Revisiting The Changing Views Of The Coveted Demographic: Suburban Women Voters
A week before the election NPR's Rachel Martin talked with a group of suburban women from across the political spectrum about the election. This week we went back.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
The Sunday before the election, we took you inside a living room in Mechanicsville, Va., where we had gathered seven women together to talk politics. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had spent a lot of time in their campaigns courting white, suburban women, so we had wanted to take the temperature of a few of those voters. This past week, we went back.
(SOUNDBITE OF KNOCKING ON DOOR)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Hi. Come on in.
MARTIN: Nice to see you.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Good to see you. How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: You as well.
MARTIN: We gathered most of the group together again to talk about Donald Trump's victory. Sonya Arrington lent us her house again, and we crowded into her living room with Janice Igou, Dale Alderman, Anne Marie Price, Angela Cochran and Ashley Hall.
MARTIN: So thank you, ladies, for doing this again. A lot can change in a couple weeks. It's been two weeks exactly since we were gathered in this living room.
The last time I was with this group, I had asked for one word to describe their respective feelings. So I did it again.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #4: Curious.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #5: Optimistic.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #6: I want to be positive.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #7: Torn.
SONYA ARRINGTON: Crestfallen.
ASHLEY HALL: Fired-up.
MARTIN: I asked Ashley what it means to be fired-up in this moment.
HALL: It has sparked a movement in the Democrats that I don't think would have happened otherwise. And I know that I'm going to be more active than I ever would have been if the outcome had been different. And I think I'm also going to be a lot more vocal.
MARTIN: So the other big Hillary supporter in the room was Sonya. Sonya, the one word you used to describe your emotional composition right now is crestfallen. So you're not exactly where Ashley is, are you?
ARRINGTON: (Laughter) No.
MARTIN: You're not fired up quite yet.
ARRINGTON: No. I'm not quite fired up. But I - I'm trying to pick myself up. President Obama said, OK, you get a couple of days to mope and then pick yourself up and move forward. I don't want the country to fail. I'm very concerned that it will. And President Obama also said, you know, give him a chance, and I was - OK, I'll do that. But when he nominated Steve Bannon for his chief counsel - a white supremacist - that makes me panic.
MARTIN: I should just interrupt to say Steve Bannon used to run Breitbart website, which he said had been used as a platform for alt-right, the white supremacist movement.
ARRINGTON: The alt-right. Yeah. And I - oh, it's just so awful.
MARTIN: A lot of the women in the room bristle at Sonya's remark. And stay tuned because it's going to come up again. But I turn to Angela, the undecided conservative in the group.
Angela, you were undecided. You thought you were going to write in a third party candidate. May I ask you who you voted for?
ANGELA COCHRAN: I actually did vote third party and promptly went to my car and cried afterwards.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #8: She texted me, and she said, I'm crying in my car.
COCHRAN: I am in my car, crying. This is the first - this is the first election I've ever shed tears over. I wrestled with a lot of guilt for doing that. And I had to look back and kind of justify to myself, you're OK. You voted your conscience, and it is what it is.
MARTIN: Can I ask, Dale - Donald Trump did lose the popular vote. Do you think he has a mandate to make dramatic changes?
DALE ALDERMAN: Donald Trump definitely has a mandate to do what he needs to do.
MARTIN: Dale tells us that a lot of Trump supporters she knew didn't want to advertise their vote.
ALDERMAN: No one wanted to admit it because we were called all sorts of names by everybody we knew - that we were racist. We were this and that - if we were voting for Trump. And I actually knew tons of well-educated people, including many business owners, who were all voting for Trump. With that being said, I think everybody in this room who voted for Hillary should actually be very much comforted in the fact that I wouldn't have voted - and a lot of people I know who voted for Trump feel that he's going in to Washington - we hope - all of us who voted for Trump - to clean house.
MARTIN: And then Dale brings up the name that is clearly the lightning rod in this conversation.
ALDERMAN: And I want to speak to Steve Bannon. He's not a member of the Klu Klux Klan.
ARRINGTON: Never said he was a member.
MARTIN: As you can hear, Sonya and Dale get into it over Steve Bannon's appointment as White House adviser. They go back and forth, throwing out one accusation after another.
ALDERMAN: And it is - Breitbart is a reliable institution, and I'm not going to listen to that crap.
MARTIN: Sonya is expressing a fear that's taking root in some communities around the country. I asked Janice about that.
MARTIN: Does it concern you at all that there are communities who are feeling threatened by some of the rhetoric Donald Trump has used in the past and are craving from him some kind of bigger statement about how he wants to move forward him and be a president for all communities?
JANICE IGOU: You know, nobody went to the polls and voted out of hatred. I don't - I don't believe anybody did that. But what they did do was, you know, overwhelmingly, they couldn't fathom what a Hillary Clinton presidency would look like. And so I just think it's very unfortunate that there's all this fear. I feel like it's a false fear. And it's just, you know - it's been ramped up, and it's unfounded.
MARTIN: Sonya jumps in.
ARRINGTON: It's not an isolated incident. At the high school up the street, there is the N-word up at Lee Davis, and that is documented. And that has happened since this election. And I just think that Trump does need to step up and say, OK, let's try - enough.
MARTIN: In a "60 Minutes" interview shortly after the election, Donald Trump was asked to disavow the attacks against minorities that were being carried out in his name, which he did. It doesn't seem sufficient for some here. Angela, the conservative who voted for a third party candidate - she voted for Gary Johnson, by the way - says all Trump supporters shouldn't be lumped together.
COCHRAN: People in the Rust Belt are struggling. And I genuinely in my heart feel like when they hear Make America Great Again, they're not thinking, I don't like brown people. I don't like gay people. It's not about hate, and it's not about - and that's why it makes me sad to see all this fear kind of whipped up. I want to find a way to get everybody on board with that. And I don't know how to...
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #10: So what do they want to do? What do they think will happen? Do they want to bring the factories back to their towns? I'm asking. I'm not criticizing. What do they - what do they want.
COCHRAN: I don't know. I can't speak for everyone.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #10: What's the solution?
COCHRAN: I don't know. And that's why I'm not making, you know, seven figures and in the government - because I don't have an answer. But I do think it is a matter of those people feel very - it's...
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #11: They feel disenfranchised, right?
COCHRAN: They do. And this is - this is going to be a really - I hesitate saying this, but those kind of middle America values - I hesitate using that word - or feelings I feel like have become - they're not - they're not in fashion. They're just - they're very - people - I read so...
COCHRAN: I see so many - I see so many postings about people who voted for Trump. I've heard they're illiterate. They're stupid. They're country. They're foolish. They're uneducated. They're poor. And that makes me sad because I'm from there, and I'm not uneducated and foolish. And I know a lot of people who aren't, but they just desperately want somebody to hear them.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #12: To validate them - but do they really think that Donald Trump is going to do that?
COCHRAN: And this was their brick through the window, saying, do you hear us now?
COCHRAN: What was their choice, Sonya?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #13: I think they would have been OK with Bernie, to tell you the truth - I mean, somebody to give them hope. That's what it was about. It was hope. Trump has given the country hope.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #14: False hope, I think.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #13: The majority - whether it's false or not, it's about hope 'cause we're hurting people. That's why I have to believe it'll get better.
MARTIN: Because there's a divide in the country, as there was after Barack Obama was elected with Republicans who didn't want that to happen - but there is a deep divide - do you each feel a personal sense of responsibility to understand people who hold different views than you do?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #15: Yes, absolutely - a thousand percent - emphatically yes.
MARTIN: Have do you always, or do you feel it anew in this moment?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #15: I felt it after I got out of southern Illinois. And that was just because growing up, everybody looked like me, and I didn't understand that there was another side. And once I got to actually see more of the world and realize it was there, absolutely yes. Just try to walk a mile, you know? And if you come out the other side and think that - no, absolutely not - that's crazy - OK, but you tried.
MARTIN: Janice, do you feel a responsibility to reach out to others.
IGOU: Well, I was thinking, you know, before we got together today, it's like I want to be positive. I just want to be positive. I don't want to do all of this, you know - I'm going to be over here, and you're going to be over there. So I do think that that's important. I don't know how to run in different kind of circles, though. You know, it is interesting how we tend to hang around with people that do all, you know, kind of think the way that we do. So I have to think about how it takes work - how I can do that. But - and it takes a lot of work, too, to speak the truth in a loving way. It really does. It's so much easier to just throw out that nasty comment, instead of trying to bring people together.
MARTIN: Thank you, everyone.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #16: Thank you, Sonya.
MARTIN: This conversation was emotional, and it was tense - more than the one we had had before the election. But when it was all over, the women here still hugged each other. Some of them suggested getting together again without microphones. Sonya handed everyone some homemade chocolate chip cookies. And they all left saying the same thing about President-elect Donald Trump - we'll just have to wait and see.