Those who are ready to turn the page past president Donald Trump might be looking for “change we can believe in,” which happened to be a slogan used by former Commander in Chief Barack Obama.
Others, though, are clamoring for four more years of “making America great again.”
For CNHI’s “Pulse of the Voters” project, an array of voices and beliefs chimed in on the days leading up to the 2020 presidential election.
Wants Trump out
Dean Boggs lives in rural Boyd County, where Donald Trump racked up a 37 percent margin in 2016.
But Boggs wasn’t one of the voters who pulled for Trump in that election.
Asked if he supported Trump in 2016, Boggs chuckles. “No,” he says. He pauses for a beat. “Absolutely not,” he adds, in case “no” was unclear.
Boggs, 59, is a blue-collar worker, a maintenance technician at the Ashland Community and Technical College EastPark campus.
He has paused for a quick talk while trundling a large wheeled trash bin through the main hallway at ACTC EastPark.
He is part of a demographic typically perceived as being solidly behind President Trump.
However, the Trump presidency has solidified his views. What does he think of Trump now? “Even worse than it was three years ago,” he says.
And why? “He’s a criminal and a crook,” Boggs says.
He stops to ponder the potential field of Democratic challengers. Right now he does not have a favorite. But it is still early in the race.
His main priority now is a challenger that can oust Trump from office. “A change in administration,” he says succinctly.
He will be looking and listening for challengers who will look out for people like him. “Anything that doesn’t pertain to the wealthy, the entitled, the rich,” he says.
Pressed for something more specific, he names health care as a legislative priority.
Still behind Trump
Austin Brinegar is 18. He is a student at Ashland Community and Technical College’s campus at EastPark.
He is walking to class on a Thursday morning shortly after the 2019 Kentucky gubernatorial election, the first for which he was eligible to vote.
Brinegar, who lives in Ashland, says he is already looking forward to the 2020 presidential race, in which President Donald Trump will face an as-yet unnominated Democratic challenger.
Unless he changes his mind, Brinegar will cast his vote for Trump.
He may be a new voter, but Brinegar has been watching the still-young campaign. He is scanning the news to learn about who is running and the implications for the future — “what will happen to the country,” he says.
He still supports Trump, although he believes the President could state his case more clearly. “I haven’t really seen anything bad about him. I think he needs to be a little more public with the stuff he does, the calls he makes, the policy he tries to make” Brinegar said.
Trump probably can withstand the current field of Democratic challengers, he believes. “I don’t think he has anyone that can really oppose him on the Democrats but from what I hear on the news, it’s still a very changing party.”
His own interest is in national policy that will create jobs, bring peace internationally, and “help make the country great again.”
‘We need a change’
Claude Osborne, a 78-year-old of Ashland, has often experienced moments of disgust throughout the last three-plus years with Trump leading the country.
He won’t shy away from sharing his thoughts.
“We need a president that will talk to people and have respect for all the women,” Osborne said. “It is a disgrace what he is saying in this world about people. We need to really have a change. And I’d like to see Joe Biden knock him out of his seat.”
Osborne said Biden has the best set of credentials for candidacy. If he represents the Democratic party, the former Vice President will bring experience, Osborne said.
“That means everything in the world,” he said. “Trump does not have any experience. He was brought up a rich boy. He has no respect for the poor whatsoever.”
According to Osborne, taking care of seniors is the most important issue on which the candidates should focus.
“It’s very important that we keep this Medicare sound and see that the working people have a decent wage and see that the poor are taken care of. I know Joe Biden will do that.”
Seeing a second term
Harley Hogge, of Greenup County, said he was extremely excited about the 2016 presidential election — and that he was a serious Trump supporter leading up to that election. With regards to the upcoming election, Hogge said that he believes Trump will win with a larger margin for his second term.
“I believe it’s going to be more of a landslide this time around,” Hogge said. Given that a good chunk of presidents have served more than one term, there is less cause for concern that President Trump might lose.
Hogge said his views on the president have not changed much since his election, with the exception of a few small things. Those things, Hogge said, can be attributed to Trump being a man with the potential of being fallable. “I’m still a pretty heavy Trump supporter,” Hogge said.
When asked which Democratic hopeful might be best suited to give the incumbent a challenge.
“Bernie Sanders, if he can get his act together, can get a lot of support behind him,” Hogge said. “And if Hillary (Clinton) runs again then I feel she is going to sway a lot of the indifferent people that went with Trump or abstained,” Hogge said. “I like (Trump), but I can see why a lot of people might not.”
As for important issues, Hogge pointed to one immediate problem.
“The opioid crisis, 100%,” Hogge said.
Hogge said he believes the issues with China should be addressed, too, but believes the opioid crisis merits the full attention of all the presidential candidates.
Father and daughter Shannon and McKenna Hill walked out of the Oakview Elementary polling station on Nov. 5 already looking ahead to Election Day 2020.
Just an hour prior, 64-year-old Andi Hunt strolled out of Charles Russell Elementary with a similar mindset.
Hunt and both Hills all think Biden will best represent the Democrats come May, and subsequently November.
All expressed the same reason for desiring a change.
“The biggest thing for me is let’s just put some sanity back into the country, not be so divisive,” said Shannon Hill, 52, of Ashland. “(Biden) is less divisive than some of the other candidates.”
Said Hunt: “We have been so torn apart. It’s literally, in my 64 years, I have never seen the country stay as divided as it has. Every day, the president comes up with something that divides us even further.”
McKenna Hill, 21, said many politicians, including perhaps first and foremost Trump, should “stop being so childish.”
Hunt said if Biden and Elizabeth Warren would happen to team up, “that would be a killer combo.”
She said, as a Christian, she wants to see religious values shine in the next president.
“It’s time for someone who can reunite us,” she added.
Sour view on Trump
Brenda Bradford, of Greenup, said she is looking forward to the 2020 presidential election because she wants the current president gone, assuming he isn’t gone before the election.
Bradford did not support Trump in the 2016 election, and her opinion of him has only soured.
“I didn’t think he could get any worse, but he has,” Bradford said.
Bradford said she likes several current Democratic presidential hopefuls, but her favorite is Biden.
“I like Biden,” Bradford said of the vice president. “But I think he’s a little old. I believe we need someone younger, but I’m not sure who that is going to be.”
Though Bradford concedes the ideal candidate for the Democratic party hasn’t been chosen, her opinion is that the next president should be anyone other than the individual currently holding the office.
The main issue all candidates should focus on, Bradford believes, is bringing everyone back together.
”We’re being pulled apart,” Bradford said. “There’s just too much division. I have been around a while, and I have never seen it this bad before in my life.”
“I’d like to see some harmony and some working together because there are some important things that need to be done.”
‘Maybe Elizabeth Warren’
Cindi Francis, 64, of Boyd County, spoke with The Daily Independent about her thoughts on next year’s presidential election to which, she said, she is already looking ahead.
Francis said she did not originally vote for Trump, and was not a supporter in 2016. Francis said her views on Trump have not changed.
Francis said it is difficult for her to choose a viable Democratic opponent to run against Trump in next election.
“Maybe Elizabeth Warren,” said Francis. “I’m not sure.”
Francis said that she truly hopes candidates will focus on health care next election.
“That one is an important one,” said Francis.
Keep America great?
Marvin Salyers, 85, of Ashland, hasn’t changed his mind about Trump and he is already looking ahead to the 2020 election.
Salyers has been a supporter of Trump since the 2016 election, and he believes Trump is one of the greatest presidents who has ever taken office. His hope for the next presidential race is for voters to exercise their right so Trump can be re-elected.
“(A candidate should) run the country the way it ought to be run,” said Sayler. “It’s run like it should be right now.”
He doesn’t think Biden would be a good opponent to Trump. He thinks any of the other Democratic candidates would make a more viable foe.
‘Focus on education’
Nicole Johnson, 22, of Ashland, wasn’t a Trump supporter in 2016, when she voted for Clinton.
The resident expressed even though she didn’t support him in the past and still doesn’t support him now, she has changed her views on him.
“I feel like my views have shifted from back then to now,” said Johnson. “I feel like I’m more supportive of him, whereas I used to really be against him. I feel like I’m able to recognize the positive things he’s done for our country.”
Johnson isn’t sure what Democratic candidate would be able to compete against Trump. She doesn’t think Biden or Sanders will win against him. She doesn’t think people have shown enough support for either candidate to feel confident either will win the election in 2020.
“I hope people will focus on education and the rights of state workers, and definitely look at what’s important for our state,” Johnson said.
William Bellomy, 75, of Ashland, said he's already looking ahead to next year's presidential election.
“I voted for Trump four years ago, but I won't vote for him no more,” said Bellomy.
Bellomy said that he’s unsure of a viable Democratic opponent to run against Trump.
“I’m not even sure who’s running,” said Bellomy.
Bellomy said he hopes candidates will focus on education improvements and work force improvements.
“Everybody can’t live on social security,” said Bellomy.