The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

13 remarkable quotes from people who voted for both Barack Obama and Donald Trump

President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Nov. 10, 2016. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
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President Trump won the 2016 election because of a small number of voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — voters who in many cases had also cast ballots for Barack Obama.

But how can a person vote for two such fundamentally different candidates just a few years apart?

Polls can help us understand only so much. Luckily, GOP pollster Glen Bolger conducted some really great focus groups with these voters in Canton, Mich., and Oak Creek, Wis., last month. I combed through the transcripts, which are available over at the sponsoring Crystal Ball, for some of the more illuminating, insightful and entertaining quotes. And there were plenty.

(Note: Some of these quotes may be from the same people, because the participants are identified only as “man” or “woman.")

1. A Michigan woman:

“Obama is more like your best friend who has parties and has Beyoncé over, and then Trump is like your dad. He's going to come whoop your ass because you didn't do what you were supposed to do and get it done, yeah.”

2. A Michigan man:

“I just, she never like went away and like rebranded herself. She just stayed. She was like a piece of [expletive] that wouldn't go down the toilet. She just like, she was done being secretary of state. You knew the next step was she was just gearing up to run for presidential, and she never got away. And then there always like with her and her husband, just always some kind of scandal of them d‑‑‑ing people over.”

3. A Wisconsin woman:

“I voted for Obama too, because, I mean, there's always been a white person, obviously, in office. I mean, he was of African descent, so I voted for him thinking I would change a little bit of the race issues that we had going on and make the colored people feel better, like they have a black person in office.”

4. A Wisconsin woman:

“I thought it was funny when he announced he was running for President, to be honest with you. Yeah. I really chuckled. I was like is this seriously who we have to vote for?”

5. A Wisconsin man:

“I'm still, to this day, amazed he's our president. I think about it sometimes, and I can't believe it. Like I'll see him on TV, and I just can't believe he's the president. … I mean, one minute he's on this thing — you know, 'You're fired' and all that stuff — and the next thing he's, you know, we're sending missiles over to Syria. And I just, I'm just, I'm wowed.” (Again, this man and everyone else here voted for Trump.)

6. A Wisconsin woman:

“They made Trump, I think, — I, well, I shouldn't say it was the media's fault, it was pretty much his mouth's fault — but he made himself look like a very mean, cruel person that just was very racist. And I thought he would, everyone was going to vote for Hillary because of that.”

7. Michigan man:

“Well, on top of that, she had an earwig in, and they were feeding her the answers.” (This was a conspiracy theory pushed by the Drudge Report and others. A woman on the panel seemed to agree, responding: “Right, well, that's what I'm saying.")

8. Michigan man:

“She just didn't care what she said to people, and, you know, avoided every issue that was out there, and didn't really want to really answer any questions. And, you know, it was all sideline, political."

9. Wisconsin man:

“I think they all lie, but Trump was more — is more obvious.”

10. A Michigan man:

“There were quite a few opportunities for him to stand up to defend things, and all he did was just roll over and show his belly every time.”

11. A Michigan woman:

“And I always thought that Obama is a really nice guy. Trump is not. But Trump is going to be a better president, because Obama was not.”

12. A Michigan man:

“Oh, you know, Obama is like a very entertaining speaker. Like he's captivating, and but he, yeah, he just, he tries to appease everybody.”

13. A Wisconsin woman:

“I didn't always like listening to Hillary. I didn't always agree with what he said, but I could listen to his like speech and stuff a wee bit more than Hillary's. Like anything she said just turned me off.”

A look at President Trump’s first six months in office

U.S. President Donald Trump, center, signs an executive order at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Washington, D.C. U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. Trump acted on two of the most fundamental -- and controversial -- elements of his presidential campaign, building a wall on the border with Mexico and greatly tightening restrictions on who can enter the U.S. Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Pool via Bloomberg (Chip Somodevilla/Bloomberg)