Election 2020

Beltway Ballots: Clinton Voters Pick Immigration as Decisive Issue; Trump Voters Pick National Security

First Lady Michelle Obama campaigns at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., on Sept. 16, 2016. (Rex Features via AP Images)

ANNANDALE, Va. — Some voters in the battleground state of Virginia told PJM that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s stance on immigration was the main reason they decided to vote for her.

Rafiq Abdullahi cited Clinton’s “inclusivity of all different cultures and backgrounds” as the reason he supported her.

“I relocated here from another country; most of her initiatives are welcoming and encompassing, so for the future, for me and my kids, I went with Hillary Clinton,” he told PJM outside of a polling place in Fairfax County, a Beltway region that Clinton won 270,494 votes to 128,654 for Donald Trump.

An immigrant who wanted to remain anonymous said Clinton’s plan for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants made him support her.

“I voted for Hillary Clinton just because the one thing I care about is those illegal immigrants. So she said she is going to take care of that, so that’s more important to me. All of those people don’t have green cards, so that’s more important for me; so they should be legal here,” he said. “People have been here for so long, for years, they haven’t gone back and it’s pretty sad, actually.”

Abdullahi said a “pathway to citizenship” should be considered for illegal immigrants on a “case by case” basis.

“Everybody has a different story, so that’s how it should be from my point of view,” he said.

Blanche Ibrahim mentioned Clinton’s personality when asked whom she chose and why.

“She’s more responsible and she’s clever. She’s very smart and she knows what she’s doing,” Ibrahim said.

Heading into Election Day, the Real Clear Politics polling average had Clinton up 5.3 percentage points in Virginia. The final split after a late Beltway surge was 50 percent Clinton and 45 percent Trump.

Samuel Watson told PJM he voted for Trump because of his stance on economic and national security issues.

“National security because I spent my life doing national security; therefore, I don’t think highly of what Hillary Clinton did with her emails and classified emails — mishandling classified information,” he said. “Economy and business — I look at that as the backbone of America, having good business taxes, few taxes, and that’s why on the Republican sample ballot we are urging people to vote against taxes and to vote against increasing debt in Fairfax County.” A referendum that would have levied a 4 percent tax on meals was shot down by voters Tuesday.

Victoria Bingham also voted for Trump due to his position on national security issues. She criticized Clinton’s tough rhetoric on Russia compared to Trump.

“I voted for Donald Trump, not because he’s a Republican and not because he isn’t a Democrat; I don’t vote by the party, I vote by the issues. I served 16 years in the American military and the last thing I want to see is the war hit home, and what concerns me the most is the warmongering currently on the part of Hillary Clinton,” she said.

“She’s come out, I’ve listened to her on videos talk about how she wants to attack Iran, I don’t know why, Iran has never attacked us, that would be an illegal preemptive effort. She constantly says she wants Assad to go. I really don’t know who died and left her God so she can decide who should rule in another country, but the rhetoric is disturbing because it’s all about who she plans to attack next. I think the world is getting sick and tired of the United States’ military adventures all over the world,” she added.

Bingham said none of the nations where the U.S. has intervened militarily in recent years have attacked the U.S. so it is time to elect Trump, who has said he wants to have a relationship with countries such as Russia.

“What could possibly be wrong with that? The alternative is war with Russia. I mean, if she attacks Iran they have an ally called Russia and Russia has an ally called China and what exactly are we trying to undertake? The destruction of the entire planet? So this is one of the many reasons I did vote and it wasn’t a Republican question at all,” she said. “I haven’t really seen the Republicans stand up and support Donald Trump. They put a lot of money into the McCain campaign, some millions of dollars, and the Romney campaign.”

Kristen Mosuch told PJM that Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson is a better alternative to the two major party candidates.

“I’m definitely never a Hillary fan. I work in national security, so obviously that has a big effect on how I am voting this year. Gary Johnson seems to be more relaxed, more social focused, he’s a fiscal Republican and a social Democrat – so I am sort of in the middle, which puts me right in line with what he is doing.”

Some representatives at polling places that PJM visited in Annandale and Alexandria said there were long lines in the morning but the voting process went smoothly overall.