Speaking to voters in Rego Park, Corona and Middle Village on Election Day, it became clear that many Queens residents hold incumbent President Obama in high esteem, although perhaps not by as much as he may like.
Polled voters in Rego Park and Corona expressed overwhelming support for Obama.
“He’s a Democrat, he’s pro-choice, he’s a liberal,” said Katherine Zlotnikova, who voted for him. “Everything the Democrats support, I like.”
Akter Hossain, who also voted for Obama, had some harsh words for Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. “I am one of the 47 percent that apparently never pays taxes,” he joked, referring to Romney’s controversial comments. “I think you can guess who I voted for.”
Most voters who had voted for Obama also said that they were doing so for the second time, but Amy Branch claims to have supported him even before his first presidential bid in 2008. “I’m from Chicago,” she said. “My mom supported Obama before he ran for president. Back when Bill Clinton was running, she said that Obama should run for president.”
Among the Obama supporters interviewed, a common theme seemed to be the idea that Obama was doing a good job despite unfavorable circumstances and that he deserved a second chance on the economy.
“He inherited a big mess,” said Sarah Edgar. “He’s doing the best he can.”
Sajid Shamji, who also voted for Obama, said, “What he did in four years was not bad. I think he deserves a second chance.”
John Geosits emphasized the preceding president’s effect on Obama’s tenure: “He’s still straightening out the mess left by the last Republican. People seem to forget that we had a surplus budget before that.”
However, Romney and the Republican Party were not without a glimmer of hope. Myrna Colon in Middle Village voted for him: “Obama has a lot of luggage that I don’t think he has dealt with. When I saw that the race was a close one, I definitely had to come out and vote.”
Although the presidential race was dominated by economic and foreign policy concerns, these were not the only issues motivating Queens voters. Steve Haas of Rego Park voted for Obama in part because of his stances on social issues. “I’m not Christian. I don’t believe in taking the Pope and putting him on Main Street,” he said. Iris A., also of Rego Park, admired Obama’s response to Hurricane Sandy. “Romney ran a great state, he had a great education system, but I think that Obama deserves a second chance.”
During the highly-contested and thoroughly covered presidential race, some voters may have forgotten that there are more than two parties and presidential candidates. Dr. Frans Verhangen, who formed the Queens Green Party, voted for Obama under the Working Families party. “It’s a sort of a protest vote,” he said. “I support him, but I think that there are a few areas he missed out on, particularly climate change. He could have made some hay out of Romney’s stance on climate change. It’s an important issue.” Jeff in Middle Village voted for the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson. “I’m not happy with Obama, and I don’t believe in the integrity of Romney,” Jeff commented. “My opinion changed four or five weeks ago when I saw Johnson. He’s got good ideas for tax laws and changing the IRS. The debates between the two big candidates produced nothing but bickering, mud-slinging and un-truths.”
The voting process was not without its difficulties. “People here are not getting their voting cards,” said one disgruntled would-be voter at Middle Village who declined to be named. “This is the first that I’ve heard that my voting location was changed.” Another would-be voter made a similar complaint about 10 minutes later.
Not all, but most voting issues in New York seem to have stemmed from organizational mistakes like unannounced voting site changes. Nationwide, however, there were more serious complaints, including accusations of potential interference in the voting process in Ohio. One video allegedly shows a voting booth that registered a vote for Obama as a vote for Romney.
Despite these issues, however, a perfunctory analysis showed that Queens residents were engaged in the political process and that voting mostly went off without a hitch.