Listener supported WNYC Studios. Wait, you're OK? You're listening to Radiolab Radio from WNYC. Lulu. Yeah, hello. Hi, can you hear me OK?
I can hear you all right.
Do you do you have your orange slices? I've got a I have a confession. Hello, this is Radiolab. I'm Lulu Miller. And recently our producer Becca Bressler told me to call her up and somewhat mysteriously bring orange slices. She said it would help get me in the mood for the story she wanted to tell. I guess, where do we start?
So months ago, we decided to have this meeting where everyone came to it with monoliths like what are groups that we think of as being monolithic? Like every video game player lives in his mom's basement and is a dude and, you know. Right. And at some point, the idea of soccer moms came up OK. And like, of course, I've heard of the phrase, I played soccer. I have a mom, but I got sort of curious about where she came from, like, how did she become a monolith?
Hmm. And so I started poking around.
And what I learned is that in 96, she was born in the run up to the 1996 presidential election.
Tonight in the land of Lincoln, the convention of Platen, the Bill Clinton is running for reelection.
He's the incumbent against Bob Dole, the Republican candidate. And the soccer mom was this little slice of voters who helped hand him the election and completely changed the way political campaigns did what they do from that point forward.
Hi, Dan, and I should say I learned this story from these two women who worked on Bill Clinton's campaign that year, I joined formally around Labor Day, 1995, Ann Lewis, communications director and the deputy campaign manager. And hey, can you hear me OK?
The Hillary poster still in the ladies.
I was brought on to do some special project, including looking at women voters.
So Clinton had won his first term in large part thanks to women voters. That's 92. But then in 94, dropoff the women who had made a big difference in 92 less likely to vote.
So in 1996, the Clinton campaign needed to convince those women to come back to Clinton. And they started thinking like, OK, we can't just say, hey, women, Clinton's your guy. We need a way to focus our message. We need to find a group of undecided women that was large enough to make a difference in the election, but cohesive enough that you could identify key issues they all cared about and tailor your message to them. Oh, interesting.
And after doing a bunch of polling and research, they landed on this cluster of women who were moms, who lived in suburbia, who tended to be college educated, maybe in our 30s and 40s, tended to work outside the home, predominantly white, were more secular. It was just a cluster of trades.
But according to the polling, there were a lot, millions of them, and they seemed to be up for grabs.
They were the most valuable swing voters.
And just as they were zeroing in on this massive swayable slice of America, this woman running for city council in Denver, Susan Casey, gave a speech and she said, I am a soccer mom running for elections.
I thought, OK, yeah.
But if that's who these women are, the soccer mom, soccer moms, NBC News in depth tonight. The political professionals this year have called them soccer moms. They may be the most influential voters in the country right now, Kelly.
And tell me, what is a soccer mom, the so-called soccer moms are these predominantly white women who live in the suburbs. They are the most hotly pursued voters in this election.
And the soccer mom became this political force to be reckoned with.
They may sit on the sidelines at soccer games, but these women are front and center in this year's presidential campaign, a force that an Delinda started to harness, recruit them and talk to them, get 10 soccer moms in and around, finding out what they wanted and then promising to give it to them. Television ads promote Clinton initiatives on family leave, parental control over television programming.
The Clinton campaign started rolling out policies about tobacco advertising.
We fought to protect our children from the harmful effects of tobacco advertising aimed at them.
US President Bill Clinton has unveiled a program designed to keep guns out of the hands of young people.
Gun control. If it means that teenagers will stop killing each other over designer jackets, then our public schools should be able to require their students to wear school uniforms, school uniforms, sometimes just little things that these soccer moms cared about.
And it appears to be working.
Polls show most of these women leaning towards Clinton, among them, Bill Clinton has a stunning twenty eight point lead over Bob Dole.
And on November 5th, 1996, Clinton won.
Thank you for being here, in part because he locked down the soccer mom vote.
He won that? Yes, he won the soccer mom. And it was key to his victory, actually.
Men split their vote for Dole and Clinton women. On the other hand, 55 percent of women voted for Clinton and only 38 percent of women voted for Bob Dole. So women elected Bill Clinton. And what pollsters and strategists would realize over the years is that targeting their campaign messages to ever finer and more specific groups, it works. And over the years, who this target was has mutated. It became the security moms after 9/11, the NASCAR dads, Joe Sixpack, the Wal-Mart moms and these voting blocs just kept getting smaller and smaller.
Campaigns now have access to so much more information. People are more interested in sort of slicing and dicing and making distinctions.
Like, for example, as I was doing this soccer mom reporting, I came across this map in Politico in 2016. They went looking for the new iteration of the soccer mom, and you could move your cursor across different swing states and it would highlight these very specific cutesy named groups of voters. So like in Colorado, you had the newly mortgages who were people who just bought a house. There were white women in Vegas, lunchpail, Catholics, skittish soldiers, battleship makers, Cuban millennials.
And I just really love how incredibly specific this map was. She. Hi, this is Becca Bressler calling from radio. And so I first just called up a bunch of political strategists and pollsters to get a sense of what would this map look like today? You know, what are the surprising hidden slices out there in today's election?
So the one that I've been using personally is Trader Joe Republicans. I heard about sunset boomers in Florida.
I mean, you know, in rural New Mexico, there's a lot of Hispanic cowboy, utterly unsure dairy farmers in Wisconsin.
So I'm looking at three or four interesting groups of voters that I think are very nuanced, very targeted, but at the same time, very influential, very powerful.
Let's start with what I call Island Srikanth, OK, because I see the charm in these names and how the more particular and specific you get with these slices, the more seductive it becomes. But at the same time, are these just strategists throwing names on the chaos to give themselves an illusion of control?
So, yeah, I wondered that, too. And at the same time, I thought we're constantly being told the country is solidly divided into two camps. But we also know this place is increasingly diverse and there's just got to be so much more complexity out there. So I just grabbed a few other producers to go peek into some of these slices to see, you know, are these groups real and are there people in them who could swing this election one way or another?
First up is producer Tobin Lo Tobin, what is the name of your slice? I got Trader Joe's Republicans. Trader Joe's Republicans. OK, OK, so what what are they?
There are Republicans that are sold in the snack aisle of Trader Joe's. I'm just kidding.
No, these are Republican voters specifically in Texas. And according to the political strategist who told us about them, they have some preferences that at least I might stereotype as qualities of liberals. So like they shop at Trader Joe's, they listen to NPR, they may have things in their home that they live life, love, which is so specific. It is a thing that's tripping them up this year, is that they are very conflicted about Donald Trump. It was described that they generally don't like him and they're very unsure of how to vote when it comes to the presidency.
But they do plan on voting for other down ballot Republican issues and make sure Republicans don't lose Senate seats. Is this like a big group?
Could they could they actually sway the vote away from Trump? Nobody is quite sure.
But I will say I know I'm not the only one that holds. I mean, I'm certainly not going to hold these sort of unique set of views. It was not hard to find one.
My name is Tory Moreland. I'm actually a political consultant here in Austin, Texas.
She calls herself a small L libertarian, but I certainly have a Republican voting record.
Does she actually shop at Trader Joe's? I do. She loves the Chalong.
So what is the Sean Bell soup dumplings that they keep frozen? That's one of my favorite snacks. Do you listen to NPR? I do, yes. Do you have anything in your house that says Live, laugh, love?
Oh, my God, no.
That's good. But she loves or loved The Colbert Report, huh?
You have to be able to laugh at yourself. I find I think somebody who works in politics and kind of sees how the sausage is made, you've got to laugh at some of it sometimes.
And the thing that really stood out to me is that her progressive trappings, they don't really stop at the surface level. Climate change. Do you believe in climate change? Yes, very much so. Do you find yourself in pro-choice? Pro-life? I am pro-choice, but I will admit that that's probably. Not as common. It's interesting for me to hear you talk about these progressive ideas just because there are things that I'm used to associating more with the Democratic Party.
What is it for you that keeps you from being a Democrat? I mean, if I had to put it into a single item, I would say it's this idea of who is the better provider of solutions and outcomes. I think the left tends to take this view that government is ultimately the best and most effective way of creating large scale solutions. And I feel that's not the case, that actually whether it's the free market or just an. You know, folks coming together can can voluntarily create solutions that are superior, you know, she talks about this sort of conflicted mix of experiences, know on the one hand, liberal values of Austin are sweeping in Austin is such a unique place in the sense that progressive ideas truly like, you know, Democrat socialist ideas are the mainstream.
But on the other hand, she feels her childhood guiding her as she was raised in a very conservative community in Texas, the buckle of the Bible Belt. And speaking of buckle's and conservatism, she remembers growing up that her dad had this passionate resistance to seatbelt laws. That isn't the role of government. And he really harping on this idea of what the role of government is and its limits and why those limits exist and why they're important.
How do you feel about Donald Trump? I mean, I think we'll look back on this moment in history and be saddened by what took place. I think, though, there's a real danger to the opposite side as well that wants to take us down a path that I don't think leads to the ends that I have in mind that are about maximizing choice.
Do you know how she got in the last election? She didn't vote for president. She did show up to vote for other Republicans and to vote on certain issues she cared about, but she abstained from voting for president.
Does she have that? Does she know what she's going to do in this one? Yeah.
So I've seen a ton of buzz online, this idea of who could possibly be an undecided voter in mid-October of a presidential election, considering who's at the top of the ticket. And on the one hand, I say, yeah, who would be undecided? But then I really when I think about myself going to the ballot box and making that decision. I'm very much conflicted, and so I find myself truly in mid-October, in 2020, an undecided voter in terms of the top ticket item for president, I I'm not sure if I want to go third party or sit it out entirely, as I did in my 16.
Producer Tobin Lowe. Next up, Sakari. Hi. Hi, Lulu. So what slice did you pick? What is the name of your slice? OK, so the slice that I dove into is the fatele motel.
Cartwell Patel Motel Cartel. Yes, exactly.
Have you heard that term before? Yes, I have. Yes. I've read the whole article on the bottom of the cartel before.
The name comes from this New York Times article about Indian American hotel owners.
My name is Twinkle Patel and I own hotels. Is that, like, offensive? I don't really find that offensive. Personally, I don't find it offensive. Do you feel like you're a member of the Patel cartel?
Yeah, absolutely. Why not? Yeah, I am.
So what exactly is the fatele hotel cartel?
OK, so it turns out something like half of all motels in the United States are owned by Indian Americans. Wow. Half of what?
Like tens of thousands of motels. Yeah. And then like 70 percent of those people all have the last name Patel, which is a common surname in the Indian state of Gujarat, which is where a lot of these people's families happen to originate from. Oh, OK.
It was a very viable business to go into making live on site. You know, they can run the property, they can minimize expenses. They don't have to pay rent.
Hotels require a lot of labor. And often with our Indian South Asian families, we kind of have our built in labor force, which is our family, you know, and also the people who run these hotels and motels, they kind of stand out from the larger Indian American voting bloc.
Recent polling has shown that almost three quarters of Indian Americans are voting Democratic in this election.
Wow. I didn't realize it was that high. Yeah, but a lot of these hotel owners that I talked to, I'm in Minneapolis, Tucson, Arizona, many of them Lima, Ohio, in swing states.
Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Well, I already put my vote in. I went all red there, swinging hard for Trump. I vote for Trump, definitely the Republican side. We've seen a huge savings when we get our taxes, you know, after some kind of like the center of my universe is my hotels, my livelihood and and my work visa. Only president came up from the hotel industry. So, you know, the fact that he stand in front of a paycheck and just the back of my paycheck, not only find the background check, you got to find the front of a check.
So there's this big group of Indian American hotel owners peppered all over swing states, lots of whom appear to be supporting Trump. But the reason I found this slice so interesting, the reason it feels like a slice that could really swing an election is because it also contains guys like Mel, that Hopital Mel lives in Minnesota.
I've lived in Minneapolis for the last six years and he owns a bunch of hotels with his family in Minnesota and Wisconsin, Minneapolis, Rochester and throughout Wisconsin.
His parents bought their first motel when he was 11 years old. Here's a small motel is also a state that went between Milwaukee and Green Bay Parkway Motel. That's where he grew up.
I was just going into high school and I remember, like, you know, most people are like, oh, like, what are you doing this weekend? And it was like, oh, I'm helping clean room.
He'd be helping fold towels, repainting the visuals in the summers.
I remember having an outdoor pool that I would help. My dad maintains vacuuming the pool.
Eventually, as he got older, as we saved money, his family buys more motels, they'll taking property. And then once he finishes college, I kind of take over the business and grew it today.
It's this huge business they own like 12 hotels.
So when we started talking about the election, you know, a lot of the small business owners are only looking at how it affects their business. This is our bread and butter.
And get all these businesses is my parents for when I was sort of expecting him to echo some of the things I'd heard earlier about, you know, liking Trump's tax cuts or opposing Biden's proposal for a federal fifteen dollars minimum wage, euphorically.
Usually we've leaned Republican. You mean your you and your family.
Correct. But this is a little different with everything going on.
The pandemic has just crushed his business. We were down 90 percent. Oh, wow. In the month of April and May compared to previous April and May of.
And now the more that I read covid-19 was dealt with. I mean, are a. Ministration know months in advance that this was coming. He's filled with all of these questions, why wasn't there a travel ban?
Why weren't we taking the proper measurements to try to de-escalate it?
And so as a result, I think a year ago, I would say Trump would be my choice. But, you know, just what's happened now, he's not so sure.
And it's not just the pandemic.
A lot of it is immigration. Trump immigration policies are tougher than what Biden will have.
The Trump administration has tightened restrictions on H-1B visas, which historically have been really important for Indian American immigrants.
Joe Biden, who is that immigration policy? A little bit better. But what Biden also hasn't said much about how he's going to help small businesses.
As our conversation went on, he kept swinging back and forth.
Biden has some good things for the future of this, for health care, climate change and education. Yes, but if we don't get out of this and I have to start over with our businesses, that's a big blow to us. But then again, then Trump has a little bit more of that business behind. Wow.
So you kind of witness the sloshing back and forth in real time. Totally.
And from what he says, he's not alone either.
It sounds silly, but I'm part of this WhatsApp group with like other hotel owners every day reading other people's views on it is kind of like, oh, wow, I didn't look at it like that.
Oh, wow. I didn't read it.
Are you going to hold your nose in and vote for one or the other? I have not made the decision to kind of filtering, you know, how things turn out. I mean, yeah, I know. We're getting down to the wire. Yeah. Every day. Huge. With what comes up and you know how they're speaking. I think it's going to be a game time decision.
I would love to find out what you decided in the end on the edge of my seat. Yeah. It's not a you know, it's unpredictable. We don't know. Producer Sakari. Next up, Tracy Hunt. All right, so so, Tracy, which slice did you pick? Well, I guess I picked an absence. You know, you looked at that list that I could put together and you notice that they're not really talking about black people.
And that's because when it comes to the black vote, pollsters don't really give us cute nicknames. They just sort of lump us all together.
And I mean, I get it every four years we see roughly 90 percent of black Americans voting for the Democratic candidate. This is Christina Greer. I'm an associate professor of political science at Fordham University.
And while the history of the black vote in this country is super complicated, she says the main reason for this is pretty simple. If you look at the policies that the Republican Party, they have been in the more recent history, a more white nationalistic ideology, which a lot of black people reject, obviously because it's anti black.
But the problem with treating the black vote as a black, she says, is it's just not. There are hardcore leftist progressives there, folks in the middle, and then they're serious conservatives, black folks, which is sort of seen as the slump. But there's a lot of action going on there.
And she told me about one politician who ran a campaign then in a way. Good morning, everybody. Thank you for being here. Prove that point. I am proud to be here to endorse Donald Trump for president of the United States, Chris Christie. So before he joined Team Trump, Christie was governor of New Jersey. And in his second race for that job in 2013, something kind of crazy happened.
He got nearly a quarter of the black vote, 21 percent. Wow. Were you surprised by the 21 percent?
We felt we felt quite good about it. I think we I think we more than doubled our number, our percentage among African-Americans.
Why don't you go ahead and just, like, introduce yourself? Sure. I'm like you. I've worked for campaigns big and small, worked for President George W. Bush. I worked for Senator John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Governor Christie races.
So what happened? I mean, how did the Christie campaign do it? Well, he did a ton of events in majority black towns and cities.
I remember him doing a town hall meeting in Irvington, New Jersey, which is right outside of the borders on Newark. And he did that all over the place.
He got endorsements from black politicians.
There's one short visual of him hugging one.
African-American Democratic mayor also got an endorsement from a prominent black Democratic minister who said Reginald Jackson.
So why did you why did you support Chris Christie? I was very strong on education issues and he was very supportive of giving parents a choice and made sure that their children got a good education.
I don't endorse many politicians, but Chris Christie is different.
We also did a commercial with Shaquille O'Neal. He's a good man. Excuse me. He's a great man. Please join me.
And, you know, there is just one other thing to which meant a lot to me personally as a black woman. When Whitney Houston died the year before, Chris Christie ordered all the flags in the state lowered to half mast. And even when there was a backlash, he didn't back down. Huh. So you add that all up. And twice as many black people, as usual, came out to vote for the Republican. So you might be wondering, who are they?
Well, we can't really know for sure who they all were, obviously. But for the sake of doing the thing that none of these political consultants ever seem to do for black people, let's try to visualize the black voters Christie was trying to win over. All right. So, of course, you've got your black Republicans.
And according to sociologist Corey Fields, there is a fair amount of variation among black Republicans.
Some of them don't think about race when it comes to politics, but some do race conscious black Republicans.
For them, you know, race is central to how they understand their lives. So like something like school vouchers, right. Like race conscious black Republican would say, I support school vouchers because they empower black parents to make decisions about their child's education and who knows what's best for black children, their parents or, you know, some white administrator on the school board, some black Republican support. Trump.
I'm glad that President Trump is more reserved as far as trying to do internationalism and also appreciate his push to make us energy independent in some way.
While I'm a Republican, do not basically an independent until Trump leaves office. So that's the black Republicans.
OK, but there are also some more single slices. When I was in New Jersey, I would tell everybody that I was a Democrat with an open mind.
This, of course, is Bishop Reginald Jackson. And Christie wasn't the first Republican he endorsed. He even voted for Nixon.
I think I think blacks need to vote in their best interests.
But when Christie ran for president, they've been chanting in the streets for the murder of police officers. Well, individuals have, but the black lives matter. But listen, that's what the movement is creating. I was at. Untrue and irresponsible. He didn't support him. OK, so we've got a couple kinds of black Republicans. We've got the Democrat with an open mind and any others.
Yes, I think the inconsistent voters are maybe like, you know, that cousin like I'm abstaining because the lesser of two evils and it's like I would call them that cousin that I actually don't vote at all.
And why is that? I don't follow the politics as for us, as far as like Republican or Democrat and neither party for us. Who else? Who else?
Like the Southern grannies, older black women. Yeah, very involved in their communities. Churchgoing, staunch Democrats.
I've always voted Democrat, you know, and vote consistently. I've never missed an election.
My name is Mary Smith. I'm 90 years old and I'm in Houston, Texas. I feel every time it's time to vote. You know, those elections where people win with like two thousand votes, like those are the seven granny. Producer Tracy Hunt Radiolab will be back in a moment. Hi, this is Emily and I'm calling from Toronto, Canada. Radiolab is supported in part by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.
More information about Sloan at w w w Sloan, dawg. Thanks.
Science reporting on Radiolab is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a science foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science.
Radiolab talking about voting block, they care, voting slices, slice and their now slices like you take a couple of your own to chase down, right? Yes, I did. OK, so who did you look into? Wait, hold on one second.
There's some. Is that a fire? You know, I never heard that before. Oh yeah. You should go find that. It sounds like a smoke detector.
Yeah. Hold on. God, you look like it's so high with a broom. Be able to. Yeah. Yeah. I literally broke it. Oh my God. I'm Lulu.
Yeah, well, this is actually a perfect little Segway into our next one. Or I guess you could say things don't go as you planned. All right. So where are we going for this one?
OK, so. We'll be back. Rob Lowe are going to what do think we think of as the heartland of America, the heartland of manufacturing, and specifically to could you take me to the headquarters of Goodyear Tire Smoke and why exactly are we here?
Well, well, so I had reached out to a political consultant in Ohio who said that I should go look at Republicans up and around the Akron area who work for Goodyear tires.
And so I went looking for what we're calling a don't tread on me Republican.
The pun there is on tread like tire treads, tire tread. Don't tread on me. Tread tire. Got it.
Who are potentially up for grabs and might swing against Trump because of a tweet.
Hello. Hi, Bob. Yes, hi.
How are you? Good, how are you? So I first called up this guy, Bob schroth I work for Goodyear.
I'm 40 years old, married with two kids. So Goodyear has about sixty four thousand employees. And Bob started out working on his massive machine, making rubber for all these different car parts, tires, suspension. And how long have you worked at Goodyear for?
So I've been a good year for twenty seven years. I got hired in July of 1993.
And are you the first in your family to be a good year employee or does it stretch back?
No, ma'am. So my grandfather worked there. My dad worked there. They're both retired. I work there now along with my brother. My grandmother actually worked there as well as my great grandmother. Oh, my God. It's a it's a long history. It's treated my family very well.
OK, so the tweet. So August 19th, twenty 20. So just a couple of months ago, Trump tweets don't buy. I mean, like, should I pretend to be Trump? I don't know. His emphasis is important. Maybe so let me try again. Oh don't you trust me. Yeah I know I. How would I even do this. I don't know. I'm not going to do OK. Don't buy Goodyear tires. They announced a ban on Magga hats get better tires for far less.
This is what the radical left Democrats do. You can play the same game and we have to start playing it now.
Well, I saw it and was furious, just furious over it, because for Bob, he's like, first of all, look, Goodyear has a policy and they've always had a policy that political clothing, headwear, gear, buttons, anything of the like has always been not appropriate at Goodyear.
So the idea that Goodyear was just like singling out Magots is just simply not true.
The Bob said to really understand why someone like him was so furious about this tweet, you have to understand.
Akron, Ohio. Yeah.
So so back in those days, so back around the turn of the century, Akron got the nickname the rubber capital of the world.
All of the big rubber manufacturers were were headquartered here. So not only did you have Goodyear, Firestone, B.F. Goodrich, General Tire, Mohawk Rubber, and in Akron, you have these neighborhoods like Goodyear Heights. Firestone had Firestone Park schools would be a Firestone High School. We have Silberling Grade School, which is you know, those are all rubber names.
If you went downtown, there was a factory or a shot from one of those rubber companies just about on every corner.
This area just sort of has the tire industry in its DNA, but then jump ahead to the mid nineties.
There is no turning back from the world of today and tomorrow. President Clinton signs NAFTA, North American Free Trade Agreement, which as we know now, that a lot of manufacturing jobs to Mexico and out of the country and over time thought that in Akron, you know, the shops closed up, thousands of people lost their jobs. It's nothing like it used to be.
So then thank you, everybody. Twenty sixteen. Donald Trump. It's great to be in Ohio. I love this state.
He campaigned in Akron, campaigned to make America great again and bring back your job, bring back all these American jobs that have been taken from your state and every other state in the Union.
Jump ahead on major projects. Trump takes Ohio.
Donald Trump will take Ohio in large part because he picked up these Republican votes because he said he was going to get out of NAFTA, he was going to protect American jobs.
And then four years later, he writes this tweet.
And for a sitting president, the sitting president of the United States, to call for a boycott of one of the oldest tire manufacturers in America. It's shameful to shameful, huh?
So is the idea here that Bob is a Republican, but now he just can't with Trump because of the tweeter?
Well, so, I mean, I guess I should just come out and say it like Bob is actually not a don't tread on me. Republican Bob is Bob is a don't tread on me Democrat.
I won't predict a win for Joe Biden in Ohio, but I hope he wins Ohio because if he wins Ohio, it's over for Trump. Oh, OK.
So, Bob, explain to me, he's kind of been a lifelong Democrat and it's generally Democrats that are more worker friendly. And Bob is like a union guy.
My grandfather was in the union. My dad was in the union.
Bob is in the union and therefore typically votes Democrat. And is Bob like an outlier?
No, I would say that there's more Biden supporters in the shop than there are Trump supporters, because Bob said a lot of his coworkers are pro union.
If you're a strong union supporter, I don't understand how you could support Donald Trump.
So is this just a case of like your political strategists made a mis assumption? Yeah, I mean, sort of like there definitely are white blue collar workers in Ohio who voted for Trump, who might turn against him because they don't think he delivered on his promises. Like, that's definitely a thing. OK, but I do think the assumption here was just that these Goodyear employees that are also predominantly white, they work in manufacturing, that they all would have been Trump supporters and that just doesn't entirely hold.
Well, Bob, I'm wondering, do you know anyone who was pro Trump is now going Biden because of this tweet?
Well, I do know that a friend of mine who I believe is kind of a Trump leaning type person do believe addiction's at least his mind. Hello, Scottie.
Hello. Hi. How are you? Not you. Better by yourself. So the friend is Scott Oswald, also known as Scotty. Can you tell me a bit about how you and Bob know each other? How did you guys strike up a friendship?
Well, I tattooed one of his sons probably about six years ago.
Oh, really? Yeah. So Scotty doesn't work at Goodyear. He is a tattoo artist.
I admit pretty much his entire family that he has tattooed Bob's sons and and Bob and his wife, too. We just kind of all struck up a friendship. Do you feel like you kind of became a part of their family? Would you go have dinner with them or hang out at your house or anything? Absolutely. For sure. And so Scotty told me when he heard about Trump's tweet, I just don't I don't know.
I just don't I don't I didn't really get it.
And to me, I just took it personally because it affected so many people that I knew, you know, so soon after he texted Bob how to hit him up, it was like, hey, what are your thoughts on this?
I said I felt like he acted like a 14 year old child. In my eyes, he looks like a boy.
And then I finally was just kind of like, well, you know, I actually could use some new tires if you wanted to know if I could get them a discount on Goodyear tires because he wanted to run right out and support Goodyear.
I just want to support a local company and I want to support my friend's business.
And he did. He took his car to the shop using his company discount, got Scotty for new tires. And that was that. That's a really sweet gesture. Yeah.
But I mean and then we got into it, we started talking politics and I said, you know, Scotty, Bob says you're trampolining. That's how he described you.
Is that how you would characterize yourself or at least like in twenty sixteen? Is that how you would have characterized yourself? And he says no.
Oh. Huh. Do you have any idea why Bob might have suspected you were Trump leaning?
I do not know. I mean, he might have just taken a guess and he guessed wrong.
But Biscardi actually isn't isn't a voter. He's never voted before in an election and never been over.
Yeah, I'm thinking like it's not important. It doesn't matter. Like my vote doesn't really count.
But he says since twenty sixteen, I sort of feel like that we've sort of taken like a giant step backwards as far as community and just being civil, you know, and he feels like Trump is dividing our country.
I believe so. Yeah. And I'm definitely heading up the polls because I feel like that it's more important this time than it's been in quite some time.
And so I asked him, who are you going to vote for? I'd rather not say.
But I think, you know, who I'm not going to vote for was a little hesitant and cagey, which is weird. It's like process of elimination here. Like, obviously he's going to vote for Biden. Yeah, but I mean, but we kept talking and eventually Scotty was like, I really I was really into Andrew Yang.
Huh? Yeah, but I was kind of disappointed that they didn't really give him a good platform to, like, express what he wanted to do as a society.
What he's going to do is when he votes for the first time in this election, he's going to write in probably Andrew Young. All right.
I didn't see that one coming. Yeah, neither. Neither did I. And, you know, reporting on this, like, I've come to really appreciate just how hard it is to put people in some sort of group because you make all these assumptions that can just get upended. Yeah, right. And this next story is actually a pretty extreme version of that. OK, so the slice is the Chaldean American community in Michigan, metro Detroit is home to the largest concentration of Chaldeans outside of the Middle East, which is about one hundred and sixty thousand.
This is Crystal Qasab Jivaro. She's a middle school teacher. What grade do you teach? Eighth. Oh, my God. Teenagers are not fun. I beg to differ.
I do love them.
Crystal told me the Chaldeans are indigenous to Iraq, started immigrating to the US in the early 20th century to work the Ford plants, which is why so many of them live in Michigan and the community is overwhelmingly Catholic.
We are heavily invested in the Roman Catholic Church. This is Francis, which is a pseudonym. I'll explain why later. And how old are you? What, 52 like Crystal. He's lived in the Detroit area for most of his life.
I own a body shop that works on commercial vehicles like semi trucks and trailers.
And he says the Catholic religion is a major part of the Chaldean identity. For one thing, it's a huge part of why so many of them live in the US in the first place.
And Iraq, you know, 99 percent of the population is Muslim. So at one time, there was 2.5 million Chaldeans in Iraq. And ever since ISIS get a lot of damage to Chaldean villages, there's only like a couple hundred thousand left.
So being Catholic when it comes to politics, he says abortion is a big issue to us.
You know, you respect life and then you honor it. You know, you honor that person. But life always comes first.
And because of that, most of the Chaldeans typically vote Republican. When the 2016 election came around, I just kept going, Kristol says, back and forth in my head. And I said, well, she didn't love Trump. But I said, you know, I'm just going to do the Catholic vote.
And I voted for Trump and so did most of the rest of the Chaldean community. And it's worth noting, actually, that Trump only won Michigan by 10000 votes, and especially because of this one area, Macomb County, where there is a large Chaldean American population.
And how many how many again are there? Did you say Chaldeans in Michigan or.
There are about one hundred and sixty thousand Chaldeans. Oh, wow. Yeah. So the Chaldeans definitely helped get Donald Trump elected in 2016, but then something happened that complicated things.
So it was June, June 11, twenty seventeen. It was a Sunday. It was a very busy day for my family. Crystal spent the morning running from thing to Thing Church, a soccer game that my daughter had, a piano recital, a communion party. Then we went to the soccer banquet. That was boom, boom, one thing after another.
From eight o'clock in the morning, she gets home at around seven forty five p.m. I said, let me put some pictures up from the Communion Party and she goes to Facebook to upload some pictures.
Once they got on Facebook, I saw all these videos of people down at the federal building down. Screaming and crying, saying, let him go, let him go. He sees a video of a man being detained with an I.V. on him. ICE officers had fanned out across the area detaining Chaldeans.
Oh, my heart, son. This is it. This is what we've been worried about. Well, so what what happened? Well, it's kind of complicated, but I picked up a whole bunch of Chaldeans because of a change the Trump administration made to their arrangement with Iraq when it comes to certain noncitizen Chaldeans in the United States. And how many people got detained? About 200. Wow. So the question is, is that could these detentions of Chaldeans, could this have soured enough people in this community to vote against him?
And maybe Michigan could swing back to Biden because remember, there are only 10000 votes that made the difference in twenty sixteen. OK. Wow. So, Crystal, for her part, she kind of sprung right into action. She went down to the local high school, started connecting people with legal aid.
I remember seeing a girl and I looked and I said, What are you doing here? And my mom, my mom was detained. I said, What? And this is a girl I went to high school with. You know, she was just shaking and she was nervous, you know, she just didn't know what to do. You know, I guess you see these things and like they happen to other people made happen to other people. We hear the deportations didn't happen all the time, of course, to our Mexican brothers and sisters.
And we, like, never seem to think it's going to touch us. Did you feel responsible in any sort of way? I did. I know. And I beat myself up for it for a long time. And that's why I worked. I worked so hard since then to vote him the hell out, to elect a real leader, a man like Joe Biden.
Now, Francis, he didn't so much spring into action. I just took off. He fled because they have they knew where I live because Francis actually I am not a citizen, is more or less hiding from ice right now.
Oh, I am. Yes, I am. I'm like any car that pulls up. I'm watching my cameras more than my TV. I get paranoid if a car pulls up. I don't know if it's them. I don't know if they found out. I don't know. Like I just don't take any chance. I don't leave home for two or three days.
Does the fear impact you in other ways? I mean, do you like do you have trouble sleeping? Oh, my gosh.
I was so bad that I had nightmares every night that people were grabbing me agents. I was up, but I couldn't stop them. Like I felt like I was up, but I was paralyzed. And that was every single night. And the worst part is like I hear them breaking down the door, coming back. I can see your hands grabbing my arm, trying to get me. And I can't move. And it's all just a nightmare.
If Biden were to get elected, do you think that you would stop hiding?
I think that there wouldn't be this initiative to try to remove us. So I would not be in fear. No, I don't think I would be.
And who do you support for president? Trompe. Can you help me understand that I will, I will, I will, I will help you. This is the humility. I don't care about myself. I care more about conservative values for this country more than myself. So if I have to suffer because of my beliefs, I will.
Is the idea, then, that you believe in prioritizing unborn life over, you know, living Chaldean Americans in your community?
Yes. Yes. Yes, I do. What can happen to our lives? Like we're not being killed. We may be being moved around or having to suffer a little bit until we find a country that will accept us and live. But that's doable. That's not death. That's not the same as abortion. That's not the same thing. I mean, it could be possible death, you know, in Iraq. It could be. But I'm just not willing to do that.
Like, I'm not willing to sacrifice my beliefs. Producer Becca Bressler, this episode was produced by Becca Bressler, Tracy Hunt, Matt Kielty, Tobin Low, Sakari Pat Walters with help from John Emotion's. Also, if you feel like you belong to a special voting bloc that has not been mentioned here or in the media anywhere, think about it. Come up with a name and send us the name of that block on Twitter, on Facebook, and maybe take this episode as a reminder that whatever happens in the next few days and weeks beneath the political parties.
Our people. Take me. Special thanks to Darren Samuelsohn, who is now a Business Insider, and the team at Politico, illustrator Josh Cochrane, whose 2016 map inspired this episode, Fernand Amandi, Tax Dodgers Susan Carroll, Lana Atkins and Jay Levy, Haraldur Okudzhava, Matt Katz, Veralyn Williams, Miss Pamela Nadege Green, Dale Barone, Vin Arseneau and Aaron Wicky Wikiwiki Wickenden. Thanks for listening.
Hi, this is Jake Alan calling from Winona, Minnesota. Radiolab was created by Jad Abumrad and edited by Sean Wheeler, William Miller and lots of nostro are co-hosts doing. Keith is our director of Sound Design. Susan Lichtenberg is our executive producer. Our staff includes Simon Adler, Jeremy Bloom, Rebecca Bressler, Rachel Kucik, David Gabal, Tracy Hunt, Matt Kielty, Tobin Loeb, Andy McKewon Sakari, Ariane Waak, Pat Walters and Molly Webster with help from Shimokawa OWI, Sarah Sandbrook and Johnny Means our fact checker is Michelle.