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Christopher Morris

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On Tuesday, Mitt Romney will conclude a nearly six-year campaign journey for the White House — and his supporters, as Christopher Morris’ latest photo essay reveals, could not be more earnest or more ready. The former Massachusetts Governor launched his first presidential bid in February 2007, and his second in June, 2011 — now the polls are tight and battleground states like Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Florida hang in the balance. Even though Hurricane Sandy disrupted the campaign flow in its final days, Republicans continue to hope that Romney’s earlier momentum and economic vision will win him the 270 electoral votes needed to take the oath of office in January.

Photojournalist Christopher Morris spent the last week of the campaign photographing Romney on the trail for TIME. He first photographed the Republican nominee back in the New Hampshire primary and has witnessed his journey to the upcoming finale. Last week he crisscrossed the country with the campaign, from Canton and Kettering, Ohio, to Tampa and Land O’Lakes, Fla.

Morris trains his lens on the voters rallying with great expectations to Romney’s side. Their anticipation and determination can almost be physically felt. Many politicos have summed this election up as two men and two parties with very different visions for America’s future, and Morris’ images capture just how deep this divide plunges. “I was a bit taken back by the strong division in the country, with a palpable disdain and hatred for President Obama by the crowds at the Romney events,” says Morris, who covered the George W. Bush’s two terms in the White House. “Having covered Gore, Kerry, Bush, and McCain, I’ve never quite seen it like this.”

Morris produced My America, a look at Republican nationalism in the country during George W. Bush’s terms. Later this month, Steidl will release Morris’ new book Americans, which further examines a nation in divide.

Christopher Morris is a contract photographer for TIME and is represented by VII

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Mitt Romney made history Tuesday night as the first Republican to win both the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary since 1976. Ron Paul came in second and Jon Huntsman finished third, while Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry trailed in their wake. Photojournalist Christopher Morris’ latest collection for TIME explores the journey behind this historic primary and the strange mix of enthusiasm, fear and anticipation that accompanied it.

In 2006, the Morris released his first monograph, My America, which began on assignment for TIME during the George W. Bush administration. Now he journeys into Republican America again for TIME in this collection.

Morris trains his lens on those to whom the political grasp for power is most dear—not solely the candidates, but perhaps more poignantly, the voters. Complex and diverse faces drew Morris’ attention in New Hampshire. “A true visual palette awaits any photographer who ventures up here to experience the very American process called a primary,” says Morris. “Not only was I captivated by the looks of the New Hampshire voters, but equally interesting were the campaign staff, the journalists and the odd-man-out characters on the campaign trail.”

Morris’ ability to capture the tension that connects the inner human spirit with outward communal realities is unparalleled. He describes his anthropological style as “straight and modern.” To that, we would add distinct and cinematic.

His insight into America’s young faces—the children whose future many of the candidates claim they are running to save—conveys a fresh look into the candidates’ audiences. His images here of blue sequined boots and twisted American flags provoke deeper wonderment at both the American social realities and political processes. Then there is his soon-to-be priceless snapshot of Ron Paul—in all his White House runs, we’ve never seen Paul look quite like this. Enjoy a moment to soak in these pictures before the race sprints onward to the Palmetto State.

Christopher Morris is a contract photographer for TIME and represented by VII. See more of his work here.

Elizabeth Dias is a reporter in TIME’s Washington bureau. Find her on Twitter @elizabethjdias.

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