GOP voters who don’t like Trump reveal their votes.

“Plugging My Nose and Voting for Trump”

“Plugging My Nose and Voting for Trump”

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
Oct. 31 2016 1:41 PM

“Plugging My Nose and Voting for Trump”

Our panel of Trump-averse Republican voters on who they have finally decided to vote for.

Voting booths inside the Early Vote Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 5, 2016.
Voting booths inside the Early Vote Center in Minneapolis on Oct. 5.

Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

In March, I spoke to 13 Republican voters who weren’t fond of Donald Trump. In May, I spoke to them again. Now that we’ve reached the home stretch, I thought I’d check in one last time to see how these folks are feeling one week out, and if anything has changed.

Seth Stevenson Seth Stevenson

Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.

This was never a scientific undertaking—my sample size is tiny, found through my own social and professional networks. I just wanted a glimpse of the thought processes of longtime Republicans who were uncomfortable with Trump as their party’s nominee. For this final edition, I invited my focus group to reveal who they’ll vote for, and to tell me their best-case and worst-case scenarios coming out of this election.

Advertisement

In terms of movement to or from the two major party candidates, Trump was the clear winner over this survey’s timeframe. Two people have gone from being probable Hillary Clinton voters to casting their votes for Gary Johnson. And two have gone from not voting, or writing in a different candidate, to becoming firm Trump votes.

Here are my panel’s replies (their answers have been edited and condensed):

Who: retired attorney, female, 52, California
Voting background: has always voted GOP in presidential elections but abstained in 2008
What she said she’d do in March if Trump became the nominee: probably not vote, possibly vote for Hillary
What she said in May: vote for Gary Johnson or not vote at all
What she says now: she’s voting for Gary Johnson

I am going to vote Johnson. Since I vote in California it doesn’t really make a difference. Best- case scenario: Clinton gets a resounding win in both the Electoral College and the popular vote. Worst-case scenario: The popular vote goes Trump, the Electoral College goes to Clinton, and Trump encourages violent protests. I think that is worse than Trump winning because things could get quite ugly at a time when we’ll need a new president to really tend to the office after all this silliness.

Advertisement

* * *

Who: stay-at-home parent, female, 31, Massachusetts
Voting background: has voted GOP in every previous presidential election
What she said she’d do in March if Trump became the nominee: vote for Hillary
What she said in May: vote for Hillary
What she says now: she’s probably voting for Hillary

I am so undecided. As a survivor of a sexual assault, Trump disgusts me to no end with his remarks and, undoubtedly, his actions. However, Hillary’s view on abortion is the main reason I am struggling so much with this election. She doesn’t seem just pro-choice, but almost pro-abortion. I have had three miscarriages that have only strengthened my view that life begins at conception. So these very different traumatic events in my life are now haunting me with both candidates.

The best-case scenario would be for Trump to win and for him to say, “Hey, this was fun, I’m gonna step down now and Mike Pence will be president.” The worst-case scenario would be for Trump to win and have the rest of the world first laugh at us, and then set Trump off, and then we end up with World War III. He’s not rational and not fit to lead.

Advertisement

I guess I am voting for Hillary because the murder and death she causes will be less likely to affect my child, while I truly am worried about increased terrorist attacks with Trump and his immature, smug inexperience.

* * *

Who: business owner and CEO, male, 44, Washington, D.C.
Voting background: has always voted GOP in presidential elections, save for a Libertarian vote in 2004
What he said he’d do in March if Trump became the nominee: pray
What he said in May: not vote
What he says now: he won’t vote or he’ll write in Mitt Romney

These candidates remain badly damaged human beings and neither are worthy of my vote. Since I live in Washington, D.C., I have the luxury of not mattering, so I’ll likely stay home. If I do go to vote, it will be because the race for our local ANC commissioner is close, in which case I’ll write in Mitt Romney for president.

Advertisement

Best-case scenario? Not sure there is one. Maybe Evan McMullin winning in Utah would be encouraging, in that at least one of our 50 states rejected this awful choice. A complete purging of the RNC leadership and the Trump enablers would also be a good outcome.

Worst-case scenario? They all seem to be worst cases. I hope Trump loses by a wide enough margin that it makes clear just how big a loser he is and damages his influence going forward.  But that might mean Hillary would feel emboldened to double down on the crap that drives us all nuts—the inability to admit fault, and the tendency to insult our intelligence with the spin, distortion, and downright dishonesty. If she wins narrowly, she might be slightly chastised, but then the Trump idiots will carry on for four years about a rigged election and other nonsense.

* * *

Who: retired attorney, male, 74, California
Voting background: has voted GOP since Barry Goldwater, with one break for Ross Perot in 1992
What he said he’d do in March if Trump became the nominee: vote for Trump
What he said in May: vote for Trump
What he says now: he’s voting for Trump

Advertisement

I am sick about all of my choices and about our governance going forward. My biggest concern is the Supreme Court and I still don’t trust HRC with that. It is that simple, and that painful, considering Trump’s behavior. The list of judges he says he would nominate is solid. I have done some fairly serious research on them, and I am fine with the vast majority.

None of that means I would be happy with Trump. My hope would be that he’d develop a team of advisers and be guided by them. But I have very little argument to show any certainty in that hope.

* * *

Who: civil litigation attorney, male, 45, California
Voting background: has always voted GOP in previous presidential elections
What he said he’d do in March if Trump became the nominee: probably vote for Trump
What he said in May: 80–90 percent sure he can’t vote for Trump under any circumstances
What he says now: he’s voting for Gary Johnson

My final decision is to vote for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson. In retrospect, Trump could have won me over had he at any point in the campaign started concentrating on issues and otherwise not acting like a complete jerk. But Trump has to be Trump. And I’m not buying what he is selling. I find that he lacks the character, ethics, judgment, and temperament to be president and, even more important, is likely to take the Republican Party and the country in a policy direction with which I disagree.

* * *

Who: stay-at-home parent, female, 38, Virginia
Voting background: has voted GOP in every presidential election
What she said she’d do in March if Trump became the nominee: write in a different candidate
What she said in May: write in someone or leave her ballot blank
What she says now: she’s voting for Trump

I can’t believe I’m saying this but, as of now, I will be voting for Trump. I still find him to be a boorish pig. But as time has passed since the primaries, Hillary’s corrupt actions that amount to criminal behavior—and the media’s obvious (and now undeniable) collusion in covering them up—have moved me from not voting if he is the candidate to doing what I can to prevent her from getting elected. That includes plugging my nose and voting for Trump.

It is clear that Trump will have many checks on his actions as president—from his fellow Republicans, the Democrats, and most of all the media. But Hillary not only thinks she’s above the law, she’s proven she pretty much is. Her staff, as well as the media, will go to great lengths to cover up her actions. She is a much greater risk to our civil liberties than he is. I may not fully trust he will execute a conservative agenda, but I know without a doubt she will carry out her extreme liberal agenda. I have no choice but to hope and pray he will come through and protect the things I hold most dear, because I know she will destroy them.

* * *

Who: retired executive, male, 75, New Jersey
Voting background: has always voted GOP in previous presidential elections
What he said he’d do in March if Trump became the nominee: vote for Hillary
What he said in May: vote for Hillary
What he says now: he’s voting for Hillary

My resolution to cast my first ever non-Republican presidential vote remains solid. Driven by growing disgust for Trump’s candidacy (what he says, what he doesn’t say, and what he stands for) during the time since last we spoke, I am ready for Nov. 8 and will live with any discomfort I might have with the Democratic candidate. The lack of guts on the part of Republican leaders to repudiate Trump from the start of the primary to now has left the party in ragged shape and confirms my belief that drastic change is needed.

So, the best-case scenario for me is a stunning Democratic victory from the presidential level on down the ballot. From this disaster, the Republican Party just might realize that the country has changed–demographically and philosophically–and start to restructure from within so that candidates that I can vote for are presented.

I have two worst-case scenarios:

  1. Trump gets elected and we have to deal with the domestic and international fallout for four years.
  2. Hillary gets elected and the Republicans remain obstructive of any of her initiatives that might be helpful to our country, its people, and its economic growth, and little gets done.

* * *

Who: tech worker, male, 39, Ohio
Voting background: has voted GOP in every previous presidential election
What he said he’d do in March if Trump became the nominee: not vote
What he said in May: maybe vote Libertarian
What he says now: he’s voting for Trump

During the third debate, Hillary Clinton brazenly extolled what the Democrats have long denied: that they appoint justices to impose extra-legislative policy when the pesky Constitution gets in the way of their agenda. WikiLeaks has confirmed again and again not only how corrupt Hillary is, but that her corruption has metastasized to the entire Democrat Party.

I was going to vote Johnson, but the Democrat agenda must be stopped at all costs. It will be close in Ohio and so I now must vote for Trump—a man whom I genuinely despise. And then I will cry myself to sleep, weeping for my country. I will not watch the returns, go on social media for a week, or ever confess to anyone for whom I voted.

Best-case: Trump wins. The GOP keeps the House and Senate. Trump resigns right after and Pence takes the oath. (Trump doesn’t want to be POTUS anyway.) Worst-case: Hillary wins and Dems take Congress. We kiss inalienable rights, the rule of law, and the republic itself goodbye. The Great American Experiment will be over.

* * *

Who: attorney, male, 33, Illinois
Voting background: has voted GOP in every previous presidential election
What he said he’d do in March if Trump became the nominee: vote for Hillary
What he said in May: vote for Hillary
What he says now: he’s voting for Johnson—unless it’s close, in which case Hillary

Nothing has really changed. Unless the race tightens a bit, I’ll vote for Gary Johnson in hopes the Libertarians get federal election funding (I get the irony), but I’m definitely pulling for Hillary. If the popular vote tightens, I’ll vote for Hillary.

My worst-case scenario is that Trump wins. My next worst-case would be Democratic control of the House and Senate. I’m ambivalent about the Senate. I want my anti-Trump senator (Mark Kirk) to win, but I want the GOP to pay for nominating Trump, but I would also like to moderate President Clinton. So I guess I’d say my best-case scenario is that the GOP retains the House and Senate.

* * *

Who: federal HR employee, female, 40, Kentucky
Voting background: has voted GOP in every previous presidential election
What she said she’d do in March if Trump became the nominee: vote for Hillary
What she said in May: even more likely to vote for Hillary
What she says now: she’s definitely voting for Hillary

Since last time, the election has become much more personal for me. Like many women, I have personal experience with gropers. I moved halfway across the country to take a new job and get away from a boss who started casually putting his hand on my bottom whenever he walked past. The last straw was when he exposed himself to one of our paralegals. When she reported him, she got fired and branded “an attention-seeking liar.”

That is a long way of saying that the choice for me has become more emotional than practical. I don’t think that Trump views women as equal human beings. Therefore, any claims he makes concerning my welfare are suspect as soon as they leave his mouth.

I will be voting in person on the 8th (Kentucky doesn’t have early voting) and dragging my husband along. He has been threatened with months on the couch if he fails to make the right choice. Our votes are kind of symbolic, however, as Trump has had Kentucky locked up since they typed “Republican” after his name. Best case for me: Hillary in a dominant win, Senate slightly Republican. Worst case: Trump wins. I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around all of the horrible implications.

Nonpolitically speaking, it will be nice to have a relationship with my friends and family again. I haven’t spoken to my mother since we had a shouty telephone call about how gross it is that evangelicals are still supporting Trump.

* * *

Who: attorney, female, 39, Virginia
Voting background: has always voted GOP in presidential elections, save for a Libertarian vote in 2000
What she said she’d do in March if Trump became the nominee: not vote
What she said in May: might vote for Sen. Ben Sasse or might not vote
What she says now: she’s voting for Evan McMullin

I officially resigned my membership in the county Republican committee a month ago. I could no longer affiliate with people who embrace the label “deplorable” as something funny, and don’t consider the rampant racism and sexism of Trump’s supporters something, well, deplorable. I’m voting for Evan McMullin, who is on the ballot in Virginia. Best-case scenario is that Hillary wins but that third-party and write-in votes also make a strong showing, giving momentum to political change. Worst-case scenario is that Trump wins.

* * *

Who: financial adviser, male, 30, Florida
Voting background: has voted GOP in every previous presidential election
What he said he’d do in March if Trump became the nominee: vote for Hillary
What he said in May: vote for Hillary
What he says now: he’s voting for Hillary

If anything, it’s gotten worse. I suspected it might, but bragging about sexual assault was a nice touch.

The debates were humiliating for the country. I really enjoyed the talking heads saying Trump’s best moments came when he was taking on free trade. You would think the entire Republican Party is made up of steelworkers and coal miners. The only thing these two candidates agree on (publicly) is that free trade is bad. That’s pretty scary to me.

The conventions were both awful. I found Trump’s speech to be stunning. You would think we were living in hell. His negativity is inaccurate and isn’t helping anyone who is struggling.

Clinton basically trotted out the socialist manifesto. But the released WikiLeaks transcripts of her paid speeches were very comforting to me. I also enjoyed her explaining the Bernie voters—spot on. I would have voted for her anyway, but that helped.

* * *

Who: consultant, male, 63, Florida
Voting background: has always voted GOP in previous presidential elections
What he said he’d do in March if Trump became the nominee: probably vote for Trump … or wait, change that, Hillary
What he said in May: still on the fence
What he says now: he’s still on the fence

My indecision remains. Following the debates, I was trending toward an anyone-but-Trump position. But the process has continued to degrade both candidates. The case against either of them (while different) is extensive and obvious. Our state ballot is very lengthy this year with amendments to the state constitution, judges, charter changes, as well as congressional races. I have researched every issue/candidate and made informed decisions on my mail-in ballot. With one exception: president. The ballot sits on my desk awaiting my vote. I will wait until the last moment to avail myself of any additional information. I will not rule out a write-in.

The best-case scenario, if Hillary wins as projected, is to hold the majority in the House and Senate and hope that she can work with leadership to address issues in a more compromising, less partisan manner, and not abuse the power of the executive branch to dictate policy and regulation. Anything is possible?