election special 2016

9 Women on Why They’re (Still) Voting for Trump

Jane Biddick, Nicole Martin, Merchon Andersen Photo: Benedict Evans

Last winter, in the weeks leading up to what would be a very long presidential-­primary season, New York went to Iowa and New Hampshire to interview Republicans about their outlooks on the election. They opened up about their hopes—but especially about their fears. The biggest theme was a sense that the country was under siege, by threats both domestic and ­foreign, and needed the guidance of a tenacious leader.

At that time, there were 12 GOP candidates, and Ted Cruz was gaining momentum. The libertarians in New Hampshire favored Rand Paul; a lot of Evangelicals in Iowa wanted Ben Carson. Trump, who had just called for “a total and complete shutdown” of immigration by Muslims, was the most popular candidate in our sample of 100 voters, but also the most divisive.

Of course, this was months before 2005 audio surfaced of Trump talking about grabbing women’s private parts and before women began coming forward with their own stories of being assaulted or harassed by the candidate. With those revelations in mind, we were interested to know how Trump’s support had changed among women voters, particularly those who are generally loyal Republicans. So we reached out to ten of the women we’d spoken with to see how they were planning to vote. In our by-no-means-scientific survey, almost everyone we contacted had doubled down on their support of Trump; just one woman had decided to cross party lines. Their distrust of Hillary Clinton proved to be the greatest ­unifier. “Frankly,” Debbie Eberly, a pastor from Iowa, said when asked about Clinton, “I would rather be in a room with Trump alone any day of the week.”

Tina Vondran
Then: Carson | Now: Trump

My faith will not allow me to vote for a candidate who believes abortion is right. I would love to see a woman president. Get Condoleezza Rice in there. I’m telling you what, if she ran, I would campaign for her. But Hillary and I don’t share the same values. I think we are all called to be good neighbors. But I do not believe the government has a right to tell me what I have to give to somebody else out of my own pocket. What ever happened to self-pride? If things get tough, maybe you get another little part-time job. Maybe you go to your boss and say, “Hey, listen, things are hard. Can I work some overtime? What can I do?”

Jane Biddick
Then: Trump | Now: Trump

I haven’t even gotten on to see exactly what Trump said, because I think that’s stupid. Unless you want to write Jesus Christ in as your vote, you might as well forget it. There isn’t any perfect person on the planet. I heard that he said something about groping women, and I’m thinking, Okay, No. 1, I think that’d be great. I like getting groped! I’m heterosexual. I’m a woman, and when a guy gropes me, I get groping on them! I grope them back. Groping is a healthy thing to do. When you’re heterosexual, you grope, okay? It’s a good thing. Try it. I wonder if Nixon groped Pat. Since December, I’ve done very little reading. I’ve heard little snippets here and there on the radio, and I don’t watch TV. I’m just going on what I have at the gut. If Trump really did something that made me feel like he was compromising what I thought was good for the country, I’d get right on and I’d start reading. But all I hear is people are saying he likes to grope women. I’m sorry, that just hasn’t given me any doubt about my vote.

Valerie Still
Then: Trump | Now: Trump

If women grabbed men like that, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But if men do that to women, they blow it out of proportion. It might be true, but it might not, because I think Hillary is crooked enough to pay women to talk badly about Trump. I don’t understand how she can say she respects women when she doesn’t respect herself. Take the Bill Clinton thing. If your husband is doing something to you, and you don’t have enough respect for yourself to get out of that situation, how can you expect other women to go forward and talk about the issues they supposedly had with Trump? Because she’s a woman, other people expect women to be for her. I don’t think gender is that big of a deal. It’s all about what they can do for the country. And she called us deplorable. I know she apologized for that, but if Trump apologizes for something that he says, he’s not forgiven.

Debbie Eberly, Allison Doyle, Valerie Still Photo: Benedict Evans

Allison Doyle
Then: Trump | Now: Trump

I haven’t listened to the recording of what he said in 2005, because I feel like it’s so irrelevant. It was 11 years ago. We’re not voting for someone based on their character. We’re way past that in this election. I think it’s a disgrace to have Clinton as our first woman president. She does not represent women at all — or me, as a woman, at all. I’m sorry. Her husband is such scum. I’ve never heard about Trump cheating. I know he’s had multiple marriages — which, in today’s society, who doesn’t?

Cindy Corson
Then: Fiorina | Now: Trump

I have not been a Trump fan in any form. I was a Carly supporter from day one and was very disappointed that it just wasn’t meant to be. It’s been a struggle to decide what to do, but I feel strongly that the Republicans need to be in office. We need to keep control in the House and the Senate. And the other big thing is the appointment of a Supreme Court justice. So I will follow the party line. I don’t want to say it’s a resignation, but nearly. A lot of it is his manner. I agree with speaking the truth, speaking your mind, but the way he goes about it, the crudeness — I don’t really want that in a president. I do blame the press, especially the broadcast news media, for a lot. I’m of the era of the Vietnam War. That’s when it started: every night when they broadcast how many died. There are times when you know too much — too many details. I don’t think that’s good for anyone. I feel like that has a lot to do with this business of the last [few weeks]. If these allegations are true with these women, I’m very sorry for that, but I can’t justify swimming in that pool when we need to move along. We should have candidates of character, but I think it’s already established that neither one has a sterling character.

Merchon Andersen
Then: Trump | Now: Trump

We have become so wussified. Pretty soon, saying hello to someone is going to be considered harassment. I have a few friends who just want to believe whatever the liberal news media tells them. They don’t want to get information on their own. That’s how I decided on Trump. I saw him in person and I was blown away. He’s a businessman, and I think that’s what this country needs: someone to figure out what we’re going to do with our economy, because it’s tanking. Our medical system is making it virtually impossible for any of us. My son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law, they can’t afford health insurance for themselves and their three kids. My parents are wondering how they’re going to not have to sell their home in order to have health insurance to pay for their medications. I just really wish the dirty politics would stop, so we could get it narrowed down to what matters. What are we going to do about all this brutality upon law enforcement that is going on? What are we going to do about our military that was supposed to have been brought home a long time ago? When are we going to become Switzerland and just tend to our own affairs—instead of always getting involved in stuff that’s been going on for centuries, that’s never going to get resolved? We’re not taking care of what’s happening in our own house. That’s my biggest concern.

Tina Vondran, Cindy Corson, Barbara Nicholson Photo: Benedict Evans

Nicole Martin
Then: Trump | Now: Trump

I knew when I voted for him that he came from Hollywood. We wanted something different. We didn’t want the same stuffy guy. Those people aren’t reaching the working class. It’s really ironic that someone as rich as him reaches out to the working class, but he does. You can look at a lot of people born into money who blew it away on drugs and partying, but he turned it into an empire. The working class relates to that. I honestly don’t trust Hillary Clinton. I just feel like she’s a liar. If I took her face out of the picture, I could say I love that we live in a country where a woman can reach that. Can I say I ever felt that with her? No.

Barbara Nicholson
Then: Carson | Now: Trump

I’ve already voted for Trump. I support him because he’s the only Republican running for president. I don’t want to vote for Hillary, okay? I would not vote for a Democrat because of their platform, and especially I wouldn’t vote for Hillary. It’s especially the issue of abortion. I am a total pro-life person. Trump is not as well informed or well educated as he should be on the issue, but I have a feeling that he will have advisers that will help him so that he understands it better. I think he could do a good job if he gets the right people in his Cabinet. He could be fine.

Debbie Eberly
Then: Trump | Now: Trump

I settled on Trump at the beginning of the primary. I felt he was taking on the Establishment, which has grown very corrupt. I didn’t have a problem with the Birther issue. Frankly, I was proud that he did that. And I’m not going to look at something he said 11 years ago. Otherwise, they’d have to look at their own locker-room talk, and really, there’s a finger pointing back at themselves. We’ve taken quite a bit of time to pray for him. We believe that Trump has made some recent changes, growing stronger in his own Christian beliefs and putting Christian people around him. As a woman advocate, I still have no sympathy for Hillary Clinton. I’m sure if a woman were a godly person, I could be proud of that. But I would never be proud of Hillary. Unless she totally recanted, repented — and frankly, if she did that, she would reveal what’s she’s done, and she’d be in prison. She has a very dark side. I think Trump put it in good words, I just recently read, about a dark soul.

Claira Monier
Then: Kasich | Now: Clinton

What if I told you I am voting for the first Democrat I’ve ever voted for for president? I was vacillating back and forth. Do I vote for Gary Johnson? Do I write in Mike Pence? I probably made up my mind when that tape was released of his conversation with Billy Bush on the bus. When I heard that, I said, “No way. Hillary.” Then the [second] debate confirmed it. His misogyny was not an issue for me in the beginning — it was more his lack of substance. But the first time I thought about it was when he went after
Carly Fiorina—when he said, “Look at her ugly face,” or something like that. And she’s smarter than he is. I remember the old days, when women were treated so badly. I won’t go into the details of how many times I’ve been assaulted, but it came out of the ’40s and ’50s. I just remember, as a 16-year-old, I had a job in the mill yard. All the guys would holler and whistle at you as you walked to work. You really felt assaulted. That was considered okay.

It’s not only how he treats women, but also the way he treated the Khan family. Muslims. Or the way he talks about blacks. The way he talks about Mexicans. It’s a culture of hatred rather than love or inclusion. You almost feel like taking down the Statue of Liberty, listening to him, because we are a country that wants immigrants. We need immigrants. If you’re going to have people support us older folks and even support yourselves as you age, immigration is absolutely necessary for the survival of our economy. Trump’s issues are not Republican issues. Republicans are pro-immigration. Republicans are pro–free trade. Trump doesn’t stand for these things.

*This article appears in the October 31, 2016, issue of New York Magazine.

9 Women on Why They’re (Still) Voting for Trump