Around lunchtime at the Cobb Civic Center, only 55 votes had been cast, poll workers said. Stan Gardocki of Marietta, who worked in IT before he lost his job in the recession, was one of them, and said he voted for Newt Gingrich.
“He’s got the intelligence and experience to do the job, and I think he’s the only one that I’ve seen who’s willing to take on Obama, one for one,” Gardocki said. “He’s not going to back off attacking the policies that have got us where we are today.”
Over at Marietta Middle School, about 389 people had voted by 2 p.m.
Tom Lewis, a grandfather of seven who is retired from the trucking industry, said he also voted for Gingrich.
“I just like what he stands for,” Lewis said. “He makes a lot of sense. He has good positions. I’d love to see him debate Obama.”
Lewis believes Romney will win the GOP nomination, but regardless, he said Romney will not get his vote.
“I think he’s a little bit liberal,” Lewis said.
But if Gingrich can pull off a victory in the primary, Lewis does believe he could beat Obama.
“Oh, yes, I think he could,” Lewis said. “He’s very strong, and he’s got a tremendous experienced background in government. He’s got a lot going for him.”
Pat Lowzinski of Marietta, a grandmother of two and registered nurse, voted for Rick Santorum.
“I think he’s closest to looking at policy and the way our government runs probably closest to me,” she said.
Lowzinski said she isn’t sure if Santorum can pull off a win in the nomination, but hopes he will, as well as winning against Obama.
“We’ve moved away from what I think our government should do,” Lowzinski said. “Our government should keep us safe, that we should be a stand-alone country and kind of let us be, and I think it’s gotten into micromanaging things that don’t need to be micromanaged. Being a registered nurse, always working in Catholic facilities, and that’s why I always did work in Catholic facilities because then I wouldn’t be in that position, so yeah, that troubles me greatly, greatly, greatly.”
James Hibbs of Marietta, who retired from the postal service, and his wife, Laronda Hibbs, also voted for Santorum.
“He’s promised to do something about the gas situation,” James Hibbs said. “I just watched Obama, and it’s his fault we’re in this problem we are. Newt, he’s too wishy-washy. You can’t tell with him.”
But even though he voted for Santorum, Hibbs expects Romney to win the nomination.
“He’s got the money,” Hibbs said. “He’s got the power and that’s what it takes to be a politician.”
Laronda Hibbs said whoever the nominee is will beat Obama.
“He’s messed things up so bad a lot of those people that voted for Obama are not going to vote again for him. They’re going to find someone else,” she said.
Mary Stoddard of Marietta, a graphic designer and mother of three, said there is only one candidate for her.
“I support our President,” Stoddard said. “I support him totally in everything that he’s done so far trying to reduce the deficit, increase the tax base, everything.”
She cast her ballot at Marietta Middle School for the president to get the Democratic nomination, for which he is unopposed.
Romney might have trouble against Obama, she said.
“Some people don’t like his religion,” she said.
Over at the Government Service Center in east Cobb, 308 people had voted by 3 p.m.
Judd Oyler, a grandmother of six, said she prefers Gingrich, but doesn’t think he can win, so she voted for Romney.
“He’s got the money, and he’s got the campaign people,” and it will take that kind of machine to beat Obama, Oyler said of Romney.
Obama must be removed, she said, because, “I think he’s done a horrible job. I think he’s a socialist. ... I just don’t think he’s done anything good.”
Jack Jackson of east Cobb, who’s in the furniture manufacturing business, voted for Gingrich.
“Gingrich is my man,” Jackson said. “The things that he values, the constitutional history, the history of this country, being aware of where we came from, where we want to go as a nation, he’s the most astute candidate running.”
Jackson said Gingrich can win the nomination if he gets the momentum from winning Georgia and a few other Southern states.
“He’s smarter,” Jackson said, in comparing Gingrich to the other Republican candidates. “He’s definitely smarter. He knows how Washington works. Being that smart, I think, qualifies him head and shoulders above the other candidates.”
As for whether Gingrich can beat Obama, Jackson said, “I think anybody we run can beat Obama.”
Jacob and Crystal Shores of east Cobb, a Life University student and dietitian, respectively, said they voted for Romney.
“He’s just the best candidate right now that we’ve got to choose from,” Crystal Shores said. “It comes down to how can we get Obama out of the office.”
The Shores said they heard Democrats were coming out to vote for Santorum.
“That was our ammo to make sure we came,” Crystal Shores said.
Jacob Shores does not believe Romney’s religion should be a factor.
“As long as whoever in office makes decisions that are the best for the country, I don’t care what religion they believe in,” he said.
Pat McInerney of east Cobb, a father of two and salesman, said he voted for Romney because he also believes Romney has the best chance of winning.
“I like Gingrich and a lot of the things he says,” McInerney said. “I think he’s just probably not going to appeal to enough of the moderate votes to swing them over, whereas Romney can. And Santorum is just a little bit too religious on some issues that are going to scare off some voters. Even though I may agree with some of those issues, I don’t think those are the primary concerns for this election.”