Andrew Smith (57), a Republican from Columbus, OH, grew up in Maine where he was raised Conservative, “because that’s pretty much all we had up there.” He is a long-time Republican who can’t stand Trump, and he voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. When he married Lavea Brachman, a Democrat, who is also being interviewed for this project, he went to work in his in-laws’ paint and resin business in Columbus. He is now CEO.
We are providing the unfiltered opinions of voters interviewed for this project. Those views are based on their understanding and perception of facts and information from a range of sources. In some cases, that information may be misleading or incorrect.
Has Donald Trump’s presidency turned out the way you thought it would back in 2016 when he was first elected president? Is it better or worse than you expected?
Not at all what I expected. I didn’t realize how undisciplined and unprincipled he would be, expecting him to grow in office and learn the craft of politics. That said, many outcomes were better than I expected until COVID, and much worse since.
Do you believe that Donald Trump has fulfilled his campaign promises and is this a good thing or a bad thing for the country?
I think his promises have been fulfilled at about the same rate as those by most other people running or elected to public office. Much of his policy agenda that I supported remains unfulfilled.
Has Joe Biden turned out to be the type of candidate you expected at the start of the primary elections? Please explain.
He’s a bit less vigorous than I had hoped, and a bit more solicitous of his party’s left-wing than I would like.
What does Donald Trump need to do to win the election in November? Do you think he has a chance?
Trump still does have a chance to be re-elected, but sitting here three months from the election, “miracle” isn’t too strong a description for what it will take. Acting more statesmanlike, the coronavirus disappearing abruptly, the economy recovering sharply, and Biden unmistakably exhibiting senility, together might be enough.
What does Joe Biden need to do to win the election in November? Do you think he has a chance?
Biden just needs to smile, keep quiet, and not die if he wants to win. He is the frontrunner by a mile.
If elected, what should Donald Trump do to bring the country together?
Trump is temperamentally unable to act as a unifier, in part because he is so hostile toward those who disagree with him. This invites constant attacks on him that reinforce this divisive cycle. His opponents are not blameless.
If elected, what do you think Joe Biden should focus on for his first 100 days in office?
Ideally, not much. The best presidents have generally gotten out of the way of the American people and let them go about their business undisturbed by their government. Unless there remains a palpable crisis, I hope he resists the urge to do anything big.
Do you have any concerns about the general election in November, and if yes, what are your concerns?
Other than ballot harvesting in California, where it won’t make a difference at the top, no meaningful worries here.
Should in-person voting be required in November? Why or why not?
No, it should not be required. However, there is no need not to have reasonable rules about voting such as cutoffs for registration, fixed duration of absentee voting, valid identification, etc. This includes special rules to reduce the risk of fraud from large numbers of mail-in ballots
Do you think Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests will affect voter choice? Please explain.
Yes to both. Trump has been a poor leader during the pandemic, and that will hurt him. People want a strong-seeming leader in a crisis, not necessarily an effective one. Andrew Cuomo is a great example: probably the worst actual state-level COVID performance in the country, but among the most admired for his handling of it (go figure). On the BLM protests, because they have devolved into violence and disorder, this will hurt Biden, who has not effectively distanced himself from the rioters and those who have enabled them.
Do you think COVID-19 will affect voter turnout? If yes, how?
This is complicated by the ability to cast votes by mail. If you have an anything-goes absentee process as we have in Ohio, it’s easy to avoid voting in person. I think people will be less inclined to vote in person because of the virus, and mail-in voting requires planning ahead, which may suppress actual voting among some groups.
Do you think the closure of voting locations across the country due to COVID-19 will affect elections in your state in November? Please explain.
Yes. Having fewer locations makes it harder to vote, so fewer people will do so.
At this point, what is your preferred method of voting in November? Why?
I’ll probably vote absentee because it is easy.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the pandemic in your state and across the country?
I am very disappointed that the incidence of active virus cases, their serious health consequences, and the negative economic impact of state-level control measures all have remained so significant. The public health infrastructure was unprepared and slow to react; and public leadership in some cases actually made things worse. Our country also must contend with a significant portion of the public that resists restrictions on their liberties and does not follow reasonable control measures. Ohio has done relatively well, but the recent trend has been worrisome. The only hopefulness comes from the news about vaccine trials.
What are your thoughts on the reopening of schools across the country?
Local schools ought to do everything they can to get kids back in the classrooms to the extent possible. It will be bad for most children not to be in school, and also bad for most families. I think remote learning will be harder to manage for people who have fewer resources, so not opening schools is an economically regressive policy. I think the physical health risks to adults can be managed, but the mental health damage to the kids cannot be.