BY ANNE STANTON, and MICHAEL WALTON
TRAVERSE CITY — Aside from the customary elation and disappointment following a presidential campaign, area voters said they'd really like to see politicians spend less and solve more.
Ruth Tornga and Elizabeth Holbrook were sitting in an Acme Burger King despairing over the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the presidential races.
"Think of how many children that would feed," said Tornga, a grandmother of two.
"And how much debt this country is in, and how it could have helped that," added Holbrook, 27, a Romney supporter.
Folks had lots of opinions of why the election went to President Barack Obama. Lynette McKnight, a 54-year-old IT trainer, believes Romney's wealth didn't help him.
"He was unable to identify with the ordinary person," said McKnight, visiting from Dallas.
But ultimately, she said, specific issues decided the final tally, and plenty of voters interviewed Wednesday said their votes were issue-driven.
Jenny Hengesvach, an employee of Bright Side Cafe in Kingsley, voted for Obama despite normally siding with Republican candidates. Hengesvach said her husband works as a unionized employee at Pugsley Correctional Facility. Romney's anti-union stance decided her vote.
"I'm not really all for the free health care, but I guess I had to weigh my options," she said. "That's a huge thing for me, support for unions."
Susan Hadley, of Traverse City, said she voted for Obama in large part because of the candidates' views of military involvement in overseas conflicts.
Hadley, who was attending a veteran's luncheon in Kingsley Wednesday, said her Marine son died from complications of the Gulf War. Hadley supported Obama ending military operations in Iraq, his opposition of military intervention in Syria, and his more moderate stance toward Iran.
"It was pretty clear Romney did not feel that way," she said. "Maybe if one of his five sons went to war he would."
Connie O'Rourke, 61, of Traverse City said women like making their own healthcare choices, but Paul Ryan, Romney's running mate, threatened to change that.
"Young women haven't been raised to believe it could go that way. I can imagine that would be very shocking to them," O'Rourke said.
Many voters said they hope legislators from both parties will finally work together and end the gridlock plaguing Congress since Obama's 2008 election.
Republicans and Democrats need to stop perpetually campaigning, find common ground and pass meaningful legislation, said Romney supporter Bob Weaver, of East Bay Township.
"My concern is (both parties) will draw a line in the sand again and we will just keep floundering," Weaver said.
Jackie Schmitt, a retiree from Acme, wants Congress to put solutions before politics.
"Congress is hugely responsible for our country's failures," Schmitt said. "To have people fighting and dissing each other — it's awful to listen to. You want to hear them talk about the right solution and why it will work."
R.B. Frazier, 84, of Acme, believes there's a good reason President Obama has troubles with Congress.
"Obama is a spender and Congress is trying to be conservative," Frazier said. "So every time he wants a big spending bill, they're going to have a big fight."