If four years ago they voted for historic change, on Tuesday, Maryland supporters of President Barack Obama cast their ballots for patience.

"I figure that in four years, he couldn't have done everything to right the course after the previous administration," Kimberly Shorter, 39, of Woodlawn said after casting her vote for him. "Of course, there was some disappointment with the fact that he didn't do everything he set out to do, but he's human and he didn't have a lot of cooperation from Congress."

With most of the state's precincts reporting, Obama appeared on track to win Maryland by close to the same margin as 2008, when he won 62 percent of the vote in this reliably Democratic state and went on to become the nation's first black president.

Tuesday's vote may not have carried the same historic weight. And much of the hope that swept the country four years ago has been tempered as the economic recovery remains sluggish. But voters cited the immensity of the problems the president inherited as a reason for giving him four more years to continue trying to solve them.

"The Bush administration had eight years, so if you're going to make adjustments, you're going to need at least the same amount of time," said Rashida Jones, 35, who lives in Northeast Baltimore. "You can't do the impossible."

Still, the troubled economy weighed on many, even those who decided to stick with the president.

"I'm a small-business owner, and my ship is sinking," said Carl Persiani, 64, of Dundalk. "But ... to change midstream is the wrong thing to do. I'm still torn because it's either four more years, or four years of what?"

Others, especially those who have suffered in the economic downturn, were ready to start over with a different president.

Trish Rhoads, 45, said she's been unable to find work for the past two years, and she's fed up with Obama. Despite the statewide referendum questions on the ballot, the Catonsville woman said voting for Mitt Romney was the main reason she came out Tuesday.

"We want good change for the country," she said. "Right now, we're going downhill. We need somebody to turn things around. … We're going down the toilet."

David Ritzel, 55, of Dundalk, who lost his job during the real-estate crash and couldn't find permanent work after that, also voted for change. He said he'd never voted for a Republican until Tuesday, when he threw in his lot with Romney.

"I want something different," Ritzel said. "I'm not blaming Obama for the economy, he's only one man, but I just don't like what's gone on the last four years."

Among the things he disliked: bailing out the banks that he feels didn't deserve to be rescued.

But Obama supporters say he did what it took to start lifting the country out of the recession, including bailing out the banking and auto industries.

"It's about getting our country back on the right track," said Nathaniel Johnson, 54, of Catonsville. While the recovery has been sluggish, Johnson said, "he just needs more time."

Michelle Renner-Lewis, 22, agreed, voting in her Mount Vernon neighborhood for Obama even as her twin sister and fellow University of Baltimore student, Muriel, voted for Romney.

"The change is happening slowly," Michelle Renner-Lewis said. "We shouldn't just vote him out so quickly."

Several voters expressed distrust of Romney, particularly on social issues and health care.

"I don't like the way Romney and [vice presidential candidate Paul] Ryan talk about taking away rights for women," said Linda Bromley, 57, of Catonsville. "I'm pro-choice."

Additionally, Bromley said, she feared that the Republican ticket would dismantle or drastically change Medicaid, which they relied on for a disabled daughter who died last year.

George Garrett, 42, of Annapolis similarly credits federal programs with helping him acquire treatment for a heart ailment, as well as training for a new career after losing his job with the U.S. Postal Service. That persuaded him to vote Tuesday for Obama.

"If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be able to do the job I have now," said Garrett, who runs a program at a senior assisted-living home.

He gave Romney some consideration but decided against him after reviewing his record as Massachusetts governor and his stance against federal funding for PBS. "Sesame Street taught me my ABCs and 1-2-3s," Garrett said.

Ray Palmer, 31, of Northeast Baltimore's Cedonia neighborhood, said he believes Obama, unlike Romney, "is for the people."

Palmer said he hoped that in a second term, the president could further stabilize the economy and cut the deficit.

"Someone needs to get the job done. I hope he's the guy to do it," said Palmer, a distribution manager for a home heath care business. "I'm not saying I don't think Obama hasn't gotten the job done. But he does work as a team with Congress."

Like others, Palmer was voting for Obama for a second time, gladly, even if his choice didn't carry the same monumental weight as the first time around.

"Last time," he said, "it was more exciting because it was historic."

Baltimore Sun reporters Erin Cox, Justin Fenton, Erica L. Green, Alison Knezevich, Andrea F. Siegel and Timothy B. Wheeler contributed to this article.

jean.marbella@baltsun.com

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