I Voted Trump, Part 3: What’s Changed For Trump Supporters After His 100 Days In Office?

May 1, 2017

At her home in North Philadelphia, Daphne Goggins proudly wears her Trump Pence T-shirt. Goggins said she first became a Republican in the 80’s when then Governor Ronald Reagan was running for president.
Credit Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

This past weekend, President Donald Trump marked his 100 days in office at a rally in Harrisburg. As part of our occasional series, "I Voted Trump," Keystone Crossroads checked in with Trump supporters across the state to see whether their views have changed.

Daphne Goggins is a mother, grandmother, community activist, and an avid social media user. She often posts updates about President Donald Trump to her followers on Facebook.

In many ways, Goggins represents a typical Trump supporter and says the president is a brilliant business man. She doesn't care that he hasn't released his tax returns, and believes the media scrutiny of president Trump has been unfair.

"There's no other way to describe it except dynamic," says Goggins of the president's first 100 days in office.

But for Goggins, a black Republican ward leader in North Philadelphia, there aren't many other Trump supporters in her neighborhood. During the campaign, when she hung a Trump Pence sign on her front porch, the next day it was gone. But Goggins didn't worry, she had dozens more to replace it.

So what's changed for Goggins during the first 100 days of the Trump presidency?

She said people in her community have become more receptive to her message about Trump.

"I know what's changed — the atmosphere," said Goggins. "A lot of people are coming up to me saying, 'I hear you.' That's what's up! You know what I tell them? 'You got a 401(k). Look at it!' Those are the things that really matter."

How the economy is doing is one of the top concerns for Trump supporters across the state.

Phil and Marian Spotts live in Waterford, near Erie. Phil worked in the insurance industry and Marian was a registered nurse. Even though they're both retired, they still run a few small businesses, including a construction company that builds fences, and a pick-your-own raspberry farm.

They have been keeping up with the Trump administration and so far Phil has not been impressed.

"I thought he was going to do a lot better than what's he's doing — than the results are and I don't know what to attribute that to except for the fact that he might have had a rather robust agenda and I think it was going to be difficult to achieve all that in 100 days," Phil said. "He's probably taken a bigger bite than what he can chew right now."

One agenda item that proved more challenging than expected was repealing and replacing Obamacare.

Seth Kaufer, a gastroenterologist and a Republican ward leader in south Philadelphia, was disappointed when the president's heath care agenda fizzled.

"I am a little upset about the health care situation we're in right now. So many of my patients, so many doctors, I know, so many people are still suffering with poor health care in our country. And that's really one of the things we need to improve," said Kaufer.

Despite the failure of the Republican health care bill, Kaufer is still hopeful his party will come up with a better solution.

Repealing Obamacare was also high on the list of priorities for Jessica Tirpak.

"Did I expect years and years of work to get done in 100 days? Absolutely not. However, I feel like every time I turn on the TV and see what we're doing and where he's at, I think, you know what, he's on the right track," said Tirpak.

She's a small business owner in Schuylkill County, and has been a die-hard Trump supporter from the start.

During the campaign, she dressed her youngest son, Hunter, as Baby Trump during one of his rallies in Wilkes Barre. Trump took Hunter into his arms and onto the stage. She said taking Hunter up on stage showed Trump as a family man.

She added that selecting his daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as close advisors also shows Trump's dedication to his family.

"His demeanor toward the little guy kinda showed like a family guy, a grandfather, a father. That's what I see when he brought them in. He didn't bring somebody in he just met through the campaign," said Tirpak. "So, I feel like it speaks to how family oriented he is."

But not all Trump voters are as passionate about the president.

"Emotionally, I'm not happy with the man," said Penny Stenger.

Stenger and her husband Tom live in the Lawrenceville neighborhood in Pittsburgh.

Originally, the Stengers supported Bernie Sanders for president. But on Election Day, Tom voted for Hillary Clinton and Penny voted for Trump. She's Catholic, pro-life, and says she regrets voting for the president.

"He's not invested with politicians and he's not working with people, working with the politicians to come to compromise to make things happen. He just kind of says this is the way it's going to go," said Stenger. "His team — oh my goodness — they're not qualified."

In Altoona, one of Pennsylvania's distressed cities, Republican Mayor Matt Pacifico says not much has changed since Trump took office.

Pacifico voted for Trump in hopes that he would fulfill his campaign promise of bringing jobs back to the region.

But with the release of the president's initial budget — and a threat to Community Development Block Grant funding — Pacifico's worried.

"We're already taking steps to reach out to our U.S. senators and congressmen and letting them know that that's something that Altoona relies on, not just for helping with housing projects and rehabilitations but with doing streetscape projects and paving roads in those low to moderate income areas. So there's a lot that that we do with that money and so it would be a shame to see that go away."

Pacifico also said as a first time elected official, his advice for President Trump hasn't changed.

"Grow thicker skin and stay off Twitter."

This was the third story in an occasional Keystone Crossroads series, "I Voted Trump," checking with Trump supporters throughout his presidency. Keystone Crossroads reporters Eleanor Klibanoff and Margaret Krauss contributed reporting. Check out the first and second installment.