A little more than a year ago, as Donald Trump was solidifying his frontrunner status for the Republican nomination in the face of a mounting toll of gaffes and outrageous pronouncements, Yahoo News set out to answer the question that had many establishment Republicans scratching their heads: Who are his supporters, anyway? In a series of profiles, we explored the backgrounds and beliefs of voters who had fallen early and hard for Trump. Now, with the president’s approval ratings near historic lows, we have gone back to these voters for their views about his presidency as it nears the 100-day mark. Are they disappointed that Obamacare hasn’t been repealed? Excited by the administration’s stepped-up deportation efforts? Dismayed by reports of chaos in the White House? Or energized by the president’s continued outspokenness? Here is one of those reports. Links to the others and a summary of what we found are here.
Justin Neal voted for Donald Trump because he wanted an economic turnaround, and because he felt too many Americans were dependent on the government.
Three months into the Trump presidency, Yahoo News checked back with Neal, who said he is not happy with how things have gone but puts most of the blame on the media and on Republicans who have refused to work with Trump.
“Honestly, I’m a little frustrated. Not that I’m frustrated with the president. The process is frustrating,” Neal, a 41-year-old mechanic at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, told Yahoo News.
“I don’t know if he’s doing a good job or has the ability to do a good job. There’s so much fighting and bickering back and forth,” Neal said. “They’re just demonizing him so bad. Back off — he’s our president. Let him do his job.”
“There’s so much negativity, from the media, mostly,” Neal said. But he also criticized Republican members of Congress who opposed Trump’s attempt to repeal and replace the health care bill passed by a Democratic-controlled Congress under then-President Obama.
“I don’t like that we still have rogue Republicans that are just not supporting. I don’t know names right off the bat. … I still think there’s a lot of Republicans in our House and in our Senate who are just anti-Trump, and it doesn’t make a difference if something is a good idea or a bad idea. It’s just ‘I don’t like you,’” he said.
But Neal also said he was happy that the health care replacement bill failed, forcing Trump and Congress to go back to the drawing board. “The health care thing was pushed through way too quick, and I think it wasn’t a good plan. And I’m glad it didn’t go through,” he said.
Neal, the father of two teenage girls, said the best thing Trump has done so far is sign an executive order to repeal environmental regulations put in place under Obama.
The worst thing Trump has done so far, Neal said, is to keep using his Twitter account.
“Get off the Twitter. Can’t stand it,” Neal said. “I understand why he does it — because he doesn’t trust the media to report it. And that’s a way for him to put it out there. I understand to a point. But some of the stuff, honestly, is childish to me. Just stop now.”
Neal had mixed feelings about the president’s missile strike against Syria. “It had to be done,” he said. But he added that the prospect of getting drawn into a broader conflict in Syria, or with Russia — which is backing Syrian dictator Bashar Assad — is “terrifying.”
“It could be a global disaster. So that scares me. But I find comfort knowing that I think these other countries know that also,” Neal said. “The whole point of owning a nuclear weapon is not to use it.”
“I’m hoping that with the missile strike with Syria — I’m hoping that will kinda show some of the other nations that we’re not all talk anymore; that we’re willing to back up what we say. And I believe, like, what Reagan said, we’re gonna demand peace through strength.”
Looking forward, Neal said he hopes Trump can work with Congress to succeed in passing a new health care bill on the second try. He was more measured about his expectations regarding immigration.
“I think they’re going to come up with something that’s going to work on health care. I’d like to see that,” he said. “Immigration is something they’re going to fight over forever. I don’t ever think he’s going to accomplish what he said he would — getting all of the undocumented people out of the country. There’s just too many.”
And Neal said that, in fact, he doesn’t support deporting all undocumented immigrants.
“There’s been people here who’ve been here so long that, me personally, I’m not saying that it’s right, but when they’ve lived in the country for as long as they have, I think it’s almost inhumane to throw them out,” he said. “There should be some sort of amnesty thing passed for it, and I think there will be. To say we’re gonna have everyone out of here — I think it was said to get everyone’s attention.”
Neal’s biggest concern is that the country remains “extremely divided.”
“I don’t know what is going to happen. But we as a nation — I don’t care what color, background — we need to stop being so divided and stop all the fighting,” he said.
Read more from ‘The Ever-Trumpers’:
Read more from Yahoo News’ coverage of Trump’s first 100 days: