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A Snapshot Of The American Electorate

Vote stickers are seen at a satellite election office at Temple University's Liacouras Center, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Philadelphia. (Matt Slocum/AP)
Vote stickers are seen at a satellite election office at Temple University's Liacouras Center, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Philadelphia. (Matt Slocum/AP)

At 10 a.m. ET on Aug. 27, three strangers — a farmer from Iowa, a car salesman from Florida and a gym owner from Texas — joined On Point for a conversation with one another .... about politics.

All three had voted For Donald Trump in 2016 — but not all three were planning to vote for him again. What followed was a civil conversation between Americans whose opinions about Donald Trump’s presidency differed greatly. But more than that: it was a chance to hear directly from three Americans about their lives, their jobs, and their hopes and dreams for this country.

We at On Point had thought that this might be a one-off episode. But by the end of the hour, we’d decided to commit to hearing from more voters each week until Election Day. Thus began our weekly Wednesday voter roundtable series.

The goal was to host civil political conversations — and to humanize the American electorate. Each week we spent the full hour with just a few guests to give our listeners time to hear each person’s story and perspective.

Over the course of this 10-week series we hosted conversations with military veterans, young voters, newly naturalized citizens, people deeply affected by COVID-19, and residents of Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina and suburban Atlanta.

After 10 conversations with dozens of Americans, what emerged was a (non-comprehensive) snapshot of the American electorate heading into the 2020 presidential election.

Below, we’ve collected their stories, opinions and hopes in one place to share with you.

1. They Voted For Trump In 2016. Will They Do It Again In 2020?

We talk to voters who cast their ballots for Donald Trump in 2016. Four years later, they explain the issues they care about, what they think of the job President Trump has done, and how they’ll vote this time around.

Guests Matt Powell, Tommy Stallings and Cheryl Johnson. (Courtesy)
Guests Matt Powell, Tommy Stallings and Cheryl Johnson. (Courtesy)

The Guest: Cheryl Johnson, farmer

Who She's Voting For

Leaning Trump

What's Behind Her Vote

Donald Trump represents what our country was founded on: capitalism. ... He might be crude and rude sometimes but I do believe that he genuinely has the best of the American dream at heart for everybody in America.

Hopes And Dreams For America

Build the country for everybody. No matter what color, no matter what race you are, for everybody, all Americans. That's what I want. And I do think it can be achieved. And I hope however divided this is, I hope that becomes the goal of everyone.


The Guest: Matt Powell, car salesman

Who He's Voting For

Trump

What's Behind His Vote

The American president should look at the world through the perspective of America. ... The United States president should not look at what's best for other countries when making decisions about the citizens of the United States.

Hopes And Dreams For America

What are the next four years of this country going to look like for me? I hope they're not the continued slow walk to socialism. And that's exactly what a Biden-Harris presidency would give us. It would be an intrusion into our liberties. It would be a higher dependence on federal government. It would be a bigger acquiescence to foreign powers. And it would not be America first.


The Guest: Tommy Stallings, real estate agent

Who He's Voting For

Biden

What's Behind His Vote

There's not enough time in this hour to tell you why I'm not voting for Donald Trump. ... Whether it was the Helsinki news conference, whether it was Charlottesville, whether it was pulling our troops out of Syria, whether it was just his acquiescence to Vladimir Putin and Russia.

Hopes And Dreams For America

John Kelly, Jim Mattis, Rex Tillerson, Gary Cohn, Anthony Scaramucci — think what you want to about them — whether they're financial leaders or military leaders, they know a thing or two about leadership. And they come away from this president up close and they have grave concerns. And that probably weighs more on me than anything about where do I want my country to be in four years.

2. What Democratic Voters Want From Biden

We talk with Democrats. Some are all in on Joe Biden. Others will be holding their noses at the ballot box. What do Democratic voters want for — and from — their candidate?

Guest Rodrigo Gomez-Carlin, his mom and Bernie Sanders. (Courtesy)
Guest Rodrigo Gomez-Carlin, his mom and Bernie Sanders. (Courtesy)

The Guest: Rodrigo Gomez-Carlin, research technician

Who He's Voting For

Biden

What's Behind His Vote

I couldn't be closer to reluctant. ... Yes, Donald Trump is a very scary person and isn't a role model for our children. Yes, Joe Biden is very personable and he does speak to everybody. But my concerns with voting for Joe Biden — and that a lot of people share with me — is his lack of a firm stance for the working class.

Hopes And Dreams For America

My hope for the next four years is that teachers can go to work and leave work and be able to relax in their afternoons. My vision for the next four years are that families can actually see each other and be present for weddings and other personal moments. My vision for the next four years is more comfort, and more peace and more equality for everyone in this country.


The Guest: Melissa Brant, teacher

Who She's Voting For

Biden

What's Behind Her Vote

I am absolutely enthusiastic about voting for Joe Biden and ... am actually doing all that I can do to make sure my family and friends do the same.

Hopes And Dreams For America

My vision is to have a president in office that I'm proud to call my president and one that I'm proud to use as a role model in my classroom for my children.



The Guest: Andrea McCoy, project manager

Who She's Voting For

Biden

What's Behind Her Vote

I am as enthusiastic as you can get. ... I will vote for Joe Biden if it's the last thing I do. We have to get Donald Trump out of office.

Hopes And Dreams For America

I want America to be, just as we say it is, one nation united. I want us to be a united country where we all come together despite our backgrounds, our sexual preferences, our religious beliefs. Where we're all together and we're viewed from the leader of our country as one nation.


3. Where Wisconsin Voters Stand

We talk to Wisconsin voters. What do voters in Wisconsin want from elected officials?

Guest Alexis Arnold. (Alexis Arnold Photography)
Guest Alexis Arnold. (Alexis Arnold Photography)

The Guest: Randy Schmidt, dairy farmer

Who He's Voting For

Trump

What's Behind His Vote

I voted Trump for the last election. And as a dairy farmer and a producer, I will probably still stay with Trump because of the trade policies and other things.

Hopes And Dreams For America

We have to move through this present epidemic. ... So I think we have to focus on: how do we move through this, give people safety, meet their basic needs. ... Keep them fed, keep them sheltered and keep them safe.


The Guest: Cassi Mennenoh, museum manager

Who She's Voting For

Biden

What's Behind Her Vote

[Biden] wasn't initially my ideal candidate. But I think compared to Donald Trump, he just represents more ideals that I can get behind. Especially in terms of racial inequality, the environment, health care.

Hopes And Dreams For America

Having a leader that reflected a greater majority of America — from different backgrounds, different perspectives — I think that would be ideal.



The Guest: Alexis Arnold, gallery owner

Who She's Voting For

Undecided

What's Behind Her Vote

I haven't heard enough policies of what change is really going to happen or what they're going to implement, I guess, especially on Biden's side.

Hopes And Dreams For America

It would just be really nice — and I don't know if I'll get to see this in my lifetime — to see somebody honest in office with good morals, you know what I mean? ... I think we all want a leader that we can look up to — someone we're proud to say, 'Hey, this is our president,' and it's just — that's not happening.

4. What Military Veterans Want In A President

We talk with U.S. military veterans. What qualities are most essential in a commander in chief? What role does — and what role should — the U.S. military play in protecting American democracy?

Michael Logue and 'Veterans for Trump.' (Courtesy Michael Logue)
Michael Logue and 'Veterans for Trump.' (Courtesy Michael Logue)

The Guest: Bob Killebrew, retired colonel

Who He's Voting For

Biden

What's Behind His Vote

The present president has ... destroyed alliances overseas, has not contributed to national solidarity or strength of purpose at all. And so I want a president who comes in with an understanding of what real strategy is, what real defense preparedness is and who looks out not only for the troops but for the circumstances he puts the troops into.

Hopes And Dreams For America

What I want is someone as a president who will restore the dignity of the office. Who won't be a joke to our allies, someone who will rebuild our institutions, respect our constitution, try to bring our country together again, and respect the apolitical nature of the military and ... the men and women who served.


The Guest: Michael Logue, town trustee

Who He's Voting For

Trump

What's Behind His Vote

For commander in chief, you're the top, you're the head of the military there. So you need to ensure that the tools and resources are available for the forces — that regardless when you go to war, you go to war with what you have, not with what you want.

Hopes And Dreams For America

We have to protect the constitution because it puts individual freedom of speech and religion above government. And that is something that threatens the rest of the world. And as Americans, our ideals are under attack.



The Guest: Daniele Anderson, former naval officer

Who She's Voting For

Biden

What's Behind Her Vote

I think that there are two things that I'm looking for in a commander in chief, in a president, one of which is accountability. We don't have anything if we don't have a president who is accountable for their actions.

I'm not naïve to think that I'm going to agree with everything and every policy and decision that a president makes — like any other leader. But they have to be accountable to the office and to the people that put them there or I really fear for our democracy.

And the second thing is a president and a commander in chief who prioritizes human rights — who understands that it's not a political ploy or a partisan issue and understands that no matter what we're talking about — whether it's ICE detainees, whether it's health care, policing, all of these things are really human rights.

Hopes And Dreams For America

My hope is that we have someone who wants to keep the sanctity of our democracy. I think attacking the U.S. postal service, attacking reporters and journalism as a whole, and a lot of the other things that have happened in the last four years have done nothing but sort of erode our democracy. So, I'm looking for a person who is going to be accountable and hold themselves accountable for his or her actions.

5. New U.S. Citizens Share Their Election Plans

We talk with newly naturalized U.S. citizens. How do they feel as they prepare to vote for president for the first time?

Guest Fabiola Landeros. (Rachel Lazar)
Guest Fabiola Landeros. (Rachel Lazar)

The Guest: Ahmed Al-Zubaidi, community organizer

Who He's Voting For

Biden

What's Behind His Vote

I don't like how Trump deals with refugees and other issues. And on the other hand, Biden, he was having a project when he was vice president with Obama to divide Iraq religiously. ... Now, it's very difficult for me to make a balance with whom I need to go. And so, honestly, I believe I will go with Biden.

Hopes And Dreams For America

I feel all the hate in the environment. This is not healthy. And we need to [get] back as a one union country, because now we're divided.


The Guest: Fabiola Landeros, community organizer

Who She's Voting For

Biden

What's Behind Her Vote

I will like to see someone to lead this country with love, because that's one of the values that many people that I work with have. But at the same time, I don't want someone in power that is constantly attacking. And I can say 'personal attack' because I'm a woman, because I'm a worker, because I belong to the LGBTQ community.

Hopes And Dreams For America

For the next four years, we will have someone in power working with my community, with my families, with the Black community, immigrant community, refugee community, that they're going to help us to do the next step. For many of us is to become a legal permanent resident and then citizens. And right now we see that that's not going to happen. We've seen that we don't have value as a human person. So for me, [it's] having someone that have the same values as we have and taking the lead and change.


The Guest: Violeta Cruz Perez, real estate agent

Who She's Voting For

Trump

What's Behind Her Vote

His love for this country is so admirable for me because he's not a politician. And he only left his comfort zone to help his people, his country.

Hopes And Dreams For America

We need a leader. We need a person [that] believes in his country and the people living there.


The Guest: Vadym Ostrovsky, sales manager

Who He's Voting For

Biden

What's Behind His Vote

Get together. Win 2020 for Joe Biden. Start healing all the rifts that came about in the last four years and maybe even longer than that. And then focus on creating a more equitable society where people are not afraid to go to a doctor and don't have to work for a minimum wage.

Hopes And Dreams For America

We're going to survive this period. This is a really very dangerous point that we're at. But I really think people here are amazing and good. And, unfortunately, we just have leadership in the country who inspires the worst in people. And, from my perspective, that will have to go.


6. Politically Divided Family Talks Election 2020

We talk with a politically divided family in suburban Atlanta.

The Feyock family. (Courtesy)
The Feyock family. (Courtesy)

The Guest: Kelly Feyock, works for a nonprofit

Who She's Voting For

Undecided

What's Behind Her Vote

I don't think either party at this point has the collective heart. Or they don't really understand deeply what is going on in the everyday day-to-day functioning of families who've lost their jobs. Because I think if they did, they would have a sense of urgency to get things passed and pushed through quicker.

Hopes And Dreams For America

My hope is that we can see each other as humans. Without looking at color first, without looking at class.


The Guest: Chloe Feyock, recent college grad

Who She's Voting For

Leaning towards Biden

What's Behind Her Vote

I'm probably going to vote for Joe Biden because I am afraid that — maybe my own guilt. But I voted third party in the previous election. And every day you hear, 'Oh, you messed up the election. You swung it in Trump's hands.' And although I disagree, I don't think my single vote changed everything. But I do think it's probably just the smarter thing to do right now.

Hopes And Dreams For America

My hope is for smaller government. Less government intervening in our personal lives, lower taxes, and that we all do respect each other as humans.



The Guest: Paige Feyock, college student

Who She's Voting For

Undecided

What's Behind Her Vote

Right now, my issues lie a lot more with systemic racism that is pertinent in this country. And white supremacy that's being upheld within the highest institutions in this country, and I think that permeates all the way through coronavirus.

Hopes And Dreams For America

I want to see equitable access to health care, the dismantling of white supremacy.


The Guest: Sophia Feyock, recent high school grad

Who She's Voting For

Biden

What's Behind Her Vote

I do feel as if Biden is our only option at this point. ... I would have voted for Bernie ... but since he isn't in the race anymore, it seems to me that Biden is basically our only option right now.

Hopes And Dreams For America

I just want to see some form of change because, frankly, it's getting pretty tiring — just having these conversations. We don't want to keep having them.

7. What Young Voters Want From Their First Ballot

We hear from younger voters, who are casting their ballots for the first time. What are their hopes and dreams for the country they’ll inherit?

Guest Bella D'alacio. (Ritika Iyer)
Guest Bella D'alacio. (Ritika Iyer)

The Guest: Garion Frankel, college student

Who He's Voting For

Trump

What's Behind His Vote

More than anything else, the 1776 project that [President Trump] recently announced is just so important. History and government education in the United States has been consistently failing for 50 to 60 years now. ... If we want to move anywhere as a country, we have to know what this country is, where it came from and how it works.

And I think that fundamental base level of knowledge is just missing from the education system right now. And policies like that are going to be instrumental for making sure that we can still devolve some sort of civil society, some sort of political identity that we can base everything else off of. Because as it stands right now, that foundation just isn't there.

Hopes And Dreams For America

All I want in the next four years is for this country to figure out who we are again so we can move on.


The Guest: Bella D'Alacio, college student

Who She's Voting For

Biden

What's Behind Her Vote

Personally, for me, I think, and also a lot of my friends as well, we have seen the impacts of gun violence. And I think we have seen the impacts of failed immigration policies and climate change policies. And we are seeing how it's affecting us and how we literally need to vote in order to save our life. And I think that it's just really empowering that we're having these conversations together. And we are not only just voting, but we're also organizing, and we're talking about it and we're envisioning our future.

Hopes And Dreams For America

I'm excited to vote for Joe Biden. But I'm also more excited to continue the work that I'm doing with March For Our Lives 'United We Dream' Action PAC because we want to see more progressives in office. We want to see people listening to us about racial, social, economic justice. And I want to see a future without gun violence. Where people are treated with dignity at the border and where climate change isn't a ... crippling reality.


The Guest: Jacob Cuenca, recent high school grad

Who He's Voting For

Biden

What's Behind His Vote

I consider myself a Republican before anything else. But at the same time, too, I'm open minded. I understand right now what the American people need right now is not a Republican in office. We need a Democrat, because historically a Democrat has always been there to help bring back the American people. Get them on their feet, bring them [morale] and stuff like that. And I wish it was someone better. I really do, because I really dislike Biden. He is so hard to like, honestly.

Hopes And Dreams For America

We just need to stand together. And I hope the American economy bounces back. I hope people get their jobs back. I hope the [morale] in this country goes up because everyone is just a mess right now. ... My dad's lost hours and stuff like that. It's terrible.

8. Florida Voters On The 2020 Election

We check in with voters from the sunshine state about the issues that matter to them as they weigh their options before the election.

Guest Mike Richards. (Courtesy)
Guest Mike Richards. (Courtesy)

The Guest: Laura Herbek, college instructor

Who She's Voting For

Biden

What's Behind Her Vote

I really haven't made up my mind at this point. I feel very torn because I don't want my vote for Joe Biden to be interpreted as an endorsement of Joe Biden and the way he came out on top in this primary. However, I also feel like it would be irresponsible of me not to consider casting that vote just to protect the vulnerable people in my life. ... The most important issue for me is Medicare for All. I'm one of millions of uninsured Americans.

Editor's note: We checked back in with Laura to see if she made a decision on who she will vote for. Read her message below.

Update: "I remain tremendously conflicted about it, but I ultimately decided to vote for Joe Biden. While I still don't trust Biden to make the changes working people desperately need, I think his administration would be marginally better for some at-risk groups such as sensitive wildlife populations and DACA recipients. I also worry about unforeseen emergency situations that could arise over the next four years with things like the disastrous COVID response, "Sharpiegate," etc. weighing heavily on me. I don't see Biden as a person with a track record of excellent judgment, but I do have some hope he'll surround himself with reasonably qualified people — scientists and experts."

Hopes And Dreams For America

My hope would just be that we can have leadership that makes all of us feel represented. And someone that we feel we can trust to have our best interests at heart, even if we don't agree with that person all the time. Just to restore trust and leadership.


The Guest: Mike Richards, airline pilot

Who He's Voting For

Trump

What's Behind His Vote

I don't like Trump's presentation. Or his incessant name calling, the chaotic nature of the White House, how it seems like their staffers are departing on a regular basis. I don't like the Twitter or the tweeting that goes on. I think that's pretty unprofessional.

But as of late, knowing that the Senate is possibly due to flip to the Democrat control, I've started to ... think about the mass change that could take place in our country with Democrat-controlled executive, House and Senate. ... Would it be nice if Biden was the president? Yes. But I'd want divided government. I would want the Senate held by the Republicans. So where am I going to vote? I'm going to vote whatever it takes to keep a divided government.

Hopes And Dreams For America

My son plays a multitude of sports. He's 11-years-old and in sixth grade. But I drive him 20 minutes to a football team where he's one of only two white kids. I drive him fifteen minutes to a baseball team where he is the only kid on the team that isn't Hispanic. And I make sure he's interacting with people of all different backgrounds in Florida. And ... obviously, I want my government to promote that. I don't know how it gets there without me doing it.


The Guest: Robin Reshard, creative director

Who She's Voting For

Biden

What's Behind Her Vote

I'm voting for Vice President Biden and Senator Harris. But along that road has been, for me, these reasons why we need to relinquish President Trump of his title, that he has not fulfilled promises that he made to the American people. ... We don't feel united. It hurts me that the world sees us as this reality show, like we are players on this world stage for a reality show and that we're being led by a man who does not have our best interests at heart.

Hopes And Dreams For America

We have not in this country been valuing diversity in people and individuals, in the issues and the ideas. ... We want people to fit into a preconceived box. So either you are Democrat or Republican, you're Black or you're white. You're for or against whatever the issue is. And that if you try to have a conversation to understand, then you're cast aside. And I think that goes to how we value people that we see. People, unfortunately, as pawns.

I want for this country, for us to value people where they are and see that everyone can add to it. And no one, the way we've done these last three years, should be trying — even if it's the president — should be trying to take things away. That's what this country, it feels like, has been doing, has been trying to take things away from people.


9. Voices Of Americans Hit Hard By COVID-19

We hear from people personally affected by COVID-19. How do they feel about President Trump’s response to the pandemic?

Dave Dahlstrom with his wife Cindy. (Courtesy)
Dave Dahlstrom with his wife Cindy. (Courtesy)

The Guest: David Dahlstrom, retired Air Force veteran

Who He's Voting For

Biden

What's Behind His Vote

We need calm in this country. We're really divided. And as a country, we need to come together to get through this type of a problem. ... So you need to have a leader that's going to inspire everyone to work towards some common goals, of which I just don't feel the current president has done as it pertains to COVID.

So I'm going to give Joe Biden a shot to do that. I mean, Joe Biden has been around a long time, so we really know who he is. We know he'll listen to science and things like that. But ultimately, I think it's going to take the American people to get past what  has happened in the last six, seven months. And we're going to just have to start thinking about each other, and that's going to take a leader that's going to unify the country.

Hopes And Dreams For America

Healing and unity. ... Live your life, but do it with kindness and grace towards other people.


The Guest: Denise Carr, art teacher

Who She's Voting For

Biden

What's Behind Her Vote

It's super important to have a leader that has empathy and care for others. Someone who will surround themselves with experts in their field. That we can't get lost in the difference of our own opinions versus science and fact, and someone that will listen to true science and fact and make decisions with the people around them to move us forward and keep us healthy and safe.

Hopes And Dreams For America

I hope that we have healing and unity, that COVID is under control, that people can feel free and equal in all regards.



The Guest: Lupe Harpster, restaurant owner

Who She's Voting For

Trump

What's Behind Her Vote

I did vote for Trump and I will vote for him again. I feel like we need a strong leader. ... Coming from the business world, I also feel like we need somebody who has business sense, which I feel he does.

And I know that some people feel he's a stupid person. And I tell myself: how does a man that is stupid get to where he is? And I don't always agree with the way he communicates, that's for sure. But I feel like he gets the job done.

Hopes And Dreams For America

I hope that we can get this COVID under control and that we can get back to life.

10. What's On The Minds Of North Carolina Voters

Both campaigns agree — the road to the White House runs through the Tar Heel state. In our final voter roundtable, we hear from voters in North Carolina.

Guest Brandon Beavers. (Jake Burns)
Guest Brandon Beavers. (Jake Burns)

The Guest: VonGretchen Pough, regional study coordinator

Who She's Voting For

Biden

What's Behind Her Vote

We certainly need someone with more of a 'we' attitude and not just an 'I' [attitude]. And someone that knows how to exercise compassion, but can be cutthroat if needed, for lack of a better term.

Hopes And Dreams For America

I think that we have to think about the commonality between all of us as Americans. Americans being that you were born here, that you came from somewhere else. I think if you're living in America, you're an American that's bringing value to our country. And it's up to us to continue to find that commonality so we can meet in the middle of the aisle and do what's best for us as a country, so we can move forward and not be stuck one way or the other.



The Guest: Bill Poole, he works in sales

Who He's Voting For

Trump

What's Behind His Vote

I believe in limited government, individual freedom, personal responsibility, free enterprise and adherence to the constitution. Now having laid that out, neither candidate is a perfect fit. But going to the limited government, I do feel like Democrats are a growing government and a government-has-the answers-for-all-things.

And, on Donald Trump's side, he's not a typical politician. I think that's one of the reasons he gets in so much trouble. ... Some people find it refreshing; other people find it appalling. But anyway based on my preferences in what I'd like to see out of government, I certainly think Donald Trump is a better fit for that.

Hopes And Dreams For America

Unfortunately, I believe Washington is so far gone in terms of polarization that it's up to us — it's up to the American people to get rid of the players who're there purely for power and politics. And find representatives that are there to serve the American people. Easier said than done, but it's up to us. Washington's not going to fix itself. We're a democratic Republic and it's up to us to police our government and we've got to start doing it.


The Guest: Brandon Beavers, grad student

Who He's Voting For

Undecided

What's Behind His Vote

The kind of leader I would like to see would reflect compassion, empathy and attempt to adequately address the international pandemic that we'd been hit so hard by. And a president that is not a scripted president, that you can maybe sense that they speak from the heart and that they genuinely care about the populace that they have been elected to serve. There'll never be a perfect candidate, but I fundamentally believe that Donald Trump has devalued the meaning of the executive office of the United States.

Hopes And Dreams For America

My hopes and dreams ... would be for Washington to really step into the middle without fear of pushback from your party. I would like to see — at all levels of Washington — people working together constructively, instead of playing these games that all of us are seeing. It's not an effective Washington, it's not a productive Washington. And we're going to continue to see, I think, a negative trajectory if all members of our political representation aren't trying to find some common ground.


While you're still here: help shape On Point. Have a story to share? A topic that deserves a deep dive? Pitch us your show ideas at onpoint@wbur.org. 

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