WaPo: The Obama Voters Who Decided It Was Time To Make America Great Again

Posted: Nov 17, 2016 3:00 PM

The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel ventured into Kenosha, Wisconsin, speaking with Obama-turned-Trump voters and showing how Clinton’s attacks against Trump simply didn’t resonate at all. Moreover, it delved into the changing dynamics of the area, where motor plants were closed, new houses were built, and where folks lying to get federal welfare benefits have angered the population to the point where they were willing to vote Trump, even those in union households. Moreover, Democratic operatives’ notion that her shift on trade had caught on was a miscalculation. No one really cared. Who would if you felt like you were part of an abandoned segment of the country?

The day after the election, Bob Oldani parked himself at the Common Grounds coffee shop and talked to whoever came by. At 71, he had just cast his first Republican vote for president. “Don’t tell my wife,” he joked, as he told anyone within earshot why he’d backed Donald Trump.

“We need a change in everything, and I hope he can do it,” said Oldani, who’d retired after years as a machinist. “This guy’s a billionaire, so I’m thinking he can say, ‘Hey, let’s just get the job done. I don’t need your money.’ ”

The rebuttals started flying. What about the leaked tax forms that showed Trump’s writing off nearly a billion dollars?

“More power to him. He ain’t in jail, right?”

What about the Access Hollywood tape?

“As far as these rumors with the girls, and all of that — if you do your job, who cares?”

A few miles away, outside a Culver’s near Kenosha’s sprawling and anonymous business park, Joe Schmaling and Oscar Corona were taking a break from their landscaping business. Schmaling, 32, said that work had been steady — “maybe because Obama’s on the way out” — and that Trump, in the words of his campaign, would “drain the swamp” of Washington.

“If we put up with Obama, we can put up with four years of this guy,” said Schmaling. “I’m excited to see him blow the place up. He stands on his own, so he can throw the middle finger up.”


“It was just that ‘Make America Great Again’ turned out to be genius,” said Karen Kempinen, 67, a retired teacher. “That resonated. They didn’t need to think any further than those words.”

In 2012, 21 percent of Wisconsin voters told exit pollsters that they or a family member belonged to a union. They broke for Barack Obama by 33 percentage points.

This year, just as many voters said they were in union households — and Clinton won them by just 10 points. The numbers and the swoon were similar in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.


After work on Wednesday, a retiree named Larry Ancona, 61, bitterly pointed out the rows of homes that stood where there used to be an American Motors plant powering the city’s economy.

“I know people that get $800 a month in food stamps, lied to get that, lied to get the medical benefits. And here we are — we’re paying for it,” he said.

White working class voters loved Trump’s slogan, they liked his economic rhetoric, and he spoke directly to them. There was no mincing words, no politically correct language, just blunt, straight talk—which is highly regarded with these voters. Clinton straight up ignored these voters, with her campaign confident that Obama supporters would turnout in record numbers; they didn’t. Like I said, to make matters worse, it looks as if Team Clinton inadvertently turned out Trump supporters in their models, along with millions of Obama voters who flipped this cycle. There’s also the notion that Democratic social programs have only geared towards the poor, which in the process, then leaves little to assist working and middle class families. Oh, and they’re paying for it. We see this with Obamacare, which also might have been a contributing factor to Clinton’s defeat. Love him or hate him, people saw legitimate change with Trump. The polls had him leading in that category for months. The question was whether enough of those voters, who though Trump was the change candidate, could move into the Trump camp proper. It seemed a few did, or at least enough to put him over the top. Clinton was viewed as a third Obama term, and the quintessential establishment candidate who would say anything to get elected. Voters didn’t trust her, nor did they really like her. Granted, Trump wasn’t much better, though he wasn’t the subject of an FBI investigation during the election either.