We talked to some Kamala voters but not Joe. This is what they said. | ET REALITY


In our recent survey of voters in battleground states, we asked how people would vote if Kamala Harris ran for president. Although Donald J. Trump was still leading in this hypothetical matchup, Vice President Harris performed slightly better than President Biden.

He did particularly well among young and nonwhite voters, voters who were key to Biden’s victory in 2020 but who, according to the poll, support him less this time.

Voters who backed her but not Biden (about 5 percent of swing-state voters) would have given Biden the lead in the Times/Siena polls if they had supported him.

We called some of these Harris supporters again to understand why they weren’t supporting Biden and whether he could win them over.

They show the serious challenges Biden faces. Some said he was too old or that they didn’t think he had done much as president. Black voters in particular said they didn’t believe he was doing enough to help black Americans.

They also point to opportunities for Biden. Although many said they would probably vote for Trump, nearly all said they were not enthusiastic about either option and that Trump had offended them personally. For some, Democratic messages on issues important to them, such as abortion and the economy, had not reached them.

In a telling indication of how restless voters remain with a year to go, many of them expressed different opinions during follow-up interviews than during the survey. In response to neutral questions, some who had said they were unsure became more certain in their support for either candidate at the end of the interview, and others changed their support after recalling their impressions of both candidates and talking more about their feelings. priority topics.

A phone call with a New York Times reporter is not the same as a conversation with friends or family. It is also not the same as a campaign ad. But it was an opportunity for a group of voters, some of them relatively disengaged, to think about the candidates, the issues and the campaigns.

Here’s how Harris supporters broke down:

If Ms. Harris ran for president, Bridgette Miro, 52, a retired state employee in Glendale, Arizona, who is Black, would vote for her “one hundred thousand percent.”

He likes the work Harris did in California, where she was attorney general and U.S. senator before becoming vice president. She likes “the way she handles herself.” She likes that “the color of her skin is like the color of my skin.”

In the survey and at the beginning of the interview, Miro said he would vote for Trump in this election. She is a Republican who said, “I have no feelings at all” about the job Biden has done as president. But in the end, she had switched her support to Biden, after recalling her negative opinions of Trump, who she claimed was racist and did not do enough to prevent police violence against black people.

“All my frustration comes from the murder of black people,” he said. “If we can get someone in office who can control the police force a little bit, that gives us a little bit of hope.”

And then there was Mrs. Harris: “If she’s on the ballot, I’m going to vote for her. She is Kamala against everyone.”

“I just think he has a lot more to offer than the typical old straight white guy,” said a 40-year-old artist from Georgia, who declined to share her name because she feared backlash given the polarization of the country. “I like the idea of ​​a lawyer.”

A lifelong Democrat, he said in the poll that he would vote for Trump over Biden, whom he called “too old and a little out of touch” and “a little dumb.” However, he believes the problems in the country had more to do with gerrymandered electoral districts than with Biden. At the end of the interview, she said she “will probably vote for him again, but I’m not happy about it.”

Antonio Maxon, 25, a garbage collector in Farrell, Pennsylvania, still plans to vote for Trump. But he likes Mrs. Harris for one simple reason: “she’s a black woman.” She said she lost faith in the political system after Hillary Clinton lost in 2016. It’s important to him, she said, “just to see a woman, a woman in power, since I was raised primarily by women.” And he added: “My father was not there, my mother raised me, my grandmother raised me.”

For some Black voters, Harris’ racial identity is important not just for representation, but because they say it allows them to understand the issues they face. He highlights a factor that may be driving some blacks away from the Democratic Party. For years, he was seen as advancing the interests of Black voters, but these voters said Biden had not done enough, while a Black president could have done enough.

“I feel like he would probably do more for us, because I feel like not enough is being done for black people,” said Sonji Dunbar, 32, a program specialist at the Boys and Girls Club in Columbus, Georgia. In a very urban area there is crime, so I feel like she could influence more programs to at least reduce that crime rate and address police brutality.”

“Honestly, it was more of a choice not to be Joe Biden,” Clara Carrillo-Hinojosa, a 21-year-old financial analyst in Las Vegas, said of her support for Harris. She said he would probably vote for Trump: “Personally, I think we were doing much better when he was in office, in terms of prices, money and income.”

In some ways, though, Carrillo-Hinojosa is the kind of voter Biden hopes he can win once people start focusing on the race. Trump has offended her as a woman, she said, and he likes some of what Biden has done, including her support of Israel.

Above all, he said, he strongly supports abortion rights, and he didn’t realize that Biden does too. He said that because state abortion bans had gone into effect during his presidency, he assumed it was his fault. Ultimately, despite his misgivings about the economy, support for abortion rights would likely be what would decide his vote, he said.

Maxon, the 25-year-old Pennsylvania garbage collector, considers himself a Democrat, although this election would be his first time voting. The war between Israel and Hamas has made him doubt Biden’s handling of foreign affairs, and he remembers Trump policies that helped him.

“The most important thing for me is not to see America fall into ruins,” he said. “With this war I think Biden is too lenient: with Hamas, Iran, Iraq, the whole nine yards. What I like about Trump is that he kept everyone in line and didn’t want to mess with America.”

Maxon, who is black, said Trump had made racist comments, but he plans to vote for him. “He has helped countless black people, overwhelmingly more than Biden,” he said. Specifically, he said, it was through pandemic unemployment assistance and other relief funds at the beginning of the pandemic (the Biden administration also distributed relief funds).

Ms. Dunbar, 32, from Georgia, is a Democrat, but she didn’t say anything positive about either candidate and isn’t sure who to vote for.

“I don’t know much or hear much about what he’s doing,” he said of Biden’s presidency. She leaned toward Trump in the poll, but in the interview she said he seemed to carry too much baggage: comments he made about women, generalizations about racial or ethnic groups, accusations against him.

She says it’s important to vote, even when you’re undecided. Democrats have one thing going for her, she said: support for the issue most important to her: women’s rights.

“Abortion comes into play with that,” he said. “I still like that women can choose what to do with their bodies. And the way things have gone, it’s an agenda about women, period. “Not just black women, but women in general.”

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