How frustrated Republicans view Trump’s first 100 days.

Our Panel of Frustrated Republican Voters on Trump’s First 100 Days

Our Panel of Frustrated Republican Voters on Trump’s First 100 Days

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
April 26 2017 4:23 PM

“It’s Been Chaos”

How our panel of frustrated Republican voters view Trump’s first 100 days.

170424_POL_GOP-Voter-Checkin

Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Thinkstock.

Last year, I began talking to a panel of Republican voters who weren’t fond of Donald Trump. I spoke to them during the primaries in March, after Trump became the presumptive nominee in May, and just before the election at the end of October. This was never a scientific undertaking—my sample size is tiny, found through my own social and professional networks. It’s just been a glimpse into the thought processes of some longtime Republicans who are deeply uncomfortable with the idea of Trump as the face of their party. With the 100-day mark of the new administration nearing, I thought I’d check in with them once again to see how they’re feeling about the Trump era.

Who: attorney, female, 53, California

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Voting background before 2016: always voted GOP in presidential elections but abstained in 2008

How did you vote in November? Any regrets? I voted for Gary Johnson as the least worst of the batch. I have no regrets, especially because in deep blue coastal California it wouldn’t have made any difference.

How do you feel about Trump so far? What’s pleased/disappointed/enraged you? I think the administration has made some fantastic appointments. I know Neil Gorsuch a little, and he is great. Neomi Rao [Trump’s pick for “regulatory czar”] is wonderful. [Food and Drug Administration chief] Scott Gottlieb is great, too. But I think that this success is in spite of Trump. He is a walking dumpster fire. The palace intrigue and infighting is embarrassing, as are the crony corruption and conflicts of interest. The situations with Russia and North Korea are frightening, and I don’t think he has a clue. The Obamacare debacle was awful and showed the superficial connection he has with promises he made in the campaign.

Would you like to see a GOP primary challenger in 2020? If so, who? Sure, I would like to see a GOP challenger put us out of our misery. I’d like to see Trump impeached. I was a Carly Fiorina fan, but I think that is unlikely to happen. I am guessing that Trump has poisoned the well for business executives in national politics for some time.

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Who: business owner and CEO, male, 45, Washington, D.C.

Voting background before 2016: always voted GOP in presidential elections, save for a Libertarian vote in 2004

How did you vote in November? Any regrets? As painful as it was, I voted for Hillary Clinton. No regrets—Evan McMullin wasn’t on my ballot.

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How do you feel about Trump so far? What’s pleased/disappointed/enraged you? The Gorsuch nomination pleased me. The address to Congress was fine. Everything else has been a complete disaster. He is an awful president and an awful human.

Would you like to see a GOP primary challenger in 2020? If so, who? I seriously doubt it would happen, but if Ben Sasse ran, I’d quit my job and go door to door for him. And if they had the balls to do it, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, or Lindsey Graham would also be infinitely more acceptable than a second term with this clown.

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Who: civil litigation attorney, male, 47, California

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Voting background before 2016: always voted GOP in previous presidential elections

How did you vote in November? Any regrets? I voted for McMullin by write-in here in California, as he was not on the ballot. I do not regret this “protest” vote.

How do you feel about Trump so far? What’s pleased/disappointed/enraged you? My feeling about the Trump presidency is that it is unfolding pretty much the way I would have expected. He has not changed his personality, character, or demeanor. He is still an undisciplined and needlessly provocative blowhard and bully. I am pleased with some things, like the Gorsuch nomination and appointment, and seemingly tougher action internationally, like the Syria bombing. I’m disappointed by the travel ban, failure of Obamacare repeal, and his continued unpresidential behavior.

Would you like to see a GOP primary challenger in 2020? If so, who? I would rather have someone else in that office such as Mike Pence or Rubio, but at this point I can’t say I would advocate a 2020 challenger merely because we have no idea whether this person would be viable or not. If the first term ends up being nondisastrous, no one will be able to dislodge him. If something really goes bad, certainly a possibility, he will likely not run for re-election.

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Who: federal HR employee, female, 41, Kentucky

Voting background before 2016: voted GOP in every previous presidential election

How did you vote in November? Any regrets? I ended up voting for Clinton. I squeezed into my only pantsuit (which was a smidge too small) and marched to the polls with a smile on my face. I do not regret my vote in any way.

How do you feel about Trump so far? What’s pleased/disappointed/enraged you? Trump has, so far, mostly lived down to my expectations. Things haven’t been as dramatically horrible as I imagined, but it is still early days. His opportunities to start World War III/declare martial law/be impeached and replaced with Pence are still hovering out there with plenty of time left on the clock. The thing that pleased me most was the Gorsuch nomination. That was about as rational/normal of a pick as could have been expected for a Republican. I thought that the Democratic anguish over it was mostly political theater. The thing that’s annoyed me the most is actually the president’s supporters more than the president: The bald-face lying and flip-flopping doesn’t even earn a blink. The most crazy-making example was recently with the crocodile tears over Syrian “babies” with no recognition whatsoever that these are THE EXACT SAME BABIES they want to deny asylum to.

Would you like to see a GOP primary challenger in 2020? If so, who? A 2020 challenger for Trump is a pipe dream. Either he will be impeached, he will decline to run (probably some BS about how he’s “accomplished what he set out to do”), or maybe he will have Jared Kushner as his heir apparent (if Jared will be old enough by then) and spend his last few months lobbying to make the presidency a hereditary thing like being queen. In a perfect world, John McCain would magically be 10 years younger and be the Republican nominee, or maybe Jeb! (I still like Jeb!) But I’m too beat down by the system right now to even daydream.

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Who: attorney, male, 34, Illinois

Voting background before 2016: voted GOP in every previous presidential election

How did you vote in November? Any regrets? I voted for Hillary. I don’t regret my vote, but I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

How do you feel about Trump so far? What’s pleased/disappointed/enraged you? Overall, I’m displeased by his presidency, but I don’t think he’s made any fundamental changes. I’m incensed by the nationality portions of the travel plan. I’m upset he bombed Bashar al-Assad, particularly because that’s one area where he promised to be better than Hillary. I’m not surprised Obamacare repeal failed because Trump campaigned on expanded government intervention into health care. I am a big fan of Gorsuch. I’m also relieved that (thus far) he is not weakening freedom of speech or separation of powers and that we have not lifted sanctions on Russia.

Would you like to see a GOP primary challenger in 2020? If so, who? I would like to see a primary challenge now, but that could change over the course of this presidency. Rand Paul would be my top choice, but I would also support Sasse or Susana Martinez. If Justin Amash become a governor or a senator or builds a viable following, I’d be very enthusiastic about him.

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Who: tech worker, male, 41, Ohio

Voting background before 2016: voted GOP in every previous presidential election

How did you vote in November? Any regrets? Trump. And then I went and drank heavily. I still regret that my party nominated Trump and that any other choices were a vote for Clinton. That would have been a vote for the most corrupt presidential candidate ever and her party’s evil identity politics and outrage culture.

How do you feel about Trump so far? What’s pleased/disappointed/enraged you? Pleased: James Mattis. Gorsuch. Nikki Haley. Calling out media for their dishonest, agenda-driven reporting. Willingness to turn up the rhetoric against Syria, Russia, and North Korea. Demoting Steve Bannon.

Disappointed: The American Health Care Act was obviously Trumpified to the point where it wasn’t any better than the Affordable Care Act. When it went down, Trump went after his own party for defying him. He flip-flopped on Syria in five days. He’s insufficiently separating himself from his business interests. He’s keeping Bannon and Kellyanne Conway.

Enraged: The ridiculous tweets, the lies, and especially the wiretap accusation without evidence. (The accusation was so ridiculous that it distracted from the seriousness of the issue. We need to find out what really happened.) Sean Spicer is a buffoon. And the personality worship: Loyalty to principle over loyalty to Trump is viewed as traitorous.

Would you like to see a GOP primary challenger in 2020? If so, who? If Trump is collapsing, yes. But only time will tell. Pence would be fine—he’s too smart to get caught up in any potential corrupt activity, so he may be good. I still like Paul, Rubio, and Kasich.

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Who: stay-at-home parent, female, 39, Virginia

Voting background before 2016: voted GOP in every presidential election

How did you vote in November? Any regrets? After much thought, I chose to vote for Trump. I felt it was better to take a chance on Trump, even though I was not a supporter, than to sit on my hands and vote third-party knowing that would only help Clinton win. I already disagreed with Clinton policywise in every way possible, but the more we learned about her criminal behavior, I just couldn’t stomach the idea of her winning. I have no regrets. Do I wish Trump was a little more polished? Yes. Do I wish someone could control his Twitter impulse? Yes. But all in all, I think he is trying to keep his campaign promises and improve the situation for all Americans.

How do you feel about Trump so far? What’s pleased/disappointed/enraged you? He has shown strength internationally. He has taken some positive steps for the pro-life movement. I’m very happy with his Supreme Court selection. I’m disgusted with the mainstream media’s coverage of him and his efforts, constantly trying to scandalize every move he makes, rather than evaluating him fairly and neutrally.

Would you like to see a GOP primary challenger in 2020? If so, who? Not at this time. I’m still waiting and watching. I like that he’s not beholden to anyone and yet willing to work with the Republicans, conservatives, and reasonable Democrats.

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Who: attorney, female, 40, Virginia

Voting background before 2016: always voted GOP in presidential elections, save for a Libertarian vote in 2000

How did you vote in November? Any regrets? McMullin. Given that my state went for Clinton, I do not regret my vote. If I had lived in a state that I thought was up for grabs on Election Day, I probably would have voted for Hillary instead of third party.

How do you feel about Trump so far? What’s pleased/disappointed/enraged you? I am happy with the appointment of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Most of the rest of what Trump’s done has been a disaster. I am appalled at the treatment of immigrants who are being deported after many years in the country with no criminal record at all or nothing more than a simple traffic stop (including driving without licenses, which they can’t get no matter how much they’d like to in many states). I am terrified by the capricious and aggressive conduct of foreign affairs right now. While I think the administrative state has become overly burdensome, his approach to improving that has been chaotic and poorly prioritized. I am extremely concerned about massive increases to military and law enforcement funding while cutting social services and many other important aspects of the federal budget. I’m glad the ill-conceived ACA replacement failed and just hope it stays that way.

Would you like to see a GOP primary challenger in 2020? If so, who? Yes, please! Maybe Sasse? I’d be open to see who comes forward with a moderate message of keeping the ACA goal of universal health care coverage, immigration reform, a more cautious approach to foreign affairs, and general good and efficient government.

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Who: financial adviser, male, 31, Florida

Voting background before 2016: voted GOP in every previous presidential election

How did you vote in November? Any regrets? HRC. I have no regrets.

How do you feel about Trump so far? What’s pleased/disappointed/enraged you? This presidency so far has been an embarrassment to the country. This man knows nothing about foreign or domestic policy and has no ethos. A silver lining would be reductions in regulation, tax cuts, and generally being more pro-business, although I’m not sure how much of this gets done considering how ineffective Trump is. Gorsuch is also a major win long term, although I hated to see the Senate act like it did. I think the worst part is the fact that someone this incompetent is running the country and, to some degree, the world. When he speaks it seems as though he learned about the topic yesterday and came up with the “solution” at dinner. I honestly think Trump has been surprised to learn certain things about the government that most people know. “Health care is complicated” would be an example.

Would you like to see a GOP primary challenger in 2020? If so, who? I would love to see someone else run. Sasse from Nebraska is my favorite. But this has a zero percent chance of happening. The incumbency is really powerful. Trump has historically bad approval ratings, and betting lines still make him about even money to win re-election.

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Who: retired attorney, male, 75, California

Voting background before 2016: voted GOP since Barry Goldwater, with one break for Ross Perot in 1992

How did you vote in November? Any regrets? I voted for Trump, but California voted for HRC. Not really any regrets given the reality of the choices. No other options.

How do you feel about Trump so far? What’s pleased/disappointed/enraged you? I feel OK about his presidency so far. Maybe a C-plus or B-minus. Positives include Gorsuch and the response to the Syrian gas attack. Also meetings with foreign leaders, especially Xi Jinping of China. I’m disappointed with the failure to repeal/replace (so far) the ACA and other similar legislative fumbles. I’m enraged (that is a little strong, but it’s your question) by the tweets. I say cut off his thumbs.

Would you like to see a GOP primary challenger in 2020? If so, who? At this point I would oppose any effort in the GOP to unseat Trump but would not close the door if future events warrant a change. It is too early to go there now.

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Who: consultant, male, 64, Florida

Voting background before 2016: always voted GOP in previous presidential elections

How did you vote in November? Any regrets? McMullin—there was an extremely unlikely but plausible scenario where he could win if an electoral tie went to the House. I was operating on the certainty of a Hillary victory, meaning she would not need my vote. I could not vote for Trump. Had I known he could win, would I have voted for her? Ugh. Maybe …

How do you feel about Trump so far? What’s pleased/disappointed/enraged you? It’s been chaos. I’m pleased about the Supreme Court pick and the Syria response. I’m disappointed in the ACA replacement failure (which is holding up corporate tax reform). I’m enraged by the seat-of-the-pants (reckless?) management and the communication style—especially regarding foreign policy. Also the tweeting while watching Fox & Friends.

Would you like to see a GOP primary challenger in 2020? If so, who? Yes. Maybe Paul Ryan or Rubio or a player to be named later.

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Who: retired executive, male, 76, New Jersey

Voting background before 2016: always voted GOP in previous presidential elections

How did you vote in November? Any regrets? I voted for Hillary. No regrets except for the outcome.

How do you feel about Trump so far? What’s pleased/disappointed/enraged you? No surprises. The erratic narcissism that defined the campaign has dominated Trump’s presidency thus far, with little hope for change. He doesn’t seem to be guided by either a governing plan or a moral compass.

Would you like to see a GOP primary challenger in 2020? If so, who? I will probably register as an independent now. I will keep an eye on what the GOP does, but if things shape up as in 2016 (i.e., dominated by the extreme right) I won’t go there. They’ve made it very difficult for center-right people like me.

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