New Hampshire Voters Unsure Of Support For Trump | New Hampshire Public Radio

New Hampshire Voters Unsure Of Support For Trump

Originally published on July 20, 2020 4:02 pm

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

New Hampshire's voters tend to be older and whiter than most other states. Still, four years ago, President Trump narrowly lost New Hampshire to his challenger, Hillary Clinton, despite clinching the Republican primary there. And while he's eyeing a win there this time around, too, the president's handling of this pandemic and racial injustice has some Republican voters reconsidering their support. New Hampshire Public Radio's Josh Rogers has this report.

JOSH ROGERS, BYLINE: New Hampshire gave Trump his first win in the 2016 Republican primary. And 71-year-old local GOP activist Nancy Kindler says she's backing Trump all the way, including on issues where the president may be his most divisive, like racial equity.

NANCY KINDLER: I was brought up to believe there's good and bad in every race, creed and color. And Donald Trump is taking a stand for all of us who believe that way. And I like the fact that he's not afraid to speak his mind.

ROGERS: To hear Kindler tell it, division over how to address racial injustice is helping Trump. And the more intense that gets, she says, the better.

KINDLER: The more they do - and I say they - the more people do to destroy statues, burn flags - the more they do of that kind of stuff, the more people come to our side. I can't tell you how many Democrats have come - personally - have come over, become Republicans. I know personally a half a dozen.

ROGERS: Racial politics in a state that's growing more diverse but still 90% white is unfamiliar terrain. For down-ballot Republicans, sometimes, that shows.

BILL GANNON: Sure. George Washington was a slave owner. You and I - if we had grown up in a certain family, would've been slave owners, too. But we've come a long way. And I think now we have a great country.

ROGERS: This is Bill Gannon, a former state senator hoping to win reelection this year. In 2016, the right-leaning voters of his district gave Gannon an easy win. But two years later, he was voted out.

GANNON: I lost. Trump galvanized the Democrats. And that hurt me. I think this time, my side is also galvanized.

ROGERS: The Trump campaign and Republicans are betting New Hampshire's older and whiter electorate will stay with the president. But some have already bolted.

SHIRLEY SPENCER: I think he's a jerk with a capital J.

GANNON: Eighty-five-year-old Shirley Spencer loaded groceries into her car outside a market basket. She says she regrets voting for Trump in 2016.

SPENCER: I did because he was a businessman. And I thought, you know, maybe a businessman - he's not a politician. We might have some help for the country. He's done nothing but hurt us.

ROGERS: Nearby, elementary school counselor Karin Allard was emptying her own grocery cart. The registered independent shook her head when I asked her to assess Trump's performance as president and says, this year, she's out to send a message to Trump and to Republicans in general.

KARIN ALLARD: Mostly, as a party, they have dismantled their values, I think, to stay with their guy. So Democrats, straight ticket - first time ever in my life - that's it - straight ticket.

ROGERS: Not quite straight ticket - Allard says she plans to vote for Republican Governor Chris Sununu because she likes how he's handling the coronavirus pandemic. For NPR News, I'm Josh Rogers in Concord, N.H.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.