Local voters helped to determine the president of the United States by casting ballots on Election Day.
Gilbert O’Hare woke Tuesday with as much conviction as he could ever recall having summoned. Venturing early that afternoon to the South Philadelphia Branch, 1700 S. Broad St., he needed to wait only a few seconds before he could draw a voting machine’s blue curtains and inspect the collection of names gunning for various offices, including the nation’s president. He required even less time to make his selections, hoping enough national deciders will share his reasoning.
“We must have Mitt Romney in the White House,” the resident of the 1800 block of South 16th Street said of the former governor of Massachusetts and the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. “I cannot bear another four years of ineptitude and misguided thinking.”
In the 57th quadrennial presidential election, Romney ended up falling to incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama for the right to guide the country as its top elected figure. Over what may be the most polarizing campaign cycle, Pennsylvania morphed from a presumed Obama backer into a battleground state that necessitated late visits from both parties, with former President Bill Clinton visiting four spots Monday for Obama and Romney promoting his policies Sunday in Yardley and Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
With 99 percent of the state’s polling locations reporting as of press time, Obama had claimed 52 percent of Pennsylvania’s tally, including 85 percent of Philadelphia’s votes. Though the city’s number of registered Democrats dwarfs the Republican tally, O’Hare reminded himself of each vote’s importance in trying to secure the Keystone State’s 20 electoral votes for his choice.
“It’s all about 270,” he said of the required electoral votes from the 50 states’ 538 combined notches, of which Obama had scored 303 as of press time, needed to occupy the Oval Office. “Romney is a business man, and the economy is the chief issue. In fact, it should be the first matter people mention when deeming Obama a failure.”
O’Hare has made scrutinizing Obama a cherished pastime since the then-Illinois senator defeated U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in a landslide four years ago.
“He had an impressive victory then,” the Point Breeze dweller said of Obama’s winning 365 electoral votes and 69,297,997 popular votes, according to the U.S. Electoral College. “However, what has happened since? Our debt is atrocious, the [American] Recovery [and Reinvestment] Act [of 2009] failed and health care is going to be disastrous.”
While he felt that trio alone warranted defeat for the 44th president, O’Hare found himself fully enraged Sept. 11, when an attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, left four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, dead. The administration’s response to the aggression peeved him and solidified his admiration for Romney, whom he deemed decisive and sure to lead without lying.
“I’m an old man and have followed each presidency closely since I was a teenager,” he said. “I’ve never been more petrified about this country’s well-being.”
While O’Hare considered Obama abysmal, husband and wife Tech and Nicolena Honors labeled him instrumental in unifying the land. The pair from 12th and Dickinson streets chose social issues, namely reproductive and marriage equality matters, as top concerns in seeking to re-elect him. Making their picks at the South Philadelphia Older Adult Center, 1430 E. Passyunk Ave., they left confident that Obama would be able to maximize his campaign slogan “Forward” and advance the nation.
“He hasn’t delivered on all he promised, but I feel he could with more time and resources,” Tech Honors, also fond of Green Party candidate Jill Stein, said. “It would be a shame to have his momentum suddenly interrupted.”
“We believe he is more capable of progress and that a second term will really bring issues such as women’s rights to the forefront, leaving such a matter for women alone to decide,” Nicolena Honors added.
The relentless campaign season tested the Passyunk Square residents less sternly than the ’08 affair because of their move from another battleground state, Ohio, which joined with Florida to form the most coveted pair of states. Regardless of location, they acknowledge the divisive nature of politics comes naturally, as voters’ decisions will affect the world’s third most populous country.
“We’re in a very partisan era, but we think Obama can achieve compromise,” Tech Honors said.
Traffic at the library, senior center and Barry Playground, 1800 Johnston St., confirmed pundits’ claims that the race would produce steady streams of passionate voters aware of the day’s significance. The playground featured numerous presidential signs and materials for the other races, including the contest between Republican challenger Tom Smith and incumbent Democrat U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, who won a second term with 54 percent. All three places have more registered Democrats and Republicans, but being in the minority did not deter Lauren Williams.
“I’m really worried about the healthcare system’s future, and I am tired of this administration’s failed promises, not that I believed in the rhetoric that much when Obama won in ’08,” the Marconi resident said. “I voted for Mitt because I believe he cares about small businesses and knows how to protect our country, which could mean making places pay for what they’ve done. Also, because of my [Jewish] heritage, I don’t think Obama is a friend to Israel.”
Each site’s judge of elections expected above-average turnout and noted the aforementioned issues and others had received mention among their ward members. Considering the whole experience, Anna DiNardo offered that the surplus of issues made keeping everything straight a challenge to voters.
“Today is the day to commit,” the judge at the library site said. “May the best man win.”
Contact Staff Writer Joseph Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org or ext. 124.
For Anthony Cardullo, owner of John’s Water Ice, 701 Christian St., it seemed like any other Thursday. “It was a perfectly normal 85-degree day,” Cardullo said . “We had the regular afternoon crowd.”
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