Former Trump Supporters Tell Us Why He’s Lost Them

“The last few months have clearly shown just how dangerous he is." Interviews with former Trump supporters bolster data that indicates his base is waning.
Donald Trump attends a campaign rally, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, in Council Bluffs, Iowa. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Donald Trump attends a campaign rally, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, in Council Bluffs, Iowa. (AP Photo/John Locher)

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Polling has shown that Trump is losing voters, and particularly those aged 65+, to Joe Biden by wide margins after winning them in 2016. Why are voters abandoning Trump? Here, we compare the polling numbers by age group then and now, and share interviews with three former Trump supporters.

Trump’s Poll Numbers: Then And Now

Then: In 2016, Trump found his base of voters aged 65 and older – trumping (pun intended) Hillary Clinton by 13 points.

Still, if we recall the general election surprise, the polls had calculated it anywhere from 70 to 99% likely that Clinton would win. The Pew Research Center supposed that many of the people who ended up voting for Trump were less likely to respond to polls, or simply lied, as they weren’t sure how their support would be interpreted by others.

Now: “Rough polling stretch.”

Fox News is asking if Trump could drop out of the race.

Microsoft News finds shaky support for Trump.

The New York Times found some of Trump’s base is turning against him.

Trump’s support is slipping among key demographics he won in 2016, including non-college-educated whites, evangelical whites, and older voters.

As summarized by FiveThirtyEight, the victory margin Trump enjoyed in 2016 has fallen by more than 5 points among voters aged 45 to 64 and 50 to 64. Among voters aged 55 and over in general, by more than 10 points.

And those aged over 65? By 14.3. That’s his hardest base hit, but it’s not the only one.

In 2016, Trump defeated Hillary mostly with voters aged 40-49, 50-64, and 65+, as seen below in exit polls. The support grew (although not steadily) with age:

Source: <a href="https://www.statista.com" rel="nofollow">Statista</a>

Source: Statista

A June 22-24 study by NPR/PBS shows that 36% of voters under 45 and 50% of voters over 45 would vote for Trump. That’s a sweeping win for Biden in the younger group, yet a loss by four percentage points in the older group.

However, if you break up that over 45 bracket, you find that Biden leading in all age groups besides the Boomers: 44% of Gen X voters (40-55), 51% of Baby Boomers (56-74), and 45% of the Silent Generation (over 74) would vote for Trump.

This has the country wondering about the new subgroup of ex-Trumpers: What are the factors that bring them into existence? Was it his handling of coronavirus? Blunt displays of racism regarding BLM? Was it his authoritarianism? Public shaming? And how much does it have to do with 2020 opponent – that is, skepticism towards Clinton and older voters’ affinity towards Biden?

We can keep asking. In the meantime, here are three full interviews with self-declared ex-Trumpers – all white men aged 46 (Gen X), 54 (Gen X/Baby Boomer), and 39 (Gen Z/Gen X), respectively.

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Former Trump Supporter Interviews

These three interviews were solicited via Twitter, after messaging older adults who appeared on @Trump_Regrets. Curiously, the account was created in November 2016.

Former Trump supporter David Weissman (age 39), author of “I Used To Be A Trump Troll — Until Sarah Silverman Engaged With Me,” said:

“Basically I learned that conservative media has lied about liberal values and Democratic values which changed my world view because I saw the real problems that America faces. Eventually, I learned the real Trump was not the Trump I thought I voted for. As a veteran it pained me to learn he was a draft dodger, the way he treats veterans, I believed he cared about military and vets but that was all a lie. He wasn’t always a successful businessman and he was very corrupt. I knew he wasn’t perfect but I learned he is much worse than that. His meeting with Putin in Helsinki told me I made the right choice to stop supporting him and not look back”

Mark G. (age 46), from Pennsylvania, said:

“I’m hoping people like me, especially Independents, can see that the best choice for our nation is Biden. I also want Biden supporters to feel hope knowing people like me have seen through Trump, his lies, and his circus. I want them to know they have allies.

Part of the reason I voted for Trump in 2016 was because I hate the games the Republicans and Democrats can play with proposed bills and legislation…blind voting to be party-loyal, corrupt earmarks, and too much influence of special interest groups that thwart positive actions and changes needed. I watch C-SPAN sometimes. Trump vowed to clean up the mess in Washington and not play those games. He’s added to the mess and plays games like a hyperactive toddler who is addicted to Twitter worse than an adolescent boy hooked on Fortnite.

He’s been a huge mistake and so concerned about appealing to his fan club and being reelected that 99% of his motivation and actions seem to center around that, as opposed to doing what’s best for our country. Trump is reckless, divisive, and so arrogant and negative. He attacks and threatens when criticized. People talk about how he improved the economy, but the over preoccupation with money in our country has been toxic and counterproductive. He fails to speak up for persecuted minorities, has no compassion or empathy, and is incompetent. Trump’s Cabinet- the endless revolving door speaks volumes to his failure.

I voted for him in 2016 partly because I thought Pence and other veteran politicians would help keep Trump in check…the opposite has happened. They swoon and bend like they worship the President and fail to hold him accountable when it is definitely needed. It’s pathetic. I regret voting for such a terrible person and
President. I did not vote for Hillary, because I did not agree with a few things she did or failed to do in her role in Obama’s administration and she seemed like a mean person to me. I determined I need to do a better job with researching people I vote for, as she would’ve been a much better President than what resides in the White House currently.”

Tom G. (age 54), from Ohio, said:

“I’ve voted Republican in national elections since the first Bush. I lean conservative on several issues, more liberal on others. But SCOTUS is a big deal for me-probably having to do with being a lawyer and my thoughts on the history of the court and constitutional law. Which is why I usually vote for Republican presidential candidates.

Even so, I originally planned to sit out the last election, after Trump’s ‘grab them by the pussy’ comment. But I eventually decided that was lame, so I held my nose and voted for him. I mean, how much harm could he really do?

I admit now, there were plenty of people pointing out, before the election, many of his character defects that have proven out to be true. At the time, however, I truly thought the criticisms were just the new political norm, just as I saw the right go after Obama unfairly, I thought the left was now doing the same to Trump.

While I still think that was partly the case, I can now see he’s actually MORE of a textbook sociopath than I ever could have believed possible.

The last few months have clearly shown just how dangerous he is.

Put aside the hard stuff that every President faces, (and none of them perform perfectly on.) We don’t even need to evaluate Trump’s performance on the hard stuff – just his stupidity, arrogance, hubris, narcissism – whatever you want to call it, in refusing to wear a mask, signaling to the country that it’s not important, having a rally where no one is masked – it’s just a complete failure to lead.

It’s a blown layup.

There’s no freaking reason for it. It’s like he’s intentionally trying to piss-off half the country.

Which, makes complete sense for a sociopath. He’s a splitter. And he’s the worst kind, because he knows he’s doing it.

And of course, the icing on the cake, the way he has handled the country’s reaction to George Floyd.

Again-splitting, gaslighting. Instead of trying to calm the waters, he intentionally and repeatedly flames the fires, little dog whistles to the extreme right.

Finally, he conducts himself with zero class, he talks and sounds like an idiot. He’s mean and rude and treats people like crap. He’s the worst kind of bully. He’s a horrible representative of this country to the rest of the world.
It’s all disgusting. Even his mouth-breathing pisses me off.

It’s funny (not really), because I had fundamental disagreements with many of the policies of Obama, (and some of Clinton’s for that matter) but it is so clear to me that those two men would’ve been perfect leaders for this country these last couple years.

So that’s probably a lot more than you wanted, and let’s not get started on the Trump apologists in the media and the GOP-those people have exposed themselves as self-serving hypocrites.

I will finally say I’ve got 4 daughters, and I’ve already told them months ago that they were right, and I was wrong about Trump, and I do worry about the country recovering if he is not re-elected (because the extreme right, I think, will get violent) and I’m seriously scared about what will happen to us if he gets 4 more years.”because he continually blows the lay-ups.

Just simple shit like wearing masks right now.

People can argue over how he handled the early part of the epidemic and getting to the truth of that is hard because I don’t care what anyone says, China cannot be trusted to tell the world the truth about what happened, and when.

(And before that, it’s clear to me that Trump messed up the NIH and CDC in the years leading up to this, but put that aside for the moment.)

So, why are older voters leaving Trump?

Anecdotally, it seems to be a mixture of Trump’s character flaws and his handling of crises leading to apathy trumped by fury at “presidential” idiocracy, and new conversations making way for new opinions – even between a reactionary “Trump Troll” and comedian Sarah Silverman.

Power to the Sarahs (shameless plug). And also to everyone who’s having these open-minded conversations.

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Interview // 2016 / 2020 / Donald Trump / Elections / Trump Supporters