Trump won the 2016 election with 304 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton’s 227, despite losing the popular vote by about two percentage points, The New York Times reported at the time. Now, however, Trump’s presumptive opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, has a commanding lead in the polls, indicating that at least some Americans who supported Trump in 2016 have changed their minds.
Judith Goines, 53, of North Carolina, said that she supported Trump in 2016 and described herself as a staunch Republican. She said she supported Trump specifically because he wasn’t a politician. However, now she said she sees him as an “appalling human being.” She stated his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his propensity for saying exactly what’s on his mind have turned her from him.
“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. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve voted for him,” she continued.
John Crilly, 55, of Pennsylvania, also pointed to the coronavirus pandemic.
“What changed my mind? 120,000 deaths,” he said. “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,” he said.
Crilly, however, was not willing to hitch his wagon to Joe Biden, whom he said was too old. He’ll likely vote for a write-in candidate.
Ariel Oakley, 29, of Michigan, also said Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic changed her mind. Unlike Crilly, however, she said she plans to vote for Biden.
“I have family who have unfortunately passed away from [COVID-19],” she said.
Kelvin Pittman II, 34, of Florida, pointed not to the coronavirus, but to the national unrest that has happened in the wake of George Floyd’s death — and Trump’s response — as to why he won’t vote for the sitting president. Pittman, who is Black, said he supported Trump in 2016 because of his business acumen. But now he stated he can’t get behind Trump.
“It was kind of the last straw. It was like, this dude is just in it for himself,” he added.
Whether or not Republicans jumping ship from Trump will make a difference in the 2020 election remains to be seen. Indeed, Trump’s base is known for its fervent and unwavering support of the 45th president.
However, Trump has made little to no effort to appeal to voters outside of his base. As such, any amount of defectors, particularly in swing states, could spell doom for his re-election chances, The New York Times noted.