Barack Obama and Democratic candidates at all levels are hoping this election will translate into big gains among independent voters. But that does not mean that all those independents are embracing Obama or even the chance to make history. Some have other reasons for voting for the first black candidate for president.
Crystal Brewster, a receptionist at a hospital and an amateur fiddler, is one such voter. NPR spoke with her during a bluegrass, gospel and country music jam session in the mountains of West Virginia.
Brewster says she plans to vote for Obama, but you would not know that if you listen to her talk about the Democrat.
"How much does he understand about foreign policy and the economy? How much does he really understand?" Brewster asks.
But, she says, she doesn't trust McCain on the issue most important to her: health care.
"That's the thing that clinched it for me," she says.
But deciding which candidate to support was not automatic for her. Brewster says Obama's plan to offer people the kind of insurance that members of Congress have sounds like a pipe dream.
"If you're flipping hamburgers, you're not going to have the money to afford that, so you're still out," she says. "There will still be millions of people without health care."
But she gives Obama credit for making an effort.
Brewster represents the quieter side of the Obama coalition. She's not gung-ho to see Obama in person, and she could have imagined voting for McCain. But now, she's one reason Obama has been polling well in swing states, from West Virginia to Ohio.