Saturday, May 5, 2018

Obama Trump Swing Voters

At the New York Times, "They Voted for Obama, Then Went for Trump. Can Democrats Win Them Back?":

RITTMAN, Ohio — In the daily race that is her life, Sharla Baker does not think about politics very much.

She rises early, drives to the gas station to buy coffee, feeds her baby, dresses her two other children, ages 3 and 2, and hustles them all off to day care. By 9:30 a.m. she pulls into a hair salon 45 minutes away, where she is training to be a cosmetologist. She waxes and cuts all day long, making only the money she earns in tips, which on a recent day last month was $8.41.

But Ms. Baker does vote. She picked Barack Obama for president in 2008 and 2012. He seemed sincere and looked like a happy family man. But most important, he was a Democrat. Her great-grandmother, who grew up poor in Pennsylvania, always said that Democrats look out for the poor people.

In 2016, though, she voted for Donald J. Trump. Yes, he was rich and seemed mean on his TV show, “The Apprentice.” But she liked how he talked about jobs and wages and people being left out of the economy.

Now, more than a year later, she is wavering.

“I voted for Trump because I wanted some change going on,” said Ms. Baker, 28. “But then again, maybe he’s going to do the wrong change.”

The swing of Obama voters to Mr. Trump proved a decisive factor in the 2016 presidential election. Of the more than 650 counties that chose Mr. Obama twice, about a third flipped to Mr. Trump. Many were in states critical to Mr. Trump’s win, like Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

John Sides, a political-science professor at George Washington University, has estimated that 9 percent of voters who cast ballots for Mr. Obama ended up voting for Mr. Trump. Among white voters who had never been to college, it was 22 percent.

Now, as the country lurches into another election season — this time the prize is control of Congress — a crucial question for Democrats is whether the party will be able to lure these voters back. Democrats have had some early successes. Wins in Alabama, Pennsylvania and Virginia have given Democrats hope that voters might be souring on Mr. Trump — to the point that the party might flip control of the House and possibly even the Senate. Next week’s primary races in Ohio and West Virginia, both states that went for Mr. Trump in 2016, will also serve as tests of voter enthusiasm for Democrats.

We recently asked people who cast ballots for both Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump to describe how they felt about the president and the Democratic Party ahead of the midterms. In interviews with 38 voters in 14 states across four months, a clear pattern emerged. Voters said they did not like Mr. Trump as a person and did not consider themselves die-hard supporters. Some were even embarrassed by him.

But many were basically satisfied with his policies. The tax bill was mildly positive, they said. Several had a bit of extra money in their paycheck. They liked that he was trying to address illegal immigration. Only a few regretted their vote...