(CNN NEWS) — In the heart of Texas, 526 americans gathered, upset about the partisan divide. This is an experiment. A scientific sample. Democrat, Republican, and Independent, representing 47 states.
Audio: “you are going to listen to other people whom you never ordinarily would encounter.”
Reflecting who votes on election day.
It’s a four day, in-person poll, called ‘America in one room.’
Before arriving, this group took one poll on the major issues in the 2020 election.
Here, they listen to candidates, to experts.
Audio: “This is really your time to have your voice heard.”
And break into randomly selected small groups to talk.
Kyung Lah, CNN national correspondent: “when’s the last time you talked to a 70 year old white republican?”
Chanel McNair, Long Beach, CA, Democrat: “I don’t think I’ve ever talked to a 70-year-old white republican until now.”
Larry Van Landuyt, Los Molinos, CA, Republican: “we’re being stormed at the southern border and that’s a problem and it needs to be dealt with.
Gary Deuvall, Walls, MS, Republican: “the illegal immigrants that we have today, you can see all the time, waving their country’s flags, burning the American flag.”
McNair: “sure on tv you see the ones that do all this crazy stuff, but most of them work.”
Like the country, this group is deeply divided about immigration.
Trevon Jones, Windsor, NC, Democrat, who leans independent: “I feel like you should have a wall, a border wall. We have to protect our borders.”
Will Clouse, Brunswick, OH, Independent: “then along comes ICE (snaps fingers) Deports em! How can we continue to do that? In america!”
Deuvall: “we don’t want to learn your language, we don’t want to follow your customs, we follow our own customs – and to me it looks like they don’t want to become Americans.”
Nancy Reuscher, Petaluma, CA, Democrat: “you know Gary, your family were illegal immigrants. The American indians, this was their country. We didn’t learn their customs. We said you take ours and you take it now. So we’re all children of illegal immigrants. I don’t know how we can be so choosy about the new ones.”
Lah: “that’s got to be a little heated in there.”
McNair: “it definitely did, but we’ve all respected one another and each other’s opinions, and I never thought I would be able to relate to someone that was a Republican. And I have, more than once.”
Lah: “more than once?”
McNair: “yeah! Ha.”
Reuscher: “it’s been interesting to talk to Trump supporters because I don’t meet many.”
Deuvall: “seeing all of these people from all these other walks of life, exactly how my views have changed on it? I’m not so hardcore.”
Lah: “what is your advice about political discourse in this country?”
Deuvall: “you need to listen, not yell, not scream. You need to talk.”
At the end, a closing poll to see if there’s been any movement on the issues, but already visible.
“it’s opened my mind to see that I need to listen to other people’s views.”
Is the recognition that there is unexpected power.
“I really enjoyed you being here.”
In bridging the divide.
Deuvall: “I have enjoyed this beyond measure.”