SAINT PAUL, October 16 — When the United States awoke to the surprising news that Donald Trump was its new president in November 2016, one statistic stood out: despite Trump’s sexist comments and scandals, more than half of white women had voted for him.
Women will play a huge role in the crucial midterm elections next month, too. Even though many voters plan to shun the Republican Party, shaken by Trump’s tirades and bruised by the Supreme Court appointment of Brett Kavanaugh, most Republican women still remain loyal to the “Grand Old Party.”
AFP spoke to three Republican women and one who is still undecided, all of them planning to vote in Minnesota, a battleground state that Trump has visited twice in the last six months.
Supreme Court, despite Trump
LEAH JACOBSON, 37
Leah Jacobson is expecting her seventh child, she revealed with a contagious smile, as she bustled cheerfully around one chilly October evening in the small lakeside town of Crosby.
She had organized a meeting between voters and Republican candidate Pete Stauber, who stands a good chance of winning this long-time Democratic bastion in Minnesota’s north.
Jacobson has voted both Democrat and Republican in the past, although always with the issue of abortion front and center of her agenda. She runs an activist group, the “Guiding Star Project,” that campaigns against abortion and contraception and instead “provides support for natural means of family planning.”
She said the 2016 election was the “worst experience in the voting booth I’ve ever had.”
“I remember standing there and I could not fill in ‘Trump,’ because I just didn’t like him, I just didn’t believe that he respected women … he’s flipped on the issue of abortion so many times.”
In the end, however, she voted for Trump because “I knew he would have Supreme Court nominations, and I knew that I believed him when he said he would put a pro-life candidate on the Supreme Court. So I was able to do it, and I said a prayer and said, ‘Oh God, I hope that was not the biggest mistake ever.’“
“So far, I’ve been pleased with his pro-life policies, I would never say he is somebody that I admire,” she says. “But I think that he’s making decisions in the best interest right now of women’s healthcare.”
Good on economy, bad on style
ALISHA JOHNSON, 52
“I’m an educated woman who’s pleased with the things I am seeing right now,” says Alisha Johnson, a credit union executive whose message appears to buck the numerous surveys showing women like her turning away from Trump.
“From an economic standpoint, I’m very pleased,” she says, highlighting Trump’s tax reforms, as her daughter’s private school band practices behind her for its homecoming parade.
Johnson lives in Mendota Heights, a residential suburb of St. Paul and a Republican stronghold which could flip to the Democrats on November 6.
“In regards to President Trump, he doesn’t say things the way I would say things and I think that’s a shame but I’m not in that role,” she says. “What’s very important to me is his ability to get things done and also his ability to create change.”
Trump in White House, Dems in Congress
JENNIFER HALEY, 37
Protected from the cold by a Trump hat, Jennifer Haley’s eight-year-old son timidly steps ahead of her as they enter an arena to see the president speak in their hometown of Rochester.
“This is our first rally. My whole family, we support Trump especially my little man here,” says the full-time mother of four, describing the rally as a “once in a lifetime opportunity to hear him speak.”
“We’ve always been more liberal but Trump really kind of swayed us more, he has a lot of the same beliefs and values that we do,” she said, citing his defense of gun ownership rights and his crackdown on illegal immigration as key factors.
Nevertheless, she said she was leaning more towards voting Democrat in the midterms. “We just go on each individual’s issues,” she said.
MALLORY SEVERSON, 34
Mallory Severson brought her five kids to a small brasserie in Crosby to see the Republican Stauber speak, so that she can make an informed decision in next month’s election.
The law firm administrator declined to say how she voted in 2016.
“I am still researching candidates but I lean more towards his values personally,” she says of Stauber. “I look for somebody who has raised a family like I have, who has worked hard their whole life like we have tried to, somebody that maybe will understand the difficulties and the challenges of family life and try to make that better for working Americans.” — AFP