The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

6 voters, 2 Americas: Here’s what Trump and Clinton supporters want for the country

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The 2016 presidential election has been a race largely defined by anxiety and aversion over the choice voters have before them. Fifty-seven percent of Americans say they are dissatisfied with the choice of major-party candidates, while 31 percent are “very dissatisfied,” according to an August Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are among the most unpopular presidential candidates in recent history. Despite the malaise many Americans feel over both parties’ nominees, there are those who have firmly made up their minds on who they will vote for come November.

Here, The Washington Post is seeking to break away from the drumbeat of the campaign trail to bring those voters' voices, hopes and fears front and center. We rode shotgun with a trucker across Ohio, hiked up Mount Rainier in Washington and attended Sunday service in rural South Carolina to tell the stories of six Americans — to best understand what motivates them and to capture firsthand how circumstances and personal experiences influence their political views.

Recent Washington Post-ABC News polls show that Trump supporters are more likely to be pessimistic about the country and to believe that whites are losing out due to preferences for blacks and Hispanics. Clinton supporters, on the other hand, are more likely to approve of the Obama presidency and feel that Trump is biased against women and minorities. Furthermore, at least three-quarters of both Clinton and Trump supporters are anxious about the other candidate becoming president.

From a small business owner in Virginia to a community leader in Nevada, we heard these same concerns among most voters we spoke with. In an election in which so much seems to be up in the air, these six appeared unwavering in their belief that their candidate is the best choice.

Of the three Clinton supporters we profiled, all were optimistic about the direction America was going and felt reassured that a Clinton presidency would not only continue the strides made under the Obama administration, but also take it even further. Al Martinez, for example, is a 57-year-old self-described ‘Tejano’ who voted for Obama in 2008 and plans to vote for Clinton this year. “[President Obama] should walk away with a proud legacy that he did all he can at the time with what he had,” Martinez says. “[Clinton] can continue some of his actions, but that legacy is already written. So guess what? Now she’s going to open something totally brand new.”

Clinton’s supporters are looking for logic, not passion

The three Trump supporters, on the other hand, were moved into action by a sense of unsettling and frustration at eight years under President Obama, marked by economic uncertainty and hardship. Gavin Garrett, a 41-year-old truck driver from Ohio, frequently finds himself preoccupied with the question of his children’s future. “How are they going to make a living?” Garrett asks. “It feels scary because you aren’t sure what they are going to have in their lives. What do they really have to look forward to?”

Many Trump supporters don’t believe his wildest promises — and they don’t care

As the election nears, the candidates are making one last concerted effort to woo voters. Clinton is bolstering her field operations in traditionally red states, like Georgia and North Carolina, while Trump is attempting to court minority groups by posing questions such as “What do you have to lose?” to African American and Hispanic voters at recent rallies.

For many voters, there is a lot to lose this election. Both candidates are offering up competing visions of America, and come November, one of those visions will be realized.

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