Distrust Of Government Drove Many New Hampshire Voters To Trump

Nov 14, 2016
Originally published on November 14, 2016 6:19 pm
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Nearly a week after the presidential election, the Associated Press has now declared Hillary Clinton the winner in New Hampshire. Clinton beat Donald Trump by less than 3,000 votes. This news doesn't change the outcome of the race. Donald Trump is still president-elect.

Exit polls in New Hampshire show that one of the main reasons many people voted for Trump was that they didn't trust the government. NPR's Hansi Lo Wang met some Trump voters in the Granite State.

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Jude Augusta will tell you he has trust issues with the government outside of his town of Hampton Falls, N.H.

JUDE AUGUSTA: The town clerk is usually a pretty good egg around here, but the feds - not at all, zero.

WANG: And that's why he started a Facebook group about a year ago. It's called the New Hampshire Seacoast Rebel-utionaries. Their page describes them as, quote, "defenders of our Constitution and culture."

AUGUSTA: It says, (reading) libertarians, conservatives and still-conflicted Democrats. The reason I wrote still-conflicted is because these same people that voted - my mom, my dad - for JFK voted for Donald J. Trump.

WANG: And so did Augusta. The day after the election, he wore a navy blue Trump flag like a cape on his morning run. Though he admits his political hero is not perfect.

AUGUSTA: He is a flawed individual. None of us would disagree with that. I'd say none of us would probably disagree with he's got a copious amount of flaws. However, his heart's in the right place. We don't think Obama's heart is in the right place.

WANG: Augusta says one of his main fears is a porous U.S.-Mexico border that terrorists can cross. And he doesn't think Obama's policies have been protecting the country.

There's a similar kind of distrust amongst other Trump supporters in New Hampshire, according to Andrew Smith. He's the director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

ANDREW SMITH: There is anger for the inability of the government to deliver on a lot of the promises that were made during the last couple election cycles.

WANG: Smith says the economic recovery has not touched many Trump voters, especially those without college degrees. Still, that's not the whole story. New Hampshire has the country's lowest unemployment rate tied with South Dakota. But its population, which is about 94 percent white, is aging, and the fishing industry along the Seacoast has seen better days.

Smith says Trump supporters have been funneling their frustration through campaign phrases like drain the swamp as anger towards the Democrats in power and Hillary Clinton. And now Smith says expectations for the Trump administration are high.

SMITH: That's the problem that voters are going to have because a phrase that's as nonspecific as drain the swamp can be interpreted in many, many different ways.

(LAUGHTER)

WANG: Here at The Clay Dragon Tattoo Studio in Seabrook, N.H., draining the swamp begins with replacing Obama with Trump.

How long does a Donald Trump tattoo usually take?

BOB HOLMES: Usually about 45 minutes.

WANG: Bob Holmes owns this studio. So far his shops have inked 76 tattoos of Trump's face or campaign slogans on his supporters for free. Holmes is 48 and says he gave his first-ever vote to Trump. He hopes Trump will get rid of Obama's health insurance mandate, cut taxes so he can open up another tattoo shop more easily and start running the federal government like a business.

HOLMES: Yes, when you're a businessman, your word is everything. You do everything you possibly can for your employees, for your business. I know that because I'm the same exact way. So I like the fact that he's more like me.

WANG: And not a career politician like Obama or Clinton whom Holmes says he cannot trust.

HOLMES: I just hate the government thinking that we are just dumb sheep and that we're just going to allow them to keep doing this [expletive]. And our country stood up, voted Donald Trump into office because we're not that stupid.

JAKE FALLAS: I voted for Obama in '08 because I was stupid.

WANG: Jake Fallas is 29 and a member of New Hampshire Seacoast Rebel-utionaries.

FALLAS: But I thought, why not have a black president? Why not have someone different because Bush disappointed me.

WANG: Now Obama's disappointed him with an economy that he's not sure how to start a family in. He says that's why he voted for Trump. But he doesn't expect him to carry out all of his promises. Neither does Laura Soussan. She says she'll be happy if Trump can accomplish just half of his 100-day plan. All Americans, she says, should give him a chance.

LAURA SOUSSAN: Now the shoe's on the other foot. We didn't trust the Obama administration. They don't trust the Trump administration. For every action, there's an equal-opposite reaction. It's a balance. But if anybody can straighten this mess out, it's him.

WANG: And he'll have the next four years to make his case. Hansi Lo Wang, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.