The ‘silent majority’ speaks for Trump

  • Jeff Spears, 58, of Salisbury stands in his garden Wednesday. Spears is a registered independent and said he voted for Donald Trump after finding Hillary Clinton arrogant. He also said he’s tired of being asked to pay more taxes. ELODIE REED / Monitor staff

  • Jeff Spears wears his "I Voted" sticker from Election Day Tuesday while raking outside his Salisbury home Wednesday. ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Jeff Spears put up his Donald Trump sign only recently. He said he thought the "silent majority" with Trump was most likely embarrassed to admit they wanted to vote for the billionaire businessman for president. ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Al Underhill, 60, of Salisbury, stands for a portrait at the Crossroads Country Store Wednesday. Underhill said he voted for Donald Trump because of his conservative stance on abortion rights. ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Shelly Lantaign, 41, of Pembroke, and her boyfriend Jeff Lucero, 43, eat at Chief's Restaurant in Penacook Wednesday. Both decided to vote for Donald Trump at the last minute, saying they thought Hillary Clinton was too corrupt to be president. ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Mike Faretra stands out by his Trump flag in front of his Bow home Wednesday. Faretra said he began supporting Donald Trump after the primary, when he realized the candidate was rejecting "politics as usual." ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • LEFT: A Donald Trump sticker is stuck to a pole outside Danis Supermarket in on Pittsfield on Wednesday. RIGHT: Mike Faretra stands out by his Trump flag in front of his Bow home. ELODIE REED photos / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Thursday, November 10, 2016

He lost New Hampshire by 1,500 or so ballots and may end up losing the popular vote, but through the Electoral College, the country’s “silent majority” has spoken for Donald Trump.

Salisbury resident Jeff Spears was among them.

“I think enough people were angry with the way things have always been,” he said. “And here was a guy who was bucking the system on both sides.”

Spears said he expected Trump to win, but the result surprised many others. This may be due to the under-the-radar enthusiasm held by people like Spears, who had his mind made up for a year but just put a campaign sign out two months ago. He didn’t answer polling calls or share his opinion often.

“A lot of people I don’t think were particularly eager to get into an argument over this election,” Spears said. Wearing an “I Voted” sticker on his jacket Wednesday, more people, he said, voiced their opinion in the voting booth.

Those quiet voters for Trump, as well as the vocal ones, were more likely to be older, white, male and without a college degree, a national Pew Research Center analysis shows. Trump also did better with white college graduates.

While many municipalities were fairly split between Trump and Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, the GOP nominee’s underestimated majority vote showed in several rural towns like Epsom, Loudon, Pittsfield and Salisbury.

Along those backroads, at the local businesses and on their properties, Trump supporters continued breaking the silence Wednesday.

Some chose the candidate last minute to protest Clinton. Others voted based on where he came down on a particular issue. And several explained why – with a scream for political change from the fields and the factories and country homes of working-class America – they voted, regardless of party, for someone who they said finally heard their voice.

Jeff Spears

As he raked the weeds and picked up leftover squash for his chickens, 58-year-old Jeff Spears said he was outside for the peace and quiet, and to escape Wednesday’s post-election coverage.

Spears, an independent, said he decided go with Trump after watching Clinton’s conduct during congressional hearings on the Benghazi attacks in October 2015.

“Time and time again, she didn’t answer the question,” Spears said. “I found her too evasive to be trusted.”

He also said she seemed arrogant, while Trump appeared more open-minded to new ideas. Spears said now, he hopes America will stay out of war, work well with other countries and not fix problems by “throw(ing) money at it.”

A taxpayer who has held various jobs as a substitute teacher and a visiting nurse, Spears doesn’t have much more to throw. He’s currently receiving Veteran’s Affairs benefits, but after his subbing calls stopped coming recently, Spears started saving scrap metal, gardening, and helping manage three households.

“A lot of people are doing without,” he said. And Trump, he said, has shown signs of breaking with the party line of spending tax dollars on inefficient programs.

“He seems to want to be doing something different, and that fit my thinking,” Spears said.

Al Underhill

Al Underhill is a 60-year-old maintenance worker at Concord Country Club. Standing in the parking lot of Crossroads Country Store on Wednesday, the lifelong Salisbury resident didn’t hesitate to say he voted for Trump.

“I’m a very conservative person and I did not like the hypocrisy of Hillary Clinton,” Underhill said. His main political issue, he said, is abortion.

“I know how Hillary stands on it – I think she likes to kill babies,” he said.

Clinton took a pro-choice stance on the issue, promising to protect women’s right to reproductive health services, including safe, legal abortion.

Underhill chose Trump for the candidate’s anti-abortion stance, and also because he liked the fact that Trump was “not a politician.”

Throughout the campaign season, Underhill didn’t broadcast his candidate choice – no signs in his lawn and no attendance at Trump rallies – but he would tell people who asked that he was voting for Trump.

Underhill didn’t know many others who were, though.

“People for some reason just weren’t willing to say they were advocating for Trump – they were just keeping it to themselves,” he said.

Regardless, on Election Day, Underhill said he felt Trump would win. Why? He prayed the night before.

“I knew the scripture would be held up in this election, and it was,” he said.

Shelly Lantaign

Only a few days ago, 41-year-old Shelly Lantaign thought she was voting for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

“I didn’t foresee this outcome,” the Pembroke resident said Wednesday, talking over pizza at Chief’s Restaurant in Penacook.

Lantaign said she originally supported Bernie Sanders, then thought about Stein, and ultimately voted for Trump to take a vote away from Clinton.

And with that outcome, Lantaign said, “I feel more comfortable and at peace.”

She hopes Trump might improve the economy, the health insurance system and life for middle-class people.

And even though she’s been put off by some of Trump’s remarks about minorities, as a stay-at-home mother of three children, including two adopted from Colombia, Lantaign said she prefers him to Clinton.

“It’ll be interesting to see what happens,” she said.

Lantaign’s boyfriend, 43-year-old construction worker Jeff Lucero, said that he voted for Trump as a registered Democrat. It was also a last-minute decision – he said the pile-up of WikiLeaks documents dissuaded him from Clinton.

No one really knew about either of the pair’s political decisions before Election Day – especially Jeff, who said he made fun of others for saying they supported Trump.

“I thought anybody who was going to vote for Trump was really ignorant,” Lucero said. “But it turned out to be the other way around. I decided to take my chances with him.”

Mike Faretra

Driving his car home from the dog groomers with his standard poodle, Roxy, Bow resident Mike Faretra passed underneath his flag pole, where below the American flag, a banner for Trump blew in the breeze.

Faretra put the flag up a couple of months ago. The self-employed 64-year-old – who sometimes works as an optician – said he initially supported Ohio Gov. John Kasich but warmed to Trump the more the candidate talked about stopping politics as usual.

“If he had been a Democrat, I think I still would have voted for him,” said Faretra, who is a registered Republican. “I really do believe he cares about the country.”

Faretra did add, “Now, I know he’s a fruitcake. He says a lot of things I don’t like, and I wish he would just stay quiet.”

These include lewd comments recorded in a 2005 Access Hollywood tape, where Trump brags about sexually assaulting women without consent.

“But that’s him,” Faretra said. “He’s rough. That’s not a reason not to vote for a guy, I don’t think.”

It does appear to be a reason not to vocalize one’s vote about the candidate, though, and Faretra said he thought some Trump backers were embarrassed to admit their choice.

“I’m not proud of this campaign,” he said. “It’s not as honorable as it used to be.”

But Faretra still decided to fly the flag. He thought supporting Trump was the best opportunity to get Washington to go back to what the country’s founders intended.

“I think with Trump you’ll find a more equitable group of people who are going to be fair with the system than they would be with Hillary,” he said.

Still quiet voices

As she left Danis Supermarket in Pittsfield on Wednesday, 60-year-old retired postal worker Linda Freese said she was looking all campaign season for issues to come into the conversation, but was left waiting until Election Day.

Freese, a registered Republican, chose to wait until last to fill out the bubble for president Tuesday.

“I was really undecided up until I was in the polling booth,” she said, ultimately choosing Trump over Clinton, who she said she didn’t trust.

Freese was one of several people walking in and out of the market Wednesday, but was the only Trump supporter willing to talk.

More Trump supporters in local communities were still hesitant to share their opinion after Election Day. One woman agreed to an interview about the president-elect in her Loudon shop, but later called back, changing her mind.

She had talked about how Trump addressed the frustrations of many, previously unheard voices. Voices that complained of unaffordable health insurance, undocumented immigrants receiving more benefits than American citizens and bias in the media.

“He is saying what we’re screaming,” she said.

(Elodie Reed can be reached at 369-3306, ereed@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @elodie_reed.)