On an overcast morning in Stafford, Virginia, CNN spoke with a number of GOP voters at the Courthouse Community Center, located in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District – a district currently represented by Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, but one where the GOP aims to build on its gains in the November race for the Democratic-held US House seat.
Top of mind for these Republican voters Tuesday was inflation, immigration and education.
Jennie Austin, a 62-year-old voter who was undecided heading into the polls Tuesday, said she noticed rising grocery prices when mushroom soup became $2 a can. She said road improvement and gas prices were also areas of concern.
Austin, who used to be a Democrat until former President Barrack Obama’s second term and voted for former President Donald Trump in both 2020 and 2016, decried the current “mudslinging” in politics.
Cisco Cividanes, a 77-year-old retired marine who used to work for the state, said that while he used to spend $275 a week on food, he is now spending $290.
“What they do in Washington affects us here in Northern Virginia,” he said.
“Right now it’s not going real well. So many families are struggling,” said Linda Robertson, a 74-year-old retired school bus driver who drove students of all ages for 30 years in Stafford.
She cited rising gas prices as a problem. As a widow, Robertson said, “it’s hard being by yourself.”
She also listed immigration as a top concern and said Trump, who she voted for in 2020 and 2016, “was not a politician,” but rather “a businessman” and, “did a good job.”
“I have gone off the deep end because I’m tired of what is going on,” said Juliet Schweiter, a substitute teacher and the mother of three teenagers. Schweiter, a Stafford County voter, was volunteering with Crystal Vanuch’s campaign for Congress at the polls Tuesday and is listed as someone who has endorsed Vanuch on Vanuch’s campaign website.
Vanuch is the current Stafford County Board chair and a Republican candidate for the US House seat.
“I have made it my personal job to be in politics,” Schweiter said, adding that she talks to her community and friends about politics and the importance of voting. Schweiter rallied for Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin last November and told her neighbors about him, she said.
She cited the border, critical race theory (CRT), second amendment rights and inflation as key areas of concern and said the current administration is “throwing its hands up, saying ‘I don’t know what to do.'”
“I’ve always voted on the issues,” Schweiter said. “The Democratic party has gone off the deep end.”
Edward O’Brien, a 59-year-old Republican voter, said he was “disgusted with the whole slate of issues,” and listed “the border,” “limits imposed on the production of fossil fuel,” and “forced production of electric vehicles” as the most pressing of his concerns.
“People don’t want a rapid transition to electric vehicles,” he said.
Likewise, Michelle West, a 59-year-old Republican voter who voted for Trump in 2020 and 2016, said education, the border and inflation are also the top three issues that matter to her most. She said she wants to see “more parental involvement” in schools and believes that “CRT needs to go.”
Anthony Johnson, a Democratic voter CNN spoke with in Stafford on Tuesday, said “voters rights,” “gender equality” and “human rights” are of the utmost importance.
“It is a right and privilege and honor to vote,” the 56-year-old Democrat said.