Buried in a National Journal story about the importance of “non-voters, a group that, in American politics, is usually either ignored or scorned,” is anecdotal evidence that Donald Trump may galvanize voters who sit out elections because they can’t stand traditional politicians from both sides of the political aisle.
Writer T.A. Frank travelled along Florida’s I-4 corridor looking for and interviewing these so-called non-voters. On a trip to a local Hooters, he spoke to a “middle-aged white man in a baseball cap nursing a beer” who was a Gulf War veteran. He used to work in the construction industry but could not find work after employers started to hire illegal immigrants at half the price.
Frank wrote that the man at the Hooters “often grimaced when he spoke, and it took me a moment to realize it was nothing personal. His name was Jerry Shauberger, and he was a non-voter who felt politicians ‘talk a lot of shit.’ He’d been in the service for 20 years, including a stint in the first Gulf War, and he felt president after president had let down the military. In the 1990s, he’d worked in construction, but he eventually stopped being able to get jobs, because employers were hiring unauthorized workers and paying them half the price. Now he was on disability, just over $700 a month, going on five years, after becoming partially paralyzed on his left side.”
According to Frank, “the only candidate he felt talked any sense was Donald Trump, ‘who doesn’t walk around the issues, says what’s on his mind.’ He said a Trump nomination would make him consider a trip to the voting booth.”
Frank found Marine Corps veteran Bobby Beote at the other end of the bar. According to Frank, Beote “also served in the Gulf War, which had left him with severe stomach problems and other ailments—related to what is now known as Gulf War Syndrome—ever since. He had a full-time job at a recycling company, and he was receiving disability from the federal government for his war-related illness.” He told National Journal that while “he kind of liked Trump, he didn’t see himself voting.” He reportedly “offered an informed take on the news” and declared that government was “crooked from the bottom up.”
Trump’s ability to bring in new voters who do not vote regularly in elections will be critical to his success in the GOP primary and a potential general election against Hillary Clinton. And many of these voters support Trump on illegal immigration and Islamic terrorism.
During a September campaign event in Oklahoma, Trump, as Breitbart News reported, told the audience that “millions and millions of people stayed home because they were not energized” by Mitt Romney in 2012 and “if the people that are here tonight are energized, you’re going to win.”
“If the people were energized in the last election Romney would have won but they weren’t,” Trump said. “They’re energized now.”
The Public Religion Research Institute’s American Values survey found that “nearly seven in ten (69%) Trump supporters say that immigration is a critical issue to them personally. In contrast, only half (50%) of those who support other Republican candidates say that the issue of immigration is critically important to them.” In addition, the survey also found that “more than six in ten (63 percent) white working-class Americans say they feel bothered when they come into contact with immigrants who do not speak English, compared to 43 percent of white college-educated Americans.” In addition, the survey found that “in the political arena, none are more concerned about immigration than supporters of Donald Trump, 73 percent of whom say they are bothered by encounters with immigrants who speak little English.”
A Bloomberg Politics poll taken this week found that a majority of Republican primary voters agree with Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration and more than a third said they were more likely to vote for Trump because of it.