WASHINGTON (AP) – Twelve states in all cast votes for presidential nominees on March 1, also known as Super Tuesday, the biggest single-day delegate haul of the nomination contests. Republicans are voting in 11 states, with 595 delegates at stake. Democrats are casting ballots in 11 states, too, plus American Samoa, with 865 delegates up for grabs.
Here’s a look at what some voters had to say as they went to the polls Tuesday:
Retired Marine Corps. Gen. Bill Weise joined about a dozen people waiting patiently in line at the Greenspring precinct in Fairfax County, which traditionally has the highest turnout in Virginia. The precinct is made up entirely of voters from the sprawling Greenspring retirement community.
The 86-year-old Weise says seven months of agonizing over who he’d vote for came down to the final 10 seconds before he filled in the bubble next to Ted Cruz’s name. Ben Carson was his favorite candidate, but he concluded Carson wasn’t viable. In sorting through the other GOP candidates, Weise felt Cruz would make better decisions than Trump.
“I’ve read Cruz’s autobiography,” he said. “He’s not perfect. But show me somebody who is. …The ideal candidate does not exist.”
Michael Kernyat of Chesterfield County, Virginia, voted for Ohio’s Republican Gov. John Kasich even though he thinks he probably just threw his vote away.
The 60-year-old retired computer consultant said Kasich is “the most reasonable person running” but probably has no chance of beating Donald Trump.
“Nobody is going to stop that freight train,” Kernyat said. “I think it’s going to come down between him and Hillary.”
He said people seem to be rallying behind Trump because “they’re tired of politics as usual,” but he prefers the moderate positions of Kasich.
“The only one who really scares me in this election is Bernie,” Kernyat said.
Nicole Freed, a disabled 32-year-old Army veteran who served in Iraq, describes herself a moderate Democrat but she voted in Virginia’s GOP primary, choosing Marco Rubio, with the aim of knocking Trump off the ballot in November.
“I can’t let Trump win,” Freed said.
As for her November vote, she’s conflicted.
“I’m probably going to end up voting for Hillary Clinton in the General Election just because – well, I don’t really like her that much either but there aren’t any good choices.”
Freed called Bernie Sanders’ tax plan “ludicrous” and said her preference for president would either be Ohio Republican John Kasich or Vice President Joe Biden, who decided against running.
Though she’s against Trump, she said she’s not against all of his ideas, and likes his stance on immigration.
“Some things I like about him,” Freed said. “But I feel like he’s going to get us into a war with somebody who’s going to beat us. I don’t think we can fight the entire Muslim world.”
Tyler Murphy, a 26-year-old Boston resident who works as a project manager for a construction company, voted for Trump on Tuesday even though he thinks the billionaire businessman is “undeniably wrong on a lot of things.”
For better or worse, he said, the controversial candidate is the “wake-up call” the country needs.
“Ultimately, if we have to elect someone who is borderline crazy to get people to understand what’s going on, then that’s what we have to do,” Murphy said.
An independent, he voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 and Barack Obama in 2008 and said he’s donated to both parties in the past.
Murphy said that if Trump had not become such a viable candidate, he would likely have voted for Hillary Clinton.
“I just don’t think she’s going to be the person to shake people out of their seats,” he said. “She’s not what the country needs right now.”
Karen Williams, a lifelong Democrat from Duluth, Georgia, said she voted for Hillary Clinton. But the 55-year-old voter mostly has her eyes on Trump, whom she wants to stop from gaining the White House.
“I can’t see him talking to dignitaries from other countries, insulting people,” she said. “A lot of countries don’t take kindly to insults.”
Williams is so concerned about the campaign season’s “childish behavior” in the face of very real challenges for the country that she said a prayer before going in to vote Tuesday.
“I prayed,” she said. “I prayed for this nation. I really did. I’m really concerned.”
Associated Press writers Alex Sanz in Johns Creek, Georgia; Philip Marcelo in Boston; Steve Szkotak in Richmond, Virginia; Larry O’Dell in Chesterfield County, Virginia; and Matthew Barakat in Falls Church, Virginia, contributed to this report.