'The spiritual water table of the country is so low that these are the two candidates we have,' said a first-timer who cast his ballot for Donald Trump.
I visited three polling places in northeast San Antonio, a predominantly white and wealthy area that has historically voted in overwhelming numbers for Republican candidates. It stands out from the rest of Bexar County, which tends to lean Democrat.
Among the voters I spoke to, the most intriguing was Elijah David, a young black man who works for a solar company and is a first-time voter who decided to support Trump. He told me the decision didn’t come easy, and he only made up his mind last night. He said he felt Trump and Pence would be more effective at protecting the country from external threats.
“The fact that Donald Trump has been outspoken against those who would hurt America, is something I feel is very necessary because our enemies aren’t backing down,” David said. “With Clinton a lot of her words sound the same, but I think she’s of an appeasement mentality. … The people that are trying to harm America are not diplomats, they’re ideologues and they’re here to enforce their way of life.”
David acknowledged that Trump’s rhetoric about minorities and women disqualify him from a “character standpoint,” but that he was giving him a chance because Trump hasn’t governed before. Still, both candidates don’t have what it takes to truly “win the hearts of the American people,” he said.
“The spiritual water table of the country is so low that these are the two candidates we have,” he said. “This is how low we’ve fallen.”
Outside the Oak Ridge Village Pool, lifelong Republican Carolyn Lay said it brought her “to tears that a man like Donald Trump” was on the ticket this year. Lay voted for Clinton, but flipped and voted Republican down-ballot.
For Lay, Trump is “a bully,” an “ugly American” and “an embarrassment.” Judging Trump both on his policies (“The wall is a silly idea”) and his temperament (“That’s so ugly for him to talk to [the other Republican nominees] that way”), Lay said she decided that Trump is unfit to lead the country. Lay said she has hope for the Republican Party and that it will survive Trump. And if Trump is elected president, she will still stand behind him, she said.
“I believe in our country, the system, the 250 years put in place by better heads than ours,” she said.
Many other voters I spoke to expressed a certain level of disgust with Donald Trump. Jose Luis Garcia, a Mexican immigrant, was at the Oak Ridge polling station with his son and wife, who is not yet a citizen and wasn’t voting. Garcia said this was his first time voting since he gained citizenship and that he was voting for Clinton.
“He don’t like Mexican people,” he told me. “He speaks bad things about Latino people.”
That was all the information he needed to decide to not vote for Trump, he said.
Other voters, like Jeri McCracken, a former Chase employee planning on taking the LSATs this December, said there was a definite turning point when she knew she couldn’t vote for Trump — the release of the Access Hollywood tape in which Trump boasted about sexually assaulting women. McCracken said she has been sexually assaulted twice and the comments hit close to home.
“As a woman, all you have to be is assaulted just once … for me to say, ‘No, that is not acceptable,’” McCracken said. “That’s just pure groping, that’s sexual assault.”
Follow the rest of the Observer‘s Election Day 2016 coverage here.