New York Times
By Ashley Parker and Maggie Haberman
March 1, 2016
Donald J. Trump won the vote of a 59-year-old cabdriver in the Boston suburbs who said he lost his trucking business after immigrants began delivering cargo for less.
In Loudoun County, Virginia, one of the country’s wealthiest, he won the backing of a newly separated mother and a longtime Democrat who spoke of the possibility of another terrorist attack, saying, “I don’t think we feel safe right now.”
And Mark Harris, a 48-year-old owner of an antiques shop in Canton, Ga., said he did not much care for Mr. Trump’s ego and worried that his impolitic speech could derail American diplomacy.
But Mr. Harris voted for Mr. Trump, too.
“He’s not afraid to get in the trenches and fight for you,” Mr. Harris said. “He’s going to be a bully, and he’s going to tell them what he thinks, and he’s going to push to get it done. He don’t care who he makes mad in the process.”
They delivered him victories in conservative Southern strongholds like Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, as well as Northern states like Massachusetts, where centrist Republicans hold sway. And though he lost to Senator Ted Cruz in Mr. Cruz’s home state, Texas, Mr. Trump prevailed in Virginia, fending off Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.
Early exit polls confirmed his broad support; in Virginia, for example, he was winning not only among lower-income voters, his usual base, but also in other categories including veterans and self-described conservatives and white evangelicals. In Texas, those calling themselves political moderates, the kinds of voters some rivals are counting on, were favoring Mr. Trump as well.
In interviews, Mr. Trump’s supporters did not appear defined by a common ideology. But they had a unifying motivation — a deep-rooted, pervasive sense of anxiety about the state of the country, and an anger and frustration at those they felt were encroaching on their way of life.
Asked what they liked in Mr. Trump, his voters described attributes that his opponents have tried to paint as failings. His fierce and sometimes offensive comments on Mexican and Muslim immigrants, and on waterboarding and killing family members of Islamic State fighters, demonstrate, his voters said, a refreshing willingness to disregard political correctness.
“He’s saying how the people really feel,” said Janet Aguilar, 59, clad in a Red Sox jacket, who voted for Mr. Trump in Everett, Mass. “We’re all afraid to say it.”
Where others see a twice-divorced ladies’ man now married to a much younger model, his fans saw the head of a successful family whose children, as Albert Banda, the cabdriver from Somerville, Mass., put it, are “respectable and decent members of society” who “aren’t running around like Paris Hilton and dragging their bodies through the mud.”
Mr. Trump’s huge ego? Not necessarily a problem. “He doesn’t just want to be a president. He wants to be the greatest president,” said Elizabeth Burns, the Virginia mother, who said she campaigned for Hillary Clinton in 2008. “That works in our favor because he doesn’t want to fail. He sees himself as too big to fail.”
Those supporting him did not always agree with everything he said, or the way he said it, and they were not even convinced that he would be able to follow through on all of his big, brash promises. But they were willing to give him their conditional support, drawn to him by his tough talk and bravado, as well as their own disappointment and even fatalism about the politicians they were used to seeing on the menu.
“This isn’t about whether he’s going to do a better job or not,” said Ken Magno, 69, leaving his polling place in Everett, Mass., Tuesday morning, wearing a red Donald Trump winter hat. “More or less, it’s the statement: Listen, we’re sick and tired of what you people do. And we’re going to put somebody in there — now that it’s our choice, we’re going to put somebody in there that basically you don’t like.”
Some of the voters supporting Mr. Trump openly expressed skepticism, and even discomfort, with some of his assurances, as well as with his talk. Mr. Harris, for instance, said that broken promises would transform the real estate magnate into an ordinary politician.
And John Rupert, 75, a retired mechanical engineer from Mahtomedi, Minn., said he was torn on Mr. Trump’s promise to deport the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. “Oh man, that’s a hard one,” he said. “We have laws, and somehow you have to enforce them. I don’t know.”
But Mr. Rupert — a longtime Democrat who supported Jesse Ventura, the former professional wrestler, for governor — added that he had gradually come to accept Mr. Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigrants.
“At first I felt bad about the Muslim thing, but boy, you go ask Angela Merkel how she feels now with all the trouble they had with Muslim refugees from Syria in Berlin, so he’s not far off,” he said, referring to Germany’s chancellor. “It’s not a prejudice. It’s more of a racial profiling, and quite honestly, I’d be in favor of it.”
Mr. Trump, he added, “just seems to say things that I feel right about.”
One of the least likely Trump voters may have been Fadumo Yusuf, 34, a Muslim woman and Ethiopian immigrant who lives in Minneapolis. When she showed up at a pro-Trump rally on Sunday, she was practically mobbed by supporters who thanked her, and a Trump sticker made its way onto her hijab.
His comments about banning Muslims from entering the country, she said, were “hurtful,” and she also worried about his policies toward immigrants fleeing Central and South America.
But Ms. Yusuf, who earned an accounting degree in 2010 from a community college and has applied for more than 20 accounting jobs without any offers, said she felt “cheated.” She relies on her mother for help with necessities like diapers and car insurance, and thinks Mr. Trump will help small business owners by lowering taxes and allowing them to hire more employees.
“We came here to sacrifice and to a get visa. We are not terrorists,” she said. “I believe he has a heart, so I will overlook that.”
Another Trump supporter, Pam Fisher, 52, a retired flight attendant from Edina, Minn., said she was flying on Sept. 11, 2001, and was deeply shaken by the attacks that day. She said she felt comforted by Mr. Trump’s hard line on national security and immigration, and sounded much like Mr. Trump as she explained why she liked him.
“You’re letting refugees in, after what we’ve been through with 9/11? Are you kidding me? No! No, no, no,” she said. Using an acronym for the Islamic State, she added: “Now we have a bunch of people being killed, we’ve got ISIS cutting people’s heads off.”
Ms. Fisher said she was taken with Mr. Trump’s wife, Melania, even more than the candidate himself. “She’s got it, and it’s putting class back in this country,” Ms. Fisher said. “She walks off the airplane, and it’s like the Kennedys again, only the Republican side. I think they’re a stunning family.”
Ms. Fisher said she had voted Republican in the past, but had never been involved in campaigning. Yet with Mr. Trump, that’s just what she found herself doing, standing at the entrance of his recent rally in the suburbs of Minneapolis.
Handing out Trump stickers to the crowd, Ms. Fisher found herself tearing up as she talked about being unexpectedly drawn to this “huge movement” for the former reality television star. “It’s so out of my character to do something like this,” she said. “I just needed to rise up, and it’s a great feeling.”
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