Thursday, January 12, 2017

Despite recent controversies, support for Trump among rural Iowans who shifted red remains high

2016 county presidential election
results in Iowa (Wikipedia maps)
Recent controversies surrounding President-elect Donald Trump have done little to quell his popularity in rural eastern Iowa, "the epicenter of the political quake that made Trump president," Trip Gabriel reports for The New York Times. Gabriel, who spent a year living in Iowa leading up to the caucuses in early 2016, recently returned to see if public opinion about Trump had changed in a state that President Obama won in 2012, but that Trump won handily in 2016. More than 30 Iowa counties swung from Obama to Trump.

2012 presidential election results
"Al Ameling, 58, a technical analyst who lives in Marble Rock, near the Minnesota border, is representative of the profound demographic shift among white rural voters in the northern Midwest that helped produce Trump’s stunning upset," Gabriel writes. "Ameling voted for Obama in 2008, sat out in 2012 and enthusiastically backed Trump. Nothing he has heard since Election Day has shaken his support, including reports this week that American intelligence agencies are investigating unverified accounts of meetings between Trump aides and Russian officials, as well as salacious activity by Trump in Moscow. On Wednesday, Trump called the allegations completely false."

Ameling told Gabriel, "The way it is nowadays, unless I see positive proof, it’s all a lie. I don’t know if it was classified, but if it was, whoever leaked it needs to go to jail. We need law and order back in this country.”

Gabriel writes, "The Iowans I interviewed largely went about their lives outside the political hothouse social media. They did not follow hour-by-hour developments of the presidential transition. Indeed, on Wednesday, several were unfamiliar with the reports that Russia was holding compromising information on the president-elect, which Trump addressed in a news conference. Many were hazy on specific policy details about how, say, House Republicans were seeking to replace Medicare with a voucher system. These voters feared an outbreak of European-style terrorist attacks by Muslims in the U.S., maybe in their own communities. And overwhelmingly, Trump supporters did not want their hard-earned money redistributed to people they regarded as undeserving."

Mike Staudt, a retired farmer from Marble Rock who voted for Obama in 2012 but supported Trump in 2016, called the Affordable Care Act a form of socialism, Gabriel writes. Staudt told him, “I know these guys are really rich. They may have pulled off a few plays that weren’t exactly on the up-and-up, but they all had to be pretty smart to be billionaires. If they replace their own concerns with the concerns of the country, they can make things really move forward. That’s what I’m excited about.” (Read more)

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