North Carolina voters share their views on Trump

Trump voter and Second World War veteran James Stone, aged 90, at the St Matthew Church AME polling station in Raleigh, North Carolina on election day, Tuesday November 8 2016. By Ben Lowry
Trump voter and Second World War veteran James Stone, aged 90, at the St Matthew Church AME polling station in Raleigh, North Carolina on election day, Tuesday November 8 2016. By Ben Lowry
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On election day, voters in North Carolina spoke to the News Letter about they had voted, and gave a glimpse into how middle America feels about Donald Trump.

The state was one of the critical swing states that the Republican Party candidate had to win to reach the White House, and he did so by a clear margin in the end – 2.34 million (51%) votes to 2.16 million (47%) for Hillary Clinton.

Clinton voter and Vietnam vet James Cross at the St Matthew Church AME, Tuesday November 8 2016. By Ben Lowry

Clinton voter and Vietnam vet James Cross at the St Matthew Church AME, Tuesday November 8 2016. By Ben Lowry

I talked to 94 voters at St Matthew AME church, a polling station in the capital city of Raleigh with a mixed race electorate. The polling station normally votes around 75% for the Democratic Party.

My tally was 52 for Clinton, 13 for Trump, 5 for other candidates, but 24 voters would not tell me how they voted (disproportionately black voters, see the panel below).

Among the people who spoke to me were two war veterans, who both had concerns about Donald Trump’s suitability to be America’s commander-in-chief.

But the older of the two, 92-year-old World War Two veteran James Stone, nonetheless backed the Republican contender for president.

Susan Evans, who was disgusted by both candidates and wrote in Mitt Romney's name, at the St Matthew Church AME polling station. By Ben Lowry

Susan Evans, who was disgusted by both candidates and wrote in Mitt Romney's name, at the St Matthew Church AME polling station. By Ben Lowry

Mr Stone said: “I just don’t like [Clinton’s] personality, her way of conducting business.

“I was wary about him a bit if it came to pushing the button – I think he would do it a little hastily. But, hey, I didn’t have another choice.”

James Cross, a black 65-year-old Vietnam veteran who still has a spinal injury from his service there in 1971 and 1972, said:
“Trump scares me to death. He would start a war tomorrow.

“I believe she has the better outlook for the country, the better vision. She is for all the people, not just the few.”

Clinton voter Rev Robinson at his St Matthew Church AME which was also a polling station in Raleigh, North Carolina on election day. By Ben Lowry

Clinton voter Rev Robinson at his St Matthew Church AME which was also a polling station in Raleigh, North Carolina on election day. By Ben Lowry

Another voter at St Matthew with a military past was Waldo Clifton, who was scathing about Mrs Clinton.

“She hates this country. She’s a domestic enemy as far as I am concerned,” he said.

Mr Clifton, 53, a landscaper who served in Germany in the early 1980s, added: “I’m a conservative guy. I’m so conservative I believe in peace from superior firepower.”

When asked whether he thought that Mr Trump was a true conservative, Mr Clifton, who was born and bred in North Carolina, said: “He’s not as conservative as I would like him to be but she’s an ultra socialist. She’s dangerous.”

Trump voter, Dr Michael Karam, a Palestinian Christian, at the St Matthew Church AME polling station. By Ben Lowry

Trump voter, Dr Michael Karam, a Palestinian Christian, at the St Matthew Church AME polling station. By Ben Lowry

One voter at St Matthew AME labelled herself as a conservative but explained why she could not vote for Mr Trump or Mrs Clinton.

Susan Evans said: “I have always voted Republican, and that’s a lot of times. I’m unhappy with Trump, I think he’s dangerous for our country.

“But I think Hillary is dangerous and I could not in good conscience vote for either.”

Instead, Ms Evans wrote the name of Mitt Romney, the previous Republican candidate for president, into the ballot paper, as American voters can do in elections.

The minister at St Matthew (AME stands for African Methodist Episcopal), Reverend Marion Robinson, voted for Mrs Clinton, but was philosophical about the prospect of a Trump win: “I would hope it wouldn’t be that way, but if it is life goes on. We will have to live with it – it isn’t the end of the world. Black people came in the 1600s as slaves, that’s much worse.”

One of the most emphatic Trump voters at St Matthew AME was a Palestinian Christian (Greek Orthodox), Dr Michael Karam, 76.

Clinton voter Beth Mitchell with her twin daughters, May and Sopie, both aged 8, at the St Matthew Church AME. By Ben Lowry

Clinton voter Beth Mitchell with her twin daughters, May and Sopie, both aged 8, at the St Matthew Church AME. By Ben Lowry

He was born in Tel Aviv when it was in Palestine, and came to America in 1971.

“I came her legally as a refugee, not illegally,” said Dr Karam, recounting how he lost his land in the new state of Israel, and then went on to live in Libya, where Colonel Gaddafi came to power after he graduated.

“I was living in Tripoli, and thought: there is no hope in the Middle East.”

The Christians in Palestine had been a buffer between Jews and Muslims.

He lived next in Beirut, and is now long settled in the United States. Dr Karam was in no doubt about his voting preference: “Trump will be better for business and will lower my taxes.”

Dr Karam also said that President Obama’s attempt to ensure universal health coverage in the United States, Obamacare, “has been a disaster”.

“It will get worse and worse,” he said. “People cannot afford it.”

Asked about Mr Trump’s blunt and sometimes crude language, Dr Karam laughed: “He has to be careful what he says and keep his mouth shut sometimes.”

Hillary Clinton, he said, was all “lies, lies, lies”.

Lesley Ivey, a florist and creative designer, voted for Hillary Clinton but with no great enthusiasm.

“In the end it came down to the irrational nature of him. It is one thing to say things that you want as a regular person, but not as president.

“I don’t like a lot of her personality. She’s a liar. But her background is more apt.”

Stephen Woods, a 50-year-old African American man, cast his ballot for Mrs Clinton and spoke to the News Letter as he left the polling station and walked down its driveway, alongside the trees in autumnal colours. “I’m hoping America will realise we don’t need anyone of Trump’s calibre to be president,” he said.

My exit poll of 94 voters found:

Clinton 52

Trump 13

Other candidates 5.

24 voters would not divulge their vote (by normal St Matthews patterns it would vote 70 Democrat, 24 Republican)

The respondents were 73 white and 21 black.They broke down:

The 37 white men were: Clinton 19, Trump 6, Won’t say 9, Other 3

The 36 white women were: Clinton 27, Trump 7, Won’t say 11, Other 4

The 12 black men were: Clinton 8, Trump 1, Other 1, Won’t say 2

The 9 black women were; Clinton 8, Won’t say 1

• Ben Lowry (@BenLowry2) is News Letter deputy editor

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Trump voter Waldo Clifton at the St Matthew Church AME polling station in Raleigh, North Carolina. By Ben Lowry

Trump voter Waldo Clifton at the St Matthew Church AME polling station in Raleigh, North Carolina. By Ben Lowry

Clinton voter Lesley Ivey at the St Matthew Church AME polling station in Raleigh, North Carolina on election day, Tuesday November 8 2016. By Ben Lowry

Clinton voter Lesley Ivey at the St Matthew Church AME polling station in Raleigh, North Carolina on election day, Tuesday November 8 2016. By Ben Lowry

Clinton voter Stephen Woods at the St Matthew Church AME polling station. By Ben Lowry

Clinton voter Stephen Woods at the St Matthew Church AME polling station. By Ben Lowry