Interviews with swing-state voters: The longtime Republican disillusioned with her party

November 2, 2012

From now until election day, Wonkblog will be interviewing voters from swing states about how they're thinking about the election. We will be interviewing both decided and undecided voters from both parties. We thank the Washington Post/ABC News poll for putting us in touch with these voters. You can see the rest of the interviews here.

Maggie Neale is a 69-year-old retiree living in Central Virginia. She's a registered Republican who voted for John McCain in 2008 but plans to vote for President Obama this time around. We talked by phone.

Who are you planning to vote for in this election?

Well, my husband would roll over in the grave if he heard this… actually he’s up on the shelf so maybe he’d explode [laughs softly]. But I’m going to vote for Mr. Obama.

And did you vote for him last time around?

No, I voted for McCain in 2008. I'm a Republican. I did vote for Carter way back when, but I've pretty much voted for Republicans ever since. If I had been a year older, I would've voted for Mr. Kennedy when he was running.

So what changed your mind this time?

I liked the man running against Obama in '08, and I don’t like the man who’s running against him now. And I don’t think Obama’s done that bad a job. People will point to the economy being bad, but the problems have been worldwide. We haven’t slipped any, and we’ve come up since.

Do you have criticisms of Obama?

He could have been stronger on a few issues. Maybe on the debt.

And what don't you like about Romney?

His feelings on a lot of issues dealing with women, his attitude toward women. I think he’s for the upper class. I know if Obama wins, my taxes will go up because I live on stock income, since my husband was a farmer, but... I don’t know if I'm going old or what, but I’m more socially-minded than I used to be.

Were social issues a big factor for you in the last election?

No. Last time, it was Afghanistan and things like that. And the economy. But Obama has inherited this mess, this banker’s mess.

And what's your take on Afghanistan?

We never should’ve gone over to start with. We’re making ourselves broke with all these wars. And a lot of it’s about oil and all that. We need to concentrate on using less oil at home and being energy conscious. And that would probably better under Obama, especially with conservation and the fuel economy standards. I do think we need to be more conscious of everything we do environmentally. Romney would get rid of a lot of environmental rules on companies, but I don’t think that’s the right way to go.

Has Obama's health care law been a big issue for you?

I don’t think the health care bill was the best it could have been, but the country needed something and a step in the right direction. And I think repealing it would be awful for the poor and those on the edge.

Have you been saturated with ads out in Virginia? Anything that stands out for you?

I really don’t pay much attention to TV. I read. My most contact has been through the phone. I'm out here in central Virginia, rural Virginia. I bet the Republican National Committee has called me 10 times for every call Obama has made. It's gotten to the point where I just hang up when I see the initials RNC.

Anything else that strikes you about this election?

I don’t know that I have ever completely voted my conscience before, but the Republican Party has gone way way too far to the right. I know a lot of middle-class people will vote for them because they think it will make economy better, but I think we’re doing the best we can right now. 

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Ezra Klein · November 2, 2012