The Two-Time Trump Voters Who Have Had Enough

The day after former President Donald Trump was convicted of 34 felonies, I sat down for a focus group with nine voters from across the country who voted for him twice and dont want to vote for him again. They are not, however, all committed to voting for President Joe Biden instead.

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These are the double haters: the chunk of voters who are dissatisfied with both candidates, and are trying to decide which one is less bad. Although many of them are out on Trump, theyre struggling to get there on Biden. If Biden is going to win in November, these are the voters he must persuade to hold their noses and vote for him.

And theres reason to believe that Trumps recent felony conviction just made it a little bit easier for them to do it.

Many of the voters in this group had familiar stories: They supported Trump in the past as the lesser evil. They couldnt stomach Hillary Clinton in 2016. They were lifelong Republicans who couldnt imagine voting for a Democrat. Some of them remember watching The Apprentice and admiring Trump for his perceived business savvy.

But the events of January 6 and general fatigue with Trumps antics have made these voters not very likely or not at all likely to vote for him again in 2024.

I made my mind up quite a while ago that I wouldnt vote for him, Alex from Illinois said. I just said, I cant bring myself to do it.

Chuck from Ohio agreed: Theres no change in my desire to vote for Mr. Trump. He continued: Im not voting for the man, period, end of discussion.

For many of these people, Trump had already crossed a red line. His conviction is just more evidence of his deficient character and his unfitness for high office.

And his lack of remorse was another log on the fire. Theres no ownership whatsoever. Its always someone elses fault, Eileen from Illinois said.

Michele from Florida said, I want criminals to go to jail. That extends not just to Trump, but to Democrats like Senator Bob Menendez, she said.

Many talked about being repelled by Trumps disrespect for institutions. Some said they believed the trial was politicized, a con job brought by Bidens DOJ. And yet, most had faith in the process. While allowing for some political bias in the system, by and large they accepted the legitimacy of the guilty verdict.

I thought the trial was highly politicized, but in the hands of the jury, both sides had the chance to present their case, Ryan from Colorado said. And thats ultimately how it should have been done.

Michele agreed: Im tired of the nonsense, and I believed the testimony. And that is why I am happy that the jury found him guilty. And I think now that he is a convicted felon, hes completely unfit.

They may not be Trump voters anymore, but many of them are not fans of Biden.

When asked to grade Bidens performance, three gave Cs, three gave Ds, and three gave Fs. Only one admitted to ever voting for a Democrat, and Alex, the Illinoisian, said flatly: I will never vote for, probably, a Democrat in my life.

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Their complaints with Biden ran the spectrum: Stop giving away free money, Ryan said. Chuck wants to see Kamala Harris replaced as vice presidenthe thinks Liz Cheney would be better. One said Hunter Bidens conduct speaks poorly to Bidens parenting skills.

Some of them are third-party curious, but theyre wary because, as one said, I view any third-party candidate as kind of a vote for Trump. When asked how they would vote if the election were held today, only two said they would vote third-party. One said they would abstain, and another would write in a candidate.

The remaining five plan on voting for Biden. This isnt because they are fans of the president. Few had positive things to say about Bidens policy agenda. But they view him as the more palatable of two bad options.

As Chuck put it: I dont like Mr. Biden because Im concerned about his age. He may die in office and I think his vice president is not someone I want in the Oval Office either. But between the president and vice president, theyre still both better than Mr. Trump.

Spending 90 minutes with this group helps explain how the double haters are thinking about this race. Theyre not all united ideologically, but theyre united in trusting the judicial system over Trumpat least for now.

These voters dont speak for the majority; as swing voters, theyre marginal. But the margins will decide this race. The conviction confirmed what many of them already knew: Trump is unfit for office.

Whether or not voters like this go home to Trump or choose to support Biden over the next five months will be a big factor in deciding the election. A lot of variables are involved: whether Trumps daily chaos starts to make more of an impression; Bidens performance in the debates; prices and interest rates; the salience of issues such as immigration and abortion; and what Trumps sentence ends up being.

For now, Bidens team should capitalize on the verdict by trying to come across as the sane, pro-rule-of-law candidate. And the conviction fits well with the presidents message of dont compare me to the Almighty; compare me to the alternative. He can now stand on the debate stage and say, America isnt the kind of country that will put a convicted felon in the White House.

If, in our present political climate, nothing is dispositive, Bidens ability to make such a clear statement is certainly a plus.