As I mentioned last week, TONE was off to visit family in Portland (OR, not ME) last weekend. I am happy to report that there are more Obama signs, bumperstickers and buttons in Portland than even in Boston. We did make a trip to Mt. Angel, a Benedictine abbey about 40 miles south of Portland, and in the small town at the base of the mount McCain/Palin signs were thick as .... But it's clear that Oregon and Washington are not swing states.
We met a couple of women--one perhaps in her 40's, the other probably her mother, from Northern Virginia who described themselves as Obamacans--former Republicans backing Obama and not sure where they go from here. In the absence of some increasingly-improbable event that turns this race upside down, Obama looks likely to re-draw the political map the way FDR did in 1933 and Regan in 1980--that we'll be hearing about Obama Republicans, or some such term, for the next decade or so.
By the way, Portland--which is a very nice city on its own--has a priceless asset in its proximity to the Columbia River Gorge, which runs east from near the city past Bonneville Dam and Mt. Hood. It is a magnificent area, easily accessible from the city. If you find yourself in Portland, take a day and drive up the gorge. If the weather is good, go to Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood (it is actually on the treeline) and wander back on some of the side roads.
Speaking of driving, it may not be much comfort to GM, but I was impressed by the Chevy Cobalt that we rented. Even with an automatic, it gave decent response to the throttle (I didn't push it), the handling seemed tight and responsive and it rode well. In the few days we had the car--mostly in the care of the hotel's valet parking--I noticed no defects in the build. If I were looking for a new car (I'm not) and willing to look beyond hybrids, I might check out a Cobalt (with manual transmission, of course). I'm not saying I'd buy one, but for me even to consider a Big-3 product means that either American manufacturers have finally changed or I have.