as many people in the process with one simple question: Why is this election so important?

My boss in his infinite wisdom enthusiastically gave me the green light and I made my epic journey in late June.

In seeking out the voices of many individuals, I wanted to discover some universal truth. I talked to dozens of people from coast to coast and was shocked, inspired and entertained every step of the way. Although some top issues were the war in Iraq, healthcare and the balance of the Supreme Court, gas prices were overwhelmingly people’s biggest concern.

Days are like weeks and months like years in a Presidential campaign and it truly feels like it was a simpler time, ages ago that our biggest issue was how much we’re spending at the pump and not the economy itself falling apart. Also, the campaign has gotten markedly nastier since my summer road trip and although I suppose that was to be expected, it still feels as if, like the candidates, we’ve all aged a bit through the process.

Although so much has happened over these last months, back then, I had one overwhelming thought about the experience that has stayed with me even as I write these words on Election Day … virtually EVERYONE I spoke with was invested in this election and for me, an electorate actually voting is the most important thing about this election.

Filed under: 2008 Election • Behind The Scenes • Chuck Hadad
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Sharon Kitchen

    Today is the first day of the new journey for these United States . We will be taking these steps together. All people that think just one thing is important enough to get up and out to vote for are exercising their "right". This right did not come easy.It was a pianful,expensive right. Sometimes if we think out vote does not matter........the less of two evils........people stay home. Their voice is not heard. Their option not expressed.

    This year...........it is just to improtant not to vote,and stand up ,and be counted. To much is at stake.

    For the first time in a long time there is a canidate that will listen,take to heart our concerns,issues,and follow through with actions that are also thought out and measured.

    Obama/Biden '08

    November 4, 2008 at 3:25 pm |
  2. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    What's the deal with the Black Panthers intimidating people? Guys, Obama isn't about all of that garbage.

    November 4, 2008 at 12:10 pm |
  3. Matthew Poe

    One important fact will be decided today. Reapportionment of the U.S. Representatives and the U.S. Census. Some "red" states could lose electors due to loss in population due to Katrina. The U.S. Justice Department has to approve all congressional district lines and whoever is in the White House could help his party pick up seats in any future congressional election.

    November 4, 2008 at 11:27 am |
  4. Herbert Hadad

    Hadad's report is smart, refreshing and optimistic. It is a tonic in a political time often marked by deviousness and dishonesty. I'm very proud of him. I happen to be his father.

    November 4, 2008 at 11:03 am |
  5. Maria

    Happy Election day Chuck
    Welcome to the election club, what Joe the plumber and Bob the builder will bring tonight. It is really memorable election season. Have fun and take care.

    November 4, 2008 at 9:57 am |
  6. Andrew KArr

    Today's election is the biggest election due to one person. Barack Obama. Most elections i can remember have left voters with a lack of options. Voters end the election day by voting for the lesser of two evils.

    Today, I voted for a candidate who I want to win, not against a guy I don't.

    November 4, 2008 at 9:26 am |
  7. Kristen-University Park, PA

    I agree this election is about voting. I am excited because this was my second time voting ever but my first time voting in person. I was so worried about the long lines I got to my polling place at 6 am and the workers weren't even there yet. I hope people do get out and vote today, we are making history and there is a lot at stake. I feel a great since of pride knowing my voice will be heard in this election.

    November 4, 2008 at 9:20 am |