'Such an appalling human being': Ex-Trump voters reveal why they finally soured on the president

'Such an appalling human being': Ex-Trump voters reveal why they finally soured on the president
President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks to the Venezuelan American community at the Florida International University Ocean Bank Convocation Center Monday, Feb. 18, 2019 in Miami, Fla. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

Although President Donald Trump still has his hardcore MAGA base, he is not universally loved on the right by any means. Never Trump conservatives believe that he has been detrimental to the Republican Party and the conservative movement, and some who voted for Trump in 2016 aren’t planning to vote for him again this year. Voters who have changed their minds about Trump are the focus of a New York Times article published Wednesday by reporters Claire Cain Miller, Kevin Quealy and Nate Cohn.

In their article, the Times journalists aren’t talking about Never Trumpers who opposed Trump from the beginning — and they note that most of the voters who supported Trump in 2016 are still supporting him now. But they delve into some reasons why onetime supporters have turned against Trump and can’t bring themselves to vote for him again.

One such voter is 53-year-old Fayetteville, North Carolina resident Judith Goines, who told the Times: “I think if he weren’t such an appalling human being, he would make a great president, because I think what this country needs is somebody who isn’t a politician. But obviously, with the coronavirus and the social unrest we’re dealing with, that’s where you need a politician — somebody with a little bit more couth.”

Goines described herself as a staunch Republican but lamented, “I’m ashamed to say that I’ve voted for him.”

Miller, Quealy and Cohn draw a distinction between the president’s base and “Trump defectors” who “were not enthusiastic about him four years ago” but voted for him anyway.

The reporters explain:

A majority of the defectors disapprove of his performance on every major issue, except the economy, according to the Times/Siena polls. Somewhat surprisingly, they are demographically similar to the voters who continue to support him. They are only marginally likelier to be women or white college graduates.

Another defector the Times interviewed is 55-year-old Reeders, Pennsylvania resident John Crilly, who said he voted for Trump in 2016 “because the other option was Hillary Clinton” but won’t be voting for him again.

“What changed my mind? 120,000 deaths,” Crilly told the Times. “He refused to realize, ‘Oh my God, there’s a virus coming our way; shouldn’t we do something, guys?’ COVID was the turning point. It’s the thing that touches home with everybody.”

Similarly, 29-year-old Grand Rapids, Michigan resident Ariel Oakley told the Times: “With coronavirus, even just watching the press conferences, having him come out and say it’s all fake — I have family who have, unfortunately, passed away from it.”

A key part of Trump’s MAGA base has been far-right white evangelicals. A recent Pew Research poll found that while most people in that demographic still support Trump, his white evangelical support is slipping.

An article published on Pew’s website this week explains: “Roughly seven in ten white evangelical Protestants, 72%, say they approve of the way Trump is handling his job, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted June 16-22. That is a 6 percentage point drop from 78% recorded in April, in line with the 5-point drop during that period among U.S. adults overall. The share of white evangelicals who say they ‘very strongly’ approve of Trump’s performance is now at 59%, down 8 points from 67% in April.”

It continued: “The same survey finds that if the 2020 presidential election were held today, 82% of white evangelical Protestant registered voters would vote for Trump or lean toward voting for him, while 17% say they would back the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee, Joe Biden.”


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