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Listen to Me: Spotlight Virginia

President Barack Obama kicked off his reelection campaign at a rally in Richmond, Virginia May 5. Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

President Obama heads to Virginia Beach on Friday, the first of several Virginia campaign stops scheduled for this weekend. A key battleground state worth 13 Electoral College votes, Virginia will likely be a top target for both Obama and Mitt Romney right up until Election Day on Nov. 6.

So what topics are on the voters’ minds? Over half of the Virginians interviewed for the NewsHour’s Listen to Me project cited the economy or jobs as the most important issue this election season.

“I would like to get a job when I graduate, and so the state of the economy is important to me,” said Olivia Brittingham of Virginia Beach.

Danville resident Danny Carlton works at a furniture company and said jobs are the most important issue to him. “We need to get China out of the situation and start having more jobs back in here. Martinsville is about a ghost town for the furniture companies, because everything is overseas now in China.”

Nationally, Virginia is fairing well in terms of unemployment levels. As you can see in our Vote 2012 Map Center, the state’s unemployment rate is at 5.5 percent, almost 3 points lower than the national average, which has been stagnant at 8.2 percent.

Although the Virginia voters we talked to were divided on whether the political system is broken, almost everyone said they were hopeful about the future.

“Typically the American system has a way of correcting itself,” said Blacksburg resident Doug Goldsmith. “So we’ll fluctuate one direction, back the other direction, and I’ve seen that several times during my life.”

Orange County voter Nancy Arnold agreed. “I’m hopeful, I think it’s not going to be easy. I don’t think it would be for any president coming in,” she said. “We have a lot of issues that we have to address, but I hope that Congress can get together.”

See all of the Listen to Me videos.

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