The presidential election of 2008 is singular in many ways: it will be the first race in 80 years without an incumbent President or Vice President on primary ballots. And it could conceivably deliver our first female President. Or African American. Or Latino. Or Mormon. The campaign also marks the debut of the TIME Election Index, an original way of tracking the rise and fall of presidential candidates. The Index--hatched in a conversation between our pollster, Mark Schulman, and our national political correspondent, Karen Tumulty, who wrote the introduction to this week's cover--plots the amount of support that candidates attract against how much voters say they know about them. Candidates, of course, hope that the more voters see of them, the more they like them. But for some, the opposite can be the case. The TIME Index tracks familiarity against likability, the gold standard for successful candidates. As the campaign progresses, the TIME Index will show who's soaring, who's sinking and who's standing still--and soon you will be able to follow the TIME Index online.
In April 2006, we ran a three-page photo essay by Yuri Kozyrev documenting the state of refugees in Kashmir after the catastrophic earthquake that took the lives of 75,000 people and displaced 3 million more. One of Yuri's pictures was of a slight girl in a hooded orange parka who had lost her leg in the quake. Two days after the magazine appeared, TIME's news-desk supervisor, Eileen Harkin, got a call from a member of the Shriners organization in Los Angeles. It wanted to help the girl. With clues from Yuri's notebooks and the assistance of his contacts in several relief organizations, we located the girl, Insha Afsar, 7, in a camp in Kamsar, just north of Muzaffarabad, Pakistan. TIME news director Howard Chua-Eoan personally paid for her to travel to the U.S. with her father for treatment. The Shriners arranged for free medical care for her, while the Heal the Children Foundation found a family in Connecticut to put up Insha and her father. She has since been fitted with a special prosthesis, which will have to be adjusted as she grows. Insha and her father came to TIME a few days ago. Before this trip, she and her father had never been as far afield as Islamabad, much less the U.S. She had picked up a few words of English, had learned how to use an iPod and was off to see The Lion King. With a shy smile, she said her favorite thing about her journey so far was "New York."