RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — What North Carolina voters had to say as they visited the polls Tuesday:
Jim Newman, 28, of Concord, says he voted for Mitt Romney. He said he made up his mind after Romney's performance in the first debate. Newman said he voted for Obama in 2008, but the web designer said he is switching his vote because the economy is still struggling.
"I'm lucky. I have my own business. But I have a lot of friends who have been unable to find work."
"I thought the economy would turn around. It just hasn't."
Alicia Hernandez, 31, of Charlotte, voted for Obama. The elementary school teacher says it was a no-brainer. Republicans, especially Romney, have turned off Hispanic voters with tough talk about illegal immigration, she said. Meanwhile, Obama has reached out to the Latino community.
"President Obama is really trying. At every turn, the Republicans have tried to stop him. They said no to health care. They said no to financial reforms."
Mike Henry, 43, of Charlotte, a financial analyst, says he voted for Romney. The reason: the massive budget deficits.
"They (politicians) keep spending and spending and running up trillions in deficits. And who's going to pay that debt? Our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. We need politicians who are going to go in there and clean up the mess."
He's married with two children and says he's struggled over the last four years. At one point he was unemployed. But he said that he was lucky because his wife is a lawyer. "She kept us going when I was out of work."
Jerome Gantt, 34, of Holly Springs voted for President Barack Obama in 2012 after voting for Republican John McCain in 2008 in part because McCain had a better economic plan and in part because he didn't want to see the first black president thrown into such a bad economic situation. The employee at a pharmaceutical company thinks Obama earned another four years to get the country on a better track.
"Even if Obama wins, I won't go out celebrating tonight," Gantt said. "We won't win until four years from now when we can see what the results are of his actions."
Robert Dan Perry, 64, has been waiting for Election Day in 2012 even since seeing President Barack Obama win in 2008.
"I've been waiting for four years to cast this vote," said Perry, who picked Republican Mitt Romney.
"We just need new leadership. We've needed it for a long time. Romney is a businessman, and we need to run government like a business," said Perry, who is self-employed.
Irene Jones, 57, enthusiastically cast another vote for President Barack Obama. She said people in the country have a short memory if they don't want to give him credit for pushing through changes in the health care law and equal pay for women.
"I remember how bad things were in 2008. I think this country would have gone into ruin if he hadn't won," said Jones, a pastor and bus driver for Zebulon.
Georgia Biggie, 55, voted for Republican John McCain in 2008 and voted for Mitt Romney this year.
She said President Barack Obama's economic policies have been a disaster and will only get worse if he gets four more years.
"We need less government programs, not more. If this continues, I can see us going down the path of more socialism and turning into a country like Greece or Spain," the retired teacher said.
Tamara Johnson, 35, of Apex, voted for Democrat Walter Dalton for governor. She watched his debates with Republican Pat McCrory, but it was tough to decide who to support, unlike the much easier choice she had for President Barack Obama.
"I did go for Walter Dalton. But we'll see how he goes on that one. That one was kind of a toss-up. It wasn't a clear-cut decision," Johnson said.
Ramon Barreras, 59, said he supported Republican Pat McCrory for governor in 2008 and he was voting for him again in 2012. Barreras was let go from a job with IBM five years ago and has only been able to find part time work since. He said McCrory's ability to help Charlotte grow when he was mayor and his business background interested him.
"Something has to change. People need jobs, and not just part time jobs or jobs that don't pay well," Barreras said. "I think McCrory can turn things around and do it quickly."
Associated Press writers Allen G. Breed in Apex and Jeffrey Collins in Zebulon contributed to this report.