On an overcast morning in Stafford, Virginia, CNN spoke to a number of GOP voters at the Courthouse Community Center in Virginia’s 7th congressional district — a district currently represented by Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, but one on which the GOP wants to build on its gains in the November race for the Democrat-held seat in the US House of Representatives.
The top issues for these Republican voters on Tuesday were inflation, immigration and education.
Jennie Austin, a 62-year-old voter who was undecided about voting on Tuesday, said she noticed rising food prices when mushroom soup was $2 a can. She said road improvements and petrol prices are also a concern.
Austin, who was a Democrat until former President Barrack Obama’s second term and voted for former President Donald Trump in both 2020 and 2016, condemned the current “mud fight” 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 groceries, he now spends $290.
“What they do in Washington affects us here in Northern Virginia,” he said.
“It’s not going so well at the moment. So many families struggle,” said Linda Robertson, a 74-year-old retired school bus driver who has driven students of all ages in Stafford for 30 years.
She cited rising gas prices as a problem. As a widow, Robertson said, “It’s hard to be alone.”
She also cited immigration as a top concern, saying Trump, whom she elected in 2020 and 2016, was “not a politician” but “a businessman” and had “done a good job.”
“I jumped in at the deep end because I’m tired of it,” says Juliet Schweiter, a substitute teacher and mother of three teenagers. Schweiter, a Stafford County voter, volunteered for Crystal Vanuch’s campaign for Congress in Tuesday’s election and is listed on Vanuch’s campaign website as someone who supported Vanuch.
Vanuch is the current Chief Executive of Stafford County and a Republican nominee for the US House of Representatives.
“I’ve made it my personal mission 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 Gov. 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, saying the current government “throw your hands up and say, ‘I don’t know what to do.'”
“I always voted on the topics,” said Schweiter. “The Democratic Party has walked in at the deep end.”
Edward O’Brien, a 59-year-old Republican voter, said he was “disgusted by the whole list of problems,” citing “the limit,” “limits imposed on fossil fuel production,” and “forced electric vehicle production” as his most urgent concern.
“People don’t want a quick 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 she cares about most. She said she would like “more parental involvement” in schools and believes that “CRT needs to go away.”
Anthony Johnson, a Democrat voter who spoke to CNN in Stafford on Tuesday, said “voter rights,” “gender equality” and “human rights” are paramount.
“It is a right, a privilege and an honor to vote,” said the 56-year-old Democrat.