SEATTLE -- People often vote for change. Sometimes they even vote to change the change they voted for previously. Or, perhaps they feel the change never came, so they pick the candidate offering yet another path.
People who voted for both Barack Obama and Donald Trump have been the subject of much discussion in the aftermath of the 2016 election. Some point to them as a major factor in Trump’s ascension to the Oval Office. Others have compared them to mythical creatures, scoffing at their role in last November's election.
Q13 News reporter Matt Lorch sat down with Western Washington residents who said they voted for both presidents. We asked their reasoning, as well as their opinions on how President Trump is performing almost a year after taking office.
“The idea of change,” Bremerton's Shawn Lombardini said of why he voted for Obama. “He gave a lot of hope.”
With the Great Recession nine months old, the country was ready for a change in November 2008, and many looked to Obama with the hope of a quick turnaround.
Leah DeSeranno of Snohomish said she hoped for better health care.
“I voted for Obama because I think that the issues the first time he ran were things that seemed important to me,” she said.
But DeSeranno, a married mother of two, said she felt the former president didn’t deliver on those issues.
“His medical bill that he passed actually hurt my family,” she said. “Something needs to change with that. I suffered under Obamacare.”
The promise of universal health care was a pillar of Obama’s campaign when he took office, with an overwhelming number of Americans feeling the country’s healthcare system needed fixing.
A majority of Americans still feel that way, but after years of battling over the Affordable Care Act, many are ready to move on to other options. That’s one reason Zach Bert of Mill Creek said he switched his vote.
“I took umbrage with Obamacare,” said Bert, an aerospace machinist who voted for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016. “I believe from the data I’ve seen that it hurt a majority of Americans to help a small percentage of Americans.”
“(Obama) wasn’t looking out for me and my family,” she said. “Instead, he was looking to make a name for himself.”
“Trump’s got a good outlook,” Lombardini said. “America-first attitude.”
Lombardini, who is 36, said he was young and hopeful when he voted for Obama, but felt the country suffered during Obama’s eight years. He doesn’t consider himself all-in on either political party, but he says he leans conservative and that made the decision in 2016 easy.
DeSeranno said her disappointment with Obamacare pushed her away from the Democratic Party, but it was her distaste for Hillary Clinton that led her to vote for Trump.
“I felt Hillary should have stood trial,” she said. “I didn’t think that was something that was going to happen if she ended up being president.”
Bert had issues with Clinton as well.
“It seemed like Hillary’s campaign was not based on the good of the country, but simply for the type of legacy that she wished to leave behind," he said. "As a public servant, that’s not the way you need to go.”
But both Deseranno and Bert made it clear that they didn’t just vote against Clinton. They were firmly behind President Trump last year and still are.
“He’s doing what he says he’s going to do,” DeSeranno said. “Half the battle is actually following through when you say you’re going to do something.”
They’re also happy to have President Trump as Commander In Chief.
“To have a leader of our country say, ‘No. That will not be acceptable and we will not allow even the threat to our citizens,’” Bert said. “That’s what’s needed on the world stage.”
“When it comes to the military, President Trump has done well,” she said. “He’s big on follow-through.”
Bert and DeSeranno said they don’t find it odd at all that they chose to vote for both Barack Obama and Donald Trump, but they admit that many of their friends do.
“Because I voted for Trump, I must be a racist,” DeSeranno says she’s been told. “How could I as a woman vote for Trump? … I tell them that I liked that option better than the other one.”
She said she’s lost friends over the decision. Bert said he’s heard similar opinions.
“The argument is commonly framed that if we disagree with the issues from the Democratic platform, we must not care about minorities, the financially insolvent, these other individuals that are currently struggling in our nation today,” he said. “Couldn’t be further from the case. We believe that we can outline a better argument for policies that might not hit the emotional cues that these individuals feel, but that the data proves out is better long-term for these communities.”
Lombardini was a bit more succinct, chalking it all up to “political correctness.”
DeSeranno said she finds value in other people's opinions, even when she disagrees. She hoped others would do the same.
“You just need to take time and listen to both sides of the story and get to know the person, not just judge them by who they voted for,” she said. “Get to know them and what their true beliefs are. Stop judging.”
Almost a year into Trump’s presidency, none see the need yet for another change. They all said they’ll keep an open mind and wait to see who he’s running against in 2020, but they’ll gladly vote for Trump again if given the chance.
“Absolutely,” Bert said.