Profiles: Fifty shades of America

50 American voters from every state in the US - 25 for Obama and 25 for Romney.

American elections (photo credit: Reuters)
American elections
(photo credit: Reuters)
“It will not be easy, and it will be long.” This was what President Obama stated in his inaugural address in January 2009, predicting his first term would be difficult in the wake of the economic crash that he inherited. One voter interviewed here remembers this line. Many more lament the economy’s slow growth.

In this piece, where I profile 50 American voters from every state in the US, 25 for Obama and 25 for Romney, Romney voters’ overwhelmingly say that they want to replace Obama with a business savvy candidate that will exercise more fiscal restraint and create more jobs. They believe he can do this from his ability to balance the budget when he was the governor of Massachusetts without raising taxes, as well as his extensive private sector success.Some of the Obama voters express support for Obama’s economic policies, and often credit the 2008 economic crash at the end of Bush’s presidency for the difficulties still lingering in the economy. However, Obama voters’ largely say they support the President for his social agenda. Most voters cite social issues such as fair pay for women, LGBTQ rights, a women’s right to contraception and abortion, and healthcare as the main reasons they are voting for Obama. Perhaps this is because Obama’s first term was more successful on this front in comparison to the economy.On the other hand, Romney voters barely mention social issues, such as traditional marriage and pro-life policies, as reasons they are voting for Romney. Unlike other campaign seasons, the economy is the central issue for Republican voters. Additionally, Israel ranks high among Republican concerns.Granted, this pool of voters is undoubtedly biased considering everyone knew this article was going to be published on an Israeli news site. That being said, it is interesting to see that of the voters that mention Israel as one of their reasons to support either candidate, seven voters support Romney and three support Obama. Delving a bit deeper, of the 10 voters that mention Israel, five are Jewish, three of whom are the Obama supporters. Not surprisingly, this demonstrates American Jews’ continued division over policies regarding Israel, whereas most non-Jewish voters that value Israel (mostly religious Christians) support the Republican party.Each voter interviewed gives a unique, valuable perspective on the challenges facing the United States. I hope these voters give you a glimpse of what is at stake for Americans in the 2012 presidential election.Name: Dale HarwoodState: KansasAge: 44Occupation: Museum CoordinatorWho are you voting for? RomneyWhy? Because I believe that Mr. Obama has lied, and continues to lie to not only the American people, but also the rest of the world about many things.  He promised hope and change ….. I see no hope. Conditions are worse now than before. He CANNOT be trusted, nor any of his lackeys in Congress.Name: Carol RogersState: KentuckyAge: 56Occupation: Homemaker and VolunteerWho are you voting for? RomneyWhy? The economy is in terrible shape with unprecedented government spending, a $16 trillion national debt, high unemployment, lack of jobs, and increased dependency on the government through entitlement programs. Mitt Romney is a smart businessman with clear ideas for improving our economy, in contrast to Obama who has never done any work in the private sector. Romney is for small government and lower taxes; Obama is for big government and higher taxes on many Americans. I have two children and two grandchildren; I want America to be strong again so that they and other young people may have a future of opportunity.
Name: Audrey Melissa DiketState: LouisianaAge: 23Occupation: StudentWho are you voting for? RomneyWhy? Mitt Romney has the necessary qualifications and experience in creating jobs and running a business, specifically in the task of budgeting SUCCESSFULLY; he lowered taxes multiple times, and managed to get rid of his state’s debt, and create a “rainy day fund.” Obama has not been successful with his budget, lowering the deficit, fixing the failing economy, or working with Republicans. Mitt Romney has been successful in working with Democrats when he was governor of a majority Democratic state, Massachusetts. Lastly, there are many other good things he did for people throughout his life that show his compassion for others.Name: Jesse ConnollyState: MaineAge: 34Occupation: Works for a Member of CongressWho are you voting for? ObamaWhy? I am voting for President Obama this November because I believe there is a lot of work that still needs to be completed by the President and his team to turn our economy around. Furthermore I feel that President Obama is more concerned with the issues that face me and my family then his opponent.
Name: Ed LevineState: MarylandAge: 66Occupation: RetiredWho are you voting for? ObamaWhy? President Obama and the Democratic Party’s platform is best suited for me, my family, and the U.S. Their platform is committed to 1) improving education and health services that will lead to increased employment, educational opportunities, and quality of life; 2) implementing a plan to address global instability through decisive military action that is cautious yet effective; and 3) enhancing our planet’s environmental health.Mitt Romney and the Republican Party’s platform is committed to supporting major corporations by lowering their taxes and setting fewer regulations. This approach has proven to be ineffective, irresponsible, and has lead to economic disaster.Name: Bonnie MarguliesState: MassachusettsAge: 63Occupation: Interior decorator and former middle school teacherWho are you voting for? ObamaWhy? I believe he is undoubtedly the best candidate because of his record in his first four years. I believe he really cares about all the people. He has a proven record in foreign policy. He has made his way to the top because of hard work and this life experience will allow him to perform even more effectively in his 2nd term.
Name: Amit WeitzerState: MichiganAge: 26Occupation: Youth Environmental Education Program CoordinatorWho are you voting for? ObamaWhy? I believe in a women’s right to define her future and have ownership over her body, and all people have the right to marry whomever they like. Legislators should stop legislating my body and definitions of love and family and get back to improving our safety nets. I believe in investing in green energy technology, in economic justice, and in desperately needed educational investments. I believe in comprehensive pathways to citizenship for people who have immigrated to our country and that the wealthy have a role in providing resources for those in need. A vote for Romney is a vote against everything I believe in.Name: Jules GoldsteinState: MinnesotaAge: 65Occupation: Retired Systems AnalystWho are you voting for? ObamaWhy? What President Obama has been able to do in the face of unrelenting partisan obstruction is amazing. Equal pay for equal work, repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, affordable health care, easing the burden of student loans, rescue of the auto industry, and reform of the financial industry are but a few accomplishments. He continues to pursue a foreign policy that promotes a strong Israel and fights nuclear proliferation.All the while, Romney seems to be a walking shadow, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.Name: Nic LottState: MississippiAge: 32Occupation: Founder of Mississippi Forward, state affiliate of the National Taxpayers UnionWho are you voting for? RomneyWhy? This election is about the course of the U.S. and two very different paths. We can’t afford to continue President Obama’s record of high deficits and chronic unemployment. Governor Romney has a plan to create 12 million new jobs. He will provide real solutions for accessible and affordable healthcare where folks won’t lose their current coverage and health premiums won’t go up as they will under Obamacare by $2500 per family. A President Romney will stop the $716 billion dollar Obamacare cut to Medicare, strengthen our military, and prevent defense cuts as we keep America strong and get the middle class working again.
Name: Kailea BognerState: MissouriAge: 19Occupation: StudentWho are you voting for? RomneyWhy? I see this country going in the wrong direction. I believe that the policies that Romney will bring forth will enable our government to balance the budget and reduce excessive spending. Romney can improve the country not only in the short term, but for the long term. The Romney-Ryan ticket will ensure that our Social Security will be available when the Americans who are working now retire. Romney believes in a strong national defense and will protect the traditional principles that I believe in. He will not be ashamed of this country, but will make this country powerful once more.Name: Jessica SenaState: MontanaAge: 26Occupation: Campaign Staff for Rick Hill for Governor.Who are you voting for? RomneyWhy? Gov. Romney possesses the business savvy and leadership needed to collaborate effectively across the aisle, as well as around the world. Congressman Ryan has the knowledge and experience needed to parlay his work in Congress into meaningful reforms for our economy. The two have the proven to be leaders in and out of politics, and are just what America needs to restore prosperity and opportunity in this country through the policies of less government and greater freedom. They fulfill the ideals of the nostalgic “American Dream” we seem to have lost over the last four years.Name: Cyndi LammState: NebraskaAge: 54Occupation: Attorney for eight yearsWho are you voting for? RomneyWhy?  I am a wife, a mom, a grandma, and a small business owner.  I am voting for Romney because I have concerns for my family and my business. Here in Nebraska, we have elected officials who largely exercise fiscal restraint.  We have a balanced budget amendment and our unemployment rate is well below the national average.  I believe that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will provide the same on a national scale, and that with their leadership, I can be confident that my children and grandchildren will have opportunity and that they will not be burdened by my generation’s debt.Name: Dustin RavizéState: NevadaAge: 23Occupation: Computer EngineerWho are you voting for? ObamaWhy? I believe that social issues are at the forefront of what America is looking for. We now more than ever have been fighting hard for marriage equality, abortion rights, and a separation of church and state. I also believe Obama truly cares about the American people and has shown his care with his tax cuts to families and providing healthcare that has saved lives in need when no one would have offered anything. I believe this among many other solutions will bring the American people together, stimulate our social awareness and community, and build a better economy through new ideals.
Name: Natacha Sochat (left)State: New HampshireAge: 61Occupation: Physician (retired)  Artist/curator (ongoing)Who are you voting for? ObamaWhy? 1) Obama cares about everyone and has an economic plan that will benefit the entire U.S. population, not just the top 1%. 2) Obama was able to finally institute the beginning of health care reform, something that I never believed would be done in this country. As a retired physician, ‘Obamacare’ is a great accomplishment for our country. 3) Wall Street reforms were instituted along with other financial reforms including putting a stop to credit card companies’ financial abuses. 4) President Obama has been one of the best presidents to represent us to the world and have relationships with other nations.Name: Sarah LukeState: New JerseyAge: 30Occupation: AttorneyWho are you voting for? ObamaWhy?  I am voting for Barack Obama for several reasons. First, I think that the measures he took in the beginning of his presidency kept the country from experiencing a much steeper economic decline. Second, I support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare). Third, President Obama supports equal rights for same sex couples. And finally, President Obama will protect organizations like Planned Parenthood which provide women with access to quality reproductive care.Name: Barbara GlazerState: New MexicoAge: 76Occupation: Retired psychotherapist and college professorWho are you voting for? ObamaWhy? He feels a moral obligation toward equality, understands why women want equal pay for equal work, and knows that access to contraception and abortion is a woman’s choice. This election frightens me more than any other. I marched with my daughters in the civil rights movement.  Those daughters are now in their 50s, and have their own children and grandchildren. I don’t want to see my great grand-children, three of whom are girls, lose the equality we worked so hard to attain.  I will vote for President Obama and stay up all night until the results are in to see if I celebrate or sit shiva.
Name: Gabriella Rodriguez (middle)State: New YorkAge: 29Occupation: Social WorkerWho are you voting for? ObamaWhy? I think the country is moving in the right direction under his administration. He has shown a lot of strength, courage and determination. He has kept his original campaign promises as far as health care and bringing back the troops from Iraq. There was a lot hat he had to clean up after Bush left office and I think that with a second term he has a good chance at getting this country back on track economically. Name: Steve NicolState: North CarolinaAge: 52Occupation: Self Employed in TransportationWho are you voting for? RomneyWhy? I’ve witnessed a decline in my nation the likes of which I’ve never seen. I believe in limited government intrusion into both private and public sector arenas. As a business owner, I’m solidly against the Democratic philosophy of “regulation.” I truly believe President Obama has weakened our position both here and abroad. I don’t support many of his allegiances, I do not support his fiscal spending policies, and to be honest, as a judge of character, I do not believe he speaks for ALL Americans as a president should. Last, I support your nation’s continued efforts at self-direction and solidarity.
Name: Ken CallahanState: North DakotaAge: 50Occupation: Energy Services ManagerWho are you voting for? RomneyWhy? The economy is in horrible shape except for North Dakota. I believe a successful businessman knows how to balance a budget and will promote small businesses that will CREATE JOBS!!! We have a chance to become oil independent in North America and with Mitt Romney in office we have a better chance. Look at our president’s refusal to sign the Keystone pipeline project; he’s definitely not oil friendly. He can say we produced more oil in his administration than any other administration, but it’s not because of him; it’s because of the Bakken in North Dakota. It’s time for change.Name: Jamie Zimmer (right)State: OhioAge: 30Occupation: Journalist/EditorWho are you voting for? ObamaWhy? Obama upholds stances on a number of social issues close to my heart. He also implemented economy saving measures that stopped the U.S. from defaulting on its loans by raising the debt ceiling in order to prevent a worldwide depression. Romney seems to not only want to undo all of Obama’s work, I also believe he lacks any understanding of foreign policy and the fragility of international relations. I also believe, as a resident of Israel, that Romney would plunge Israel and the U.S. into a state of war with Iran that could take decades and millions of lives to resolve. Name: Gabriel CrawfordState: OklahomaAge: 22Occupation: Student/ Associate at Squires Resource Development (Fundraising firm)Who are you voting for? RomneyWhy? I am voting for Mitt Romney because of his fiscal conservatism and his desire to tackle the country’s current debt crisis. As a young man, the growing debt will be strapped on my back and my paycheck will have to reimburse these outlandish expenditures. Also, the United State’s current entitlement reforms are going bankrupt in this process, not guaranteeing me any benefits once I get older. I believe we must change the engine of the current entitlement structure (Social Security, Medicare, etc.) to maintain it for the current generation and preserve it for my generation. A Romney presidency will do just this.
Name: Cole MerkelState: OregonAge: 24Occupation: Vendor Coordinator at Street Roots newspaper; Social servicesWho are you voting for? ObamaWhy? I work with people experiencing homelessness and poverty. I see first hand the trickle-down economic theories of tax cuts for the rich that will eventually benefit everyone through job creation only work to keep individuals in the upper class richer while subjugating the middle and lower class. This is what Mr. Romney is proposing. On the other hand, Obama’s economic policies create a more equitable future. Also, Mr. Obama’s support of same-sex marriage places him on the right side of history, which I am confident will be a harbinger of more freedoms for LGBTQ-identifying individuals, myself included, if he’s reelected.Name: Rachel RobbinsState: PennsylvaniaAge: 29Occupation: Arts/Nonprofit AdministratorWho are you voting for? ObamaWhy? I believe in rights to contraception, healthcare, and abortion. Gay marriage needs to be legal. On the whole, it does not benefit the U.S. or the world for our leaders to be only interested in their own profit or in defending their traditions. I want an ethical leader who I trust and that is Barack Obama.Name: Robert DavisState: Rhode IslandAge: 46Occupation: Nuclear medicine technologistWho are you voting for? ObamaWhy? I believe that the President has been, and will continue to be, acting in the best interest of all Americans. His plan for repairing our economic state makes sense and frankly, is the only one presented thus far by either party. His ideals match my own, equality for all regardless of sex, race, creed, and sexual preference. At this crucial moment, it isn’t practical to start with new, proven failed, policies.
Name: Lorilee MaurerState: South CarolinaAge: 56Occupation: Self-EmployedWho are you voting for? Mitt RomneyWhy? My husband and I are small business owners. I feel that Romney better understands the economy and how to grow businesses. I think his approach to lowering the debt won’t be easy and may be a little uncomfortable, which makes sense. When you run up a debt that needs to be paid off, some things need to be cut, whether it’s my debt or our national debt! I appreciate his pro-family policies of traditional marriage and his anti-abortion stance. He’s not afraid to acknowledge God or his faith. I trust him and am proud to support him.Name: Yvonne RogallaState: South DakotaAge: 67Occupation: RetiredWho are you voting for? RomneyWhy? I believe that he can turn the economic situation around by lowering taxes on the small businesses and on the large companies so the large ones will come back to America, putting our people back to work. He also says he will open up resources we have here in the U.S. like oil, natural gas, and coal, again putting our people back to work and not depending on the Mideast and China. The greatest reason I am voting for him is because he says he is for Israel. Father God says that if we bless Israel, we will be blessed. America needs to be blessed.Name: Daniel Garner (middle)State: TennesseeAge: 55Occupation: PhysicianWho are you voting for? RomneyWhy? This is because I am concerned over the excessively liberal policies and decisions of the Obama administration, the poor record on Israel, and issues of the Federal deficit. Unlike many decisions, I am neutral on Obama’s record with the so-called “Obama-care,” health reform.
Name: Debbie FerrisState: TexasAge: 49Occupation: Self Employed Technical/Grant WriterWho are you voting for? RomneyWhy? I support Mr. Romney because he has turned around several failing businesses and made them viable again. He was one of the most successful venture capitalists in the 80s and 90s and he was very successful at Bain Capital. Mr. Romney understands how private sector businesses work. As Governor of Massachusetts, he closed the deficit gap without raising taxes. I just think that Mr. Romney understands finances and the business world much more than President Obama and he will start the long process of helping the U.S. recover from the current recession.Name: Jordan HessState: UtahAge: 25Occupation: Office ManagerWho are you voting for? RomneyWhy? Mitt Romney encourages me to work hard and create my own success, rather than rely on the government to provide my happiness. My rights are given by God, not the government. America is a country where anyone can be successful if they work hard. Mitt Romney is also a family man with a beautiful wife and 5 great sons. I believe in marriage between a man and a woman, and Mitt Romney believes the same. I believe in a strong American military that stands with Israel. Mitt Romney believes the same. I believe in a free market economy; Mitt Romney believes the same.Name: Rachael CohenState: VermontAge: 49Occupation: Freelance editor, instructor at the University of Michigan New England Literature Program, adjunct professor of humanities at Colby-Sawyer College, laborer at Sunrise Farm, scholar for the Vermont Humanities Council Reading and Discussion Program, and dog-sitter.Who are you voting for? ObamaWhy? Although his first term was disappointing in some ways, especially compared to the enormously exciting promises he made during his first campaign, he came into office with nearly impossible financial and political challenges to overcome. I don’t agree with every decision he has made, but I believe that his economic policies are basically sound — and definitely sounder than Romney’s. We need the reforms of health care, education, and energy policy that he has been working toward.
Name: Jody KempState: VirginiaAge: 57Occupation: Church/Social services, serving women and children in situations of domestic violenceWho are you voting for? RomneyWhy? I vote Republican because I am in favor of conservative solutions to America’s problems. Romney favors a strong defense budget and Obama does not. Romney opposes “Obamacare!” Mitt Romney supports an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to protect traditional marriage.Governor Romney will support our ally Israel. We have a long standing relationship and clear biblical mandate to stand with the state of Israel in every way. Finally, the United States needs Mitt Romney who understands economics, is a successful businessman/entrepreneur himself and who will work to create much needed jobs to get our economy moving again.Name: Crystal SweetState: WashingtonAge: 32Occupation: Court ClerkWho are you voting for? ObamaWhy? I am voting for President Obama because he shares my values. I am particularly pleased with his stances on gay marriage and gays in the military. I also believe he will continue to protect a woman’s right to choose and he will continue to help fund much needed social services.Name: Steven StarcherState: West VirginiaAge: 36Occupation: PharmacistWho are you voting for? RomneyWhy? Barack Obama has steered this country to the brink of collapse with his policies and government takeover of the banking, auto, housing industries, and over regulation by the EPA on the oil, natural gas, and coal industry. These policies have caused 23 million Americans to be out of work and have led to six trillion dollars of additional deficit in just four years. This path for America is unsustainable. Finally, the foreign policy of this administration has been one of appeasement. In the eyes of your enemies, is it better to be feared or respected. I feel the current administration wants to be respected.
Name: Terri KrauseState: WisconsinAge: 50Occupation: Administrative AssistantWho are you voting for? ObamaWhy? I believe that President Obama understands the difficulties and hardships that many Americans are experiencing. Mr. Romney has written off 47% of our population. I admire President Obama for standing up to corporate America by signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Paul Ryan voted against it. I support Obamacare. I supported the auto industry bailout – Mr. Romney said to let Detroit go bankrupt. That bailout saved thousands of jobs. Most importantly, I want President Obama to have the opportunity to appoint the next Supreme Court Justice and hopefully overturn Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission.Name: Clay LongState: WyomingAge: 28Occupation: In the oil industryWho are you voting for? RomneyWhy? Mitt consistently proves his ability to manage large, overloading crisis with poise and pride. He understands the American dream isn’t born or protected in the marble clad domes of DC but the brick and mortar of America’s homes.This article was first published by Walla! in Hebrew. Follow Laura's blog.