As polls open Tuesday morning, citizens throughout the Elm City are experiencing mixed emotions about the presidential election.
Residents interviewed in downtown New Haven run the gamut in terms of political engagement: some were undecided, others were apathetic and still more were steadfastly against one candidate or the other. Several people who have voted in all presidential elections for the past 30 years have decided to withhold their vote this year, citing hatred of both major party candidates. Others will enter the voting booth undecided. Yet for some, today’s vote represents an attempt to avoid an internal threat to the United States.
Citizens want a “clean” candidate, resident Pat Hatch said, and classified Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 as such despite the fallout from her use of a private email server while Secretary of State.
Though Clinton’s husband also faced scandals while in office, he was still able to succeed as the president, Hatch said.
“Financially, everything was perfect under Bill [Clinton ’73]. [The Lewinsky scandal] didn’t prevent him from being an excellent president,” she said.
But some residents will not vote for Clinton because of her emails and perceived untrustworthiness.
After moving with his parents from South Carolina to New Haven in 1957, a time when Jim Crow voting laws remained in the South, Willie Benton has decided to sit this year’s election out. Despite voting for the current president during the past two presidential elections, Benton will not be voting for Obama’s endorsed candidate, as he could not settle on a decision.
Similarly, Willie Davis, a lifelong resident of New Haven, said although he has voted for Democratic candidates Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama in past elections, he is “not down with” voting for anyone this year.
But Tom Rascati, who said he likes Clinton and “sort of” likes Trump, is torn. When he enters the voting booth there is a 95 percent chance he will vote for Clinton, Rascati said. His confidence in Clinton stems from her serving as First Lady, Rascati said, and with experience in the White House, Clinton can avoid the mistakes a newcomer would make.
Although Trump has no experience as a governmental official, he will adapt quickly with his experience running a multibillion dollar company, Rascati said. But if Trump were to become president the financial aid he receives from the federal government for disability may be at risk, he said.
Other residents expressed disgust about Trump’s personality.
“He’s so arrogant and pompous,” Pat Hatch said. “And the comments he’s made about women. I don’t think he operates in good taste or thought.”
One resident on the New Haven Green, who requested anonymity to preserve voter confidentiality, has voted in 10 presidential elections since he was 18 years old. Since then, he has not been affiliated with one party for every presidential election, but instead has voted for the president he thought the country needed. On Tuesday, he plans to abstain from voting for a president for the first time because he believes neither candidate deserves a vote.
“In my lifetime, I’ve never seen two worse candidates,” he said. “And that [Clinton] can’t put [Trump] away speaks volumes about how the country feels about her and how it feels about itself. But no matter how it ends up, America will still be fine. We’ve weathered every storm so far. The country is always revived.”
In 2012, Elm City residents cast 89 percent of their votes to Barack Obama and 10 percent to Mitt Romney.