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What Trump and Clinton voters really think about Trump

Their views were more nuanced than our poll showed.

Donald Trump debate Hillary Clinton in Nevada a month before the election.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

At first glance, Trump voters and Clinton voters appear sharply divided on how they view Trump’s handling of the presidency so far.

Ninety-five percent of the people who voted for Donald Trump approve of his performance, according to a Vox-SurveyMonkey poll of more than 1,000 Americans conducted in early April. Among Clinton voters, it couldn’t be more different — 93 percent disapprove of his performance.

But when you talk to the people behind these numbers, there’s a more complicated picture. Some Trump voters expressed doubts about the president they threw their support behind in the survey. Some Clinton voters felt they needed to give Trump more time before jumping to a conclusion.

Trump’s handling of health care is an issue where these nuances are especially visible. As with views on Trump’s performance as a whole, differences between Trump and Clinton voters appear large. Seventy-nine percent of Trump voters strongly approve or somewhat approve of how he’s handled health care, compared with four percent of Clinton voters who feel the same way.

But Trump and Clinton voters alike place a lot of responsibility on Congress for the fact that the American Health Care Act — the Republicans’ proposed replacement for Obamacare — failed to pass Congress. And voters for both candidates have mixed feelings about the current state of the health care system and what can be done to improve it.

Here are the stories they shared with us.

A Trump voter says the president has “screwed things up”; a Clinton voter says it’s too early to judge

Trump voter: Nick Dragomer, 56, a metalworking salesman in Indiana

I honestly think [Trump has] really screwed things up. He hasn’t done anything since he got into office, he’s done nothing. All the promises he made in the campaign, he hasn’t done any.

Clinton voter: Jim Petito, 55, a retired demolitions expert in New York

First and foremost, it’s way too early to pass any judgments with respect to how President Trump is handling any issue. But too early is beginning to waddle away. Having said that, quite frankly, I’m a bit frightened at how President Trump is handling the health care issue.

President Trump flip-flops quite often. I simply worry how he might do the same with respect to health care. He has mentioned, quite often, trimming the fat in health care, and it has always been my experience that the poor suffer most when we start cutting waste.

I am a college-educated white man and disabled in America. I worked for the United States government under the Clinton and Bush eras and earned a very healthy living doing so. Then one day, while helping to man security in our nation’s airports, I was severely injured. I have been living off of Social Security Disability since 2012. I have two children in middle and senior high schools. And, yes, I am concerned. If President Trump reduces Social Security Disability in any way I could very well go under.

After getting hurt, I lost the cars, the house, the kids’ college funds, and on and on and on. How much more can I lose? I guess the answer is: lots. I guess more will be revealed as time goes on.

Trump and Clinton voters alike said it’s not all Trump: Congress is largely responsible for the fate of health care

Trump voter: Laszlo Lendvay, age 69, a semi-retired financial consultant in Arizona

I’m so disappointed in Congress. Particularly Paul Ryan. I think the Trump administration has done their part. Congress has not. Ryan botched it.

I feel a huge disappointment in our representatives. We elected these idiots to do something, and they had seven years to put together a program. And push came to shove, they didn’t. Ryan oversold himself to Trump. I wouldn’t call it a failure, but it’s a huge step backwards.

If you’ve ever been in senior management roles, you know you’re only as good as the people around you who you empower. You can’t do much yourself directly. You don't have the resources yourself to do it. You set the stage, you’re the ideas guy. But somebody else has to set out the policy. And Ryan is just not up to that task. He’s not one that can organize the troops around a specific policy. Maybe he’s an ideas guy. But he’s not an organizer. And I think Trump didn’t realize that.

Trump voter: Natalie Loiler, age 35, an accountant in California

I think that there shouldn't have been such a push to replace health care at any cost. It seemed liked a better idea to back off until something better is available. So when Trump stopped the immediate push and conceded for the time being, I think that was a good thing. Maybe he is more reasonable than some people assume.

I mostly blame Congress. There is so much hatred among politicians that they can't be open-minded and reasonable. But I just don't feel like Trump himself is the one who is trying to take away people's insurance.

Clinton voter: Celinda Jungheim, age 77, retired in California

I think it’s both Congress’ and Trump’s fault. But honestly, thank goodness some people on the Republican side stood up and said, don't pass this. Because it was a bad bill. So I'm glad that they did that. I'm glad that somebody stood up and said “No, we won’t.”

Even though it’s Congress and the House, they're so divided that amongst themselves they don't have a unified front. But bottom line, this would have been a disastrous bill to pass. If they really cared and didn’t want to politicize it so much, they’d take Obamacare, which we already have, and work on some fixes for it.

Clinton voter: Veronica Delgado, age 28, a grad student in Missouri

In my opinion, Trump's not making decisions that reflect the opinions of the majority. They are being really careless with people’s lives. They are disregarding the people’s right to have access to health care.

The rest of Congress who are all on Trump’s side, they are just kind of awful. I see them functioning similarly to him. They aren’t looking out for others. They are only looking out for other upper-class people. Most of them are wealthy. They’re working to benefit their network of other wealthy people.

Voters’ views on Obamacare are shaped by personal experience with the law — and some Trump voters have had good experiences with it

Clinton voter: Veronica Delgado, age 28, a grad student in Missouri

I currently have coverage through ACA. I'm currently a grad student, and I could get a policy through my school. But it’s just not as affordable, and the coverage isn't as good. Through ACA, I have better coverage that’s more affordable. I’m also entering a field of therapy where coverage isn’t great unless I can get a full-time job. But while I can’t, I’ll absolutely need ACA.

I feel that we really need to move towards [a] single-payer system similar to Canada or Australia. We are the only developed country in the world that doesn’t have that. That’s where we need to go from here.

Trump voter: Natalie Loiler, age 35, an accountant in California

Obamacare is terrible. What we had before Obamacare was better. My family is on union insurance. And it has gone up over $100 per month for a family of four, and prescriptions are less covered.

We were told before that our insurance would be affordable and we could keep our doctors. It’s a lie. I just don't feel I can trust what any politician is saying on TV. I won't see the true effects until it hits my pocketbook.

Clinton voter: Clive O'Donoghue, age 60, a manager from Texas

The ACA was a great start but can still be improved upon. Ultimately, I believe, however, that we need to move to a single-payer system. What does it say about us as a country if we cannot care for our sick, our frail, and our elderly? What if all the money that corporations are now paying for health insurance benefits were directed toward helping fund a single-payer system? As a country we have the wherewithal to make it work, but money in politics and lobbying by the insurance industry are a formidable barrier.

Trump voter: Nick Dragomer, age 56, a metalworking salesman in Indiana

I want him to leave Obamacare alone. It’s fine the way it is. And there are things about it that I really like. I like that kids could stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26. We were able to do that with my son, and he stayed on our health care until he turned 26, which just happened. So that’s good. When I got out of college, I got kind of screwed on the health care thing, so I’m really happy that my son didn’t have to go through that.

The sharp division in our poll results painted a portrait of extreme polarization.

But after speaking with voters, complexities in their views began to emerge. Voters shared views across party lines and expressed flexible ideologies. Overall, there was a sense that Washington’s increased politicization was what was preventing a fix to the health care system. The voters themselves just wanted something to get done.

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