Voters apprehensive about next year's presidential election

Things have been better, no doubt about that.

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Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Bertron Beard, 64, of Evans, agrees Cain offers a positive approach for the nation’s economic woes and path towards socialism.

We’re still at war. The economy sputters like a poorly tuned engine. National unemployment hovers around 9 percent – over 10 percent in Georgia.

With the election of a new president one year away, Georgians are aware of the gloomy numbers. Many are asking who can make it better; which candidate can turn this economy around and put people to work again?

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, along with the Augusta Chronicle and the Georgia Newspaper Partnership recently conducted dozens of interviews with ordinary Georgians from the mountains to the shore. Reporters talked with the old, the young, the retired and the recently hired, asking: What are the key issues facing the nation? How has President Obama done? What should the Republican candidates be talking about?

Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, GOP presidential contenders with strong Georgia roots, have supporters across the state. Many respondents said they still support Obama, though perhaps not as enthusiastically as they did in 2008.

And everywhere – at a hardware store in Atlanta, at a bike store in Brunswick, on the sidewalks of Augusta – people said they worry about the loss of jobs, about the flat economy. Some wondered if Americans’ renowned optimism has finally run dry.

Having moderate political views, Will Melton, a medical student orginally from Columbus but now living in Augusta, said discussions concerning education, health care, student loans and the nation’s debt crisis will help him decide whether to vote Republican or Democrat. Melton, 24, favors Obama over the Republican candidates but that could change depending on what he hears from candidates during the election year. And he’s fed up with both political parties pandering to their extreme fringes.

“There’s no middle ground,” he said. “We need more gray.”

Many believe the country is heading in the wrong direction and much of the enthusiasm that followed Obama into office has waned.

Patent attorney Duane Minley paused as he ate lunch outside a Midtown Atlanta office building.

“The big problem?” he said. “It’s a loss of hope.”

Hope. It became a mantra for Obama in his 2008 bid for the White House. Now, it’s a word some people utter with sarcasm.

The nation doesn’t appear much better off than it was when Obama was elected, said Atlanta resident Grace Kugler, a 24-year-old bartender who considers herself a liberal.

“I don’t see that much change,” she said.

Alison Tammany, 23, an Augusta medical student orginially from California, voted for Obama last election but will not do so in 2012. Her political views waver, but she currently falls in the middle of the spectrum. She’s waiting for a candidate to talk about environmental issues and corporate greed.

“There should be more regulation of the big companies,” Tammany said.

Obama needs four more years, said Shirley Jones of Macon. She’s 56, a retired medical worker, and believes the nation’s “messed-up economy” took root when Bill Clinton was in office and grew during George W. Bush’s tenure.

“It’s going to take time to figure it out,” she said. “If we can get him back into office, he’ll do his job.”

Obama’s had all the chances he needs to set things right, said Mike Carroll of Gainesville. Politically, said Carroll, 58, “I’m in the middle right now.”

A former Democrat, he is looking at the field of GOP contenders, hoping someone will inspire his confidence. “I’m waiting to see what everybody’s going to do,” he said.

Cain may be the best candidate, said Columbus resident Kathleen Bovaird, 55. A lifelong Democrat, Bovaird said she might be willing to switch allegiances to vote for Cain, a nationally syndicated radio host and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza.

“I don’t think it’s a bad idea for a businessman to run the country,” she said.

Bertron Beard, 64, of Evans, agrees Cain offers a positive approach for the nation’s economic woes and path towards socialism. Beard, a retired information technology system analyst, supports tax reform, especially the fair tax proposal to eliminate personal and corporate income tax.

“He’s not a politician,” Beard said. “Politicians have thoroughly screwed up this country."

What they think

-- Kevin Hickey, 30, of Augusta, said the nation’s unemployment problem will matter to most voters but he thinks many people exaggerate the issue. Candidates aren’t offering a concrete economic recovery plan that constituents are asking for.

“We’re not in as bad a spot as one would think. We’ve hit rock bottom and we’re slowly going to climb out of this,” Hickey, a marketing executive, said.

-- Ophelia Anu, a self-described political activist that aligns with Democratic values, knows she will vote for Obama.

“He’s level headed. He’s persistent,” said Anu, who’s currently unemployed. “He will get done what needs to be done,” Anu said.

-- Alan Andrews, 65, of North Augusta, S.C., said the nation’s moving towards a socialist government under current leadership. Republican candidate Herman Cain has Andrews’ support now, but the retired administrator from USC Aiken will continue to pay attention to election debates.

“I like his simple approach. He has good solutions to our problems and I agree with his direction for the country,” Andrews said.

-- Jeff Ahlstedt, 22, an Augusta medical student originally from Lawrenceville, couldn’t decide on a candidate last presidential election so he didn’t cast a ballot. As a libertarian, he would vote for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul if he were to secure the GOP nomination.

“He stands by his convictions,” Ahlstedt said. “I don’t like the hypocrisy, saying one thing then another, of a lot of the candidates.”

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Asitisinaug
4
Points
Asitisinaug 11/05/11 - 08:41 pm
0
0
Sorry, but we don't need more

Sorry, but we don't need more "gray", we need true leadership. We need someone who will work with others, discuss various points of view and make the tough decisions that need to be made.

Lets face it, as a country we are broke and we MUST greatly reduce spending. We need to hold people acountable for their own actions. We need to help those that can not help theirselves but stop enabling those who are capable. This administration seems to want the citizens to be dependent on the government when in reality, no matter who is in charge, the government can not do a great job of taking care of the citizens. We need to stop the class and racial war fare which has greatly increased under this adminisitration.

Neither party is doing a great job and many seem to be "in it for theirselves" instead of serving the country.

We need:

Personal Responsibility and acountibility
Reduction of government control and growth
Major welfare reform with maximum of 6 months is pay outs
Drug Testing for all those wanting government hand outs of any nature
Workfare vs. Welfare, and the same for those in govt. housing
Reduction in spending within ALL areas of the government
END of government spending on all non-essential needs
Honets leaders who say what they mean and mean what they say
And end to all infighting from both sides - argue points not politics
Complete Tax Reform - 50% can not carry the other 50%
Tax reform on businesses not paying taxes due to loopholes
A stronger judicial system that removes violent criminals from society
etc...

scoopdedoop64
2520
Points
scoopdedoop64 11/05/11 - 10:40 pm
0
0
Unless something drastically

Unless something drastically changes my mind I will vote for Cain.

Riverman1
94273
Points
Riverman1 11/06/11 - 06:14 am
0
0
I like it that the black guy

I like it that the black guy is leaning towards Cain. Call me racist, I guess.

carcraft
28596
Points
carcraft 11/06/11 - 06:26 am
0
0
I like Anu-She is unemployed

I like Anu-She is unemployed and thinks Obama is great! LOL Longest highest unemployment since the great depression and all Obama and the Democrats can do is offer companies more regulations and red tape to help the process along! Go Anu Go girl...

bjphysics
36
Points
bjphysics 11/06/11 - 06:34 am
0
0
Please fix that caption under

Please fix that caption under Berton Beard’s picture:

“Bertron Beard, 64, of Evans, agrees Cain offers a positive approach for the nation’s economic woes and path towards socialism.”

We know what they mean but it reads ambiguously.

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 11/06/11 - 11:50 am
0
0
Apprehension? Not me. Nor

Apprehension? Not me. Nor anyone else I know. We are EAGERLY awaiting election day. Especially on the national level. Can't wait to vote "Our Dear Ruler" out of office and send him back to the cesspool of politics known as Chicago .

kissofdeath
474
Points
kissofdeath 11/06/11 - 12:41 pm
0
0
For the third time in a

For the third time in a month, Senate Republicans killed legislation which would have put hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work. The legislation would have create jobs immediately by investing $ 50 billion to repair and rebuild the nation's roads, rails and airports, establish a national infrastructure bank to fund a broad range of projects and asked millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. It also would have created an infrastructure bank to future projects . The legislation is overwhelmingly supported by the general public. But yet, proving once again they are out of touch with voters. Americans once again saw Republican Senators curry favor with millionaires and billionaires who're being asked in this legislation to pay a little more so our economy can turn around. Futhermore, the nation's jobs crisis will lingering around through 2012, if Republicans in Congress keep blocking Pres Obama's jobs plan.

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 11/06/11 - 01:07 pm
0
0
How could $50 billion in tax

How could $50 billion in tax money create hundreds of thousands of jobs if the multi-trillion in TARP money did not do so? As far as the legislation being "overwhelmingly supported by the general public," you will have to show some non-partisan data before I believe that. It was the general public who turned the House back to majority Republican in 2010. The Senate is next in 2012.

carcraft
28596
Points
carcraft 11/06/11 - 04:59 pm
0
0
Kiss of death- well it looks

Kiss of death- well it looks like it isn't just Republicans who blocked Obama's job bill in the Senate..BWAHAHAHAHAHA a few Democrates also voted against it.. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/10/20/senate-votes-down-trimmed-ver...

allhans
24974
Points
allhans 11/06/11 - 02:53 pm
0
0
kissof death has joined our

kissof death has joined our ranks for a day or so to spread the liberal agenda.
My friend (yeah, I know) offered to help the Democrat Party however he was needed and they told him they wanted everyone to get on-line and not to stop. Keep it going until the election.

bjphysics
36
Points
bjphysics 11/06/11 - 05:35 pm
0
0
kissofdeath, it’s not a jobs

kissofdeath, it’s not a jobs bill, it’s an election year gimmick. Cain has 999, Obama has “Pass This Bill”, both are gimmicks; don’t be naive. The democrats will (they already have) engage in legislative maneuvers to keep the bill alive but not passed, so Obama can say:

“Pass This Bill”

On the campaign trail.

Every political party needs gullible true believers; thank you for your contribution.

bclicious
770
Points
bclicious 11/06/11 - 06:00 pm
0
0
There really is no viable

There really is no viable solution in the upcoming election. Even if there was a candidate with truly innovative ideas such as Cain, that candidate would still have to get congress to go along with it. I believe that because of our checks and balances system, we are in a stalemate/checkmate situtation.

allhans
24974
Points
allhans 11/06/11 - 06:29 pm
0
0
I think kissofdeath has left

I think kissofdeath has left the building.

ADAMS
20
Points
ADAMS 11/06/11 - 09:03 pm
0
0
Georgia is ranked 49th in the

Georgia is ranked 49th in the nation for job creation, that's unacceptable. Gov. Nathan Deal and his administration has played a big role in Georgia's jobs crisis. He made a promised to "create jobs" but the jobs aren't there. Georgia has lost 8,000 jobs since Gov. Nathan Deal took office. There're seven states with skyrocketed unemployment over 10 % and Georgia is one of them. All these states are controlled by Republican governors and state legislators. Until these states start creating jobs the federal unemployment rate will remain 9% through 2012 election.

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