The Trump Voters Who Are Sick of Trump (Ep. 2) | Crooked Media
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May 26, 2024
The Wilderness
The Trump Voters Who Are Sick of Trump (Ep. 2)

In This Episode

Jon is joined by longtime pollster Sarah Longwell and former Republican strategist Tim Miller to get inside the minds of two-time Trump voters who are no longer sure if they’ll vote for him again. What’s changed? Well, January 6th, a few criminal trials, and some obviously bogus claims that the election was stolen. But is that enough to get them over the line for Joe Biden? Jon, Tim, and Sarah listen to a focus group tape of these voters to figure out how they’re leaning in 2024 and then Ben Wikler, Chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, joins to help teach you how to persuade the Biden-curious Trump voter in your life.






[clip of Ben Wikler] They are, in a sense, January 6th Republicans. People who may have been staunch Republicans for a long time. They may have voted for Trump twice, but now they have this deep feeling that he’s crossed the line, that he’s lost it, that he is broken with them in a way that they can never accept again. 


Jon Favreau: You may recognize that voice as Ben Wikler, chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party and one of the country’s best political organizers. I called up Ben earlier this week so we could talk about a group of people who may decide the election in Wisconsin and all across America, Trump voters who no longer like Trump. Of course, in a close election, there are many groups of voters who could decide the outcome. And we’ll be talking to a lot of them over the next few months. Black voters, Hispanic voters, young voters, people who aren’t even sure if they’re going to vote at all. The anti-Trump coalition we’re building has to include as many voters as possible, whoever they are, wherever we can find them. In 2020, a small percentage of people who voted for Trump in 2016 switched to Joe Biden. And that made all the difference in a state like Wisconsin, that was decided by about 20,000 votes. In 2024, not only do we have to keep these voters, we also have an opportunity to pick up some two time Trump voters who just don’t think they can bring themselves to support him, again, for all kinds of reasons. 


[clip of Ben Wikler] There are different flavors of soft Republicans, different types of folks. [music starts playing] They’re often very different from most swing voters. They’re often high information voters. There’s a lot of military veterans and military families, like people who, you know, put their lives on the line and wrapped their whole family around service to this country who feel a sense of deep betrayal from Trump, both from January 6th and what he said about our troops. There are some voters who are Dobbs voters who voted Republican for economic reasons, but they don’t like the idea of the government making private medical decisions in their families. The voters who have made it a part of their identity, that they’re Republicans and now walk away. These are people for whom it’s often a big deal, it’s a big deal in their kind of soul and in their lives that they’ve decided that he’s he’s gone too far and that they can’t go there with him. 


Jon Favreau: I realize that for some of you, it might be hard to understand this kind of voter. How is it worth our time and energy to persuade people who might want to vote for Donald Trump again, after all that he said and done over the last eight years? But remember, these aren’t MAGA diehards. They aren’t going to Trump rallies and posting crazy shit online. They are genuinely wrestling with the decision. We don’t have to understand why they voted for Trump. We just have to convince them not to do it again. Maybe you have one of those voters in your life, a family member or a neighbor. Maybe you don’t know anyone like this, but if you volunteer, you might end up talking to one of those gettable Trump voters. So in this episode, we’re going to help you figure out what to say and how to say it. And to do that, we’ve brought in my two favorite Never Trump pals, former Republican strategist Tim Miller and longtime Republican pollster Sarah Longwell, who’s constantly doing focus groups with these voters as part of a project she runs called Republican Voters Against Trump. You’ll hear our conversation next and then Ben Wikler will help us wrap things up with more advice about what it will take to get these Biden curious Trump voters off the fence. Let’s get into it. [music break] I’m Jon Favreau. Welcome to The Wilderness. All right. Excited to kick things off with my two favorite Never Trumper pals and two of the smartest political nerds I know, Sarah Longwell and Tim Miller. Hey, guys. 


Sarah Longwell: Thanks for having me. 


Tim Miller: What’s up?


Jon Favreau: Yeah, thanks for doing this. Obviously, we all have a lot of work to do with a lot of different groups of voters who aren’t yet sold on uh casting a ballot for Joe Biden. But today, we’re focusing on a group that’s near and dear to your heart, Republicans and Trump voters who don’t like Trump. So you guys talk about these voters all the time on your various Bulwark pods. Sarah, you’re hearing from these voters in focus groups as part of a separate campaign you’re running called Republican Voters Against Trump. Can you start by talking a bit about that campaign and what your strategy is? 


Sarah Longwell: Yeah. Look, we did this campaign in 2020. When it came to the center right, right leaning independents, soft GOP voters, getting them to not vote for Trump and vote for Biden. It wasn’t enough to do these kind of hard hitting ads that went viral on Twitter. In fact, Twitter virality is often inversely correlated to actual persuasion of your target audience. Because if a bunch of progressives are smashing the share button, there’s a pretty good chance that it doesn’t land uh persuasively with swing voters. And so we were really trying to figure out what would move, because we heard from so many voters who were Republicans and didn’t like Trump and didn’t want to vote for him again, but they just they weren’t Democrats, and they didn’t quite know how to get over the tribal hurdle of voting for a Democrat. And when it comes to trust with voters, one of the other things you heard very clearly was they didn’t trust any institution. Uh. They didn’t trust Democratic messengers. They trusted people like them. That was their main, trusted source of information. And so we went and found people like them, Republican voters who weren’t going to vote for Trump. And we got them to make little video testimonials explaining why. And so they just hold up the phone and they’d say, I’m John from Texas and because I’m a Christian, I cannot vote for Donald Trump again. And they talk about why. And the ones that actually were the most persuasive were the ones where the person would talk about why it was hard for them to vote for Joe Biden, but they were going to do it like the more difficult it was for them, the more persuasive it was, because that’s what a lot of Republicans were doing. They were grappling with it. And so we took these testimonials. We turned them into TV ads, into radio ads, into digital ads, into billboards. And we create these surround sound campaigns where you don’t just see one voter saying it. One of the I think the things that really work about this campaign is that we have hundreds of voters who, uh and in 2024 we’re focused on people who voted for Trump twice. Um. Or at least have voted for him uh once, but really voted for him twice, explaining why they can’t vote for him again, because you are trying to peel off voters who have voted for this guy twice, but because of the coup, because of January 6th, maybe because of abortion, they refuse to do it again. And even if they just leave it blank, that’s okay. We are trying to diminish enthusiasm and pull people off. Um. So that’s the campaign. 


Jon Favreau: Tim, do you have a sense of who these voters are demographically? Where these voters are? And can you explain to all the uh, potentially skeptical libs out there why these voters are worth trying to win over? 


Tim Miller: Well, I’d start by saying our voters are the ones that are the most solid at this point. So, you know, I’m glad you’re having us on The Wilderness, but we really need to do more work with young voters, working class Black and Hispanic voters. If you just look at the numbers, I was just looking at analysis right before I got on. And right now again, and some of this is a little fuzzy because of polls. But like you know, directionally speaking, if Biden is doing a little bit better among rural voters than he was in 2020, a lot of these are some of the people Sarah was just, I think, referencing, which are maybe two time Trump voters that are not evangelical Christians, that are not Fox News watchers, that rural communities like being for Trump is just sort of part of the water they swim in. I’m stealing a Sarah phrase there, and the abortion thing really matters to them. A lot of these people are women. Um. Uh. But not all. And they can be moved, you know, off of Trump. Some of these are the infamous Obama Trump voters, and we’re moving them back, you know, over abortion. Right? So that’s one category of people that I think get underappreciated in the media. The other category of people who Biden’s lost a little bit of ground with is suburban, college educated voters. That’s more of the, you know, me and Sarah types, the Mitt Romney Biden voter, as opposed to the Obama Trump voter and the Mitt Romney Biden voter um huge gain with them. The increase offset is why Biden won, frankly, it’s like the Atlanta suburbs and turnout among Black voters. If you just look at Georgia, right, why did Biden win Georgia and Hillary didn’t? Well, did better among Black voters, did better in suburban Atlanta. Like it’s like that’s simple. It’s not like these are new people that appeared out of nowhere. They are people that used to vote for Republicans and switched. And so those are kind of the two groups that are in our bailiwick. 


Jon Favreau: I wanted to talk about that because I do think there’s there’s a couple categories of soft Republicans that we’re talking about here. They’re sort of the Romney Clinton or, you know, Trump Biden voters. 


Tim Miller: Romney, Gary Johnson, Biden types? 


Jon Favreau: Right. Yeah. That whole type. 


Tim Miller: Yeah. 


Jon Favreau: And then we’re going to talk more about the two time Trump voters who are considering maybe not voting for him in in ’24. Sarah, how much backsliding are you worried about with the specifically the Trump Biden voters, the people who switched over to Biden in 2020? 


Sarah Longwell: I’m super worried about it. Uh I hear it in every group, it’s not the majority of people in every group. But let’s say we just did this. So we had a group last week and five of them we’re going to stick with Biden and three were going back to Trump or they were kind of RFK curious. I will say it’s not just that they’re going back to Trump. It’s more that they are turned off from Biden like they got there for him in 2020 and they can’t get back there. And this is why, you know, when I talk about the persuadables this time around, I talk so much about the double haters, because the double haters can be across all kinds of demographics. 


Jon Favreau: Right. 


Sarah Longwell: But a lot of them are these sort of uh Trump to Biden voters who took a flier on Biden because they really didn’t want to go with Trump again, but now they’re mad at Biden after four years of Biden because they’re not Democrats. So that’s why they’re more like they a lot of them are these RFK curious, uh types. And that’s okay. If there are people who were going to vote for Trump and they vote for RFK, it is bad. If you could get them there on Biden and they’re going to go for RFK, because as I talk about all the time, the biggest coalition in American politics is the anti-Trump coalition. It’s not a pro-Joe Biden coalition. It’s an anti-Trump coalition. And anything that splits the anti-Trump coalition is bad. But if RFK is going to be in this race, you better make it work for you, because there are a lot of natural overlaps between RFK curious voters and people who were willing to vote for Trump because he’s not a regular politician. Um. But are now kind of out on Trump. 


Jon Favreau: Is there a difference between or how much of a difference is there between the Trump Biden voters who are now thinking of going back to Trump and the two time Trump voters who are like, I might be moving on from Trump altogether? 


Sarah Longwell: They’re not that different actually. The two time Trump voters who are out on Trump are just people we just didn’t get over the line in 2020. 


Jon Favreau: Got it. 


Sarah Longwell: They always were holding their nose voting for Trump. And like their line just happened to be January 6th and the coup attempt. 


Tim Miller: My dad, finally got him over the line in 2021. So there’s one. 


Jon Favreau: Okay, there we go. Your dad. 


Tim Miller: Okay. That’s a one person focus group. Hey, dad. 


Sarah Longwell: And actually, let me tell you about this group because it’s a little counterintuitive. They are old and they are white, and they are Ronald Reagan Republicans who came for a different reason, who they do care about the consti– it’s funny because people don’t care about democracy per se. But like Donald Trump’s coup attempt matters a great deal to these voters. And it is a nonstarter. And even if you can’t get them there on Joe Biden. I’m going to bet that one of the things we see as a trend in 2024 is a shocking number of people leaving the top of the ticket blank, from these Republicans who just refused to vote for Trump but can’t get there on Biden. And if they were two time Trump voters, that’s good. 


Jon Favreau: Yeah. Well, let’s talk about these two time Trump voters who are now pretty down on Trump. Uh. You’ve done several focus groups with these voters, as you mentioned, one of the most common reasons they’re questioning their support for Trump is January 6th. Um. Let’s listen to what one group of two time Trump voters said about that. 


[clip of unnamed Trump voter number 1] I think he, you know, really kind of got off on the whole situation. 


[clip of unnamed Trump voter number 2] That he had to be convinced later in the day to even issue a statement about it um just made my blood boil. And do I think a lot was made out of out of what actually happened in the building? I do think a lot was, was was exaggerated about what happened in the building. But they were concentrating on a couple events. I mean, people died one way or the other, they died. I don’t care how they died. 


[clip of unnamed Trump voter number 3] I just think there’s so much more he could have done on that day. You know, to kind of, you know, I think we’ve said it before to be the adult in the room to try to calm things down. I think, you know, the large majority of the people that, you know, stormed the Capitol that day probably, I think would have listened to him. Um. You know, but that being said, I do think the coverage of it was, you know, over the top. 


[clip of unnamed Trump voter number 4] It was Trump’s responsibility to stop that, that kind of mob mentality that that pushed forward. Um. But on the other hand, I also blame a lot of the media for portraying the events as they did. 


Tim Miller: Definitely a Republican group. 


Jon Favreau: Yeah. No, I know. 


Tim Miller: No doubt. 


Jon Favreau: So like you can be mad at Trump for how he acted on January 6th. Even as you might think, the media exaggerated its importance as some of these people did. Or you can be so mad that you think it makes Trump unfit to ever hold office again. What’s your sense of whether the salience of January 6th can become a deciding issue for these two time Trump voters? 


Sarah Longwell: I think it can be. Here’s one of the key elements of January 6th. It happened after they voted for him the second time. Right? So they don’t have to go back and say I was wrong. Like with the information they had, they felt like they made the choice. This is new information since they voted for him last time. And I think that one of the things right now, in like this very moment, that is a struggle for really getting those people to get their blood back up against Trump, is that him being in court talking about Stormy Daniels is incredibly backward looking. I’m not saying it helps him the way some people do. I’m just saying that it is not allowing people to look forward. And what you need is to sort of take January 6th as your jumping off point. Then you need to paint a picture of the future of Donald Trump, a lunatic surrounded by lunatics. But January 6th has to be at the center of why you cannot trust this guy in office again, because there are a lot of people for whom, when they see that footage and when that salience is high for them, they go, oh yeah, I can’t do it again. [music break]




Jon Favreau: Tim, I was going to ask you that too, because you hear from a lot of like pundits and pollsters, especially Democrats, who say that, you know, January 6th is backwards looking and it’s already baked into people’s views about Trump. And what most people care about is the future and what’s going to affect them. Like, how do you make Trump’s actions on January 6th an issue that is something that could affect people’s lives in the future if he wins again? 


Tim Miller: Just really quick though, I think this offers a psychological misunderstanding of these voters. These people just want to have excuses to come back home to being Republicans. Like, these are Republicans. They watch Fox, obviously, as you can tell uh by that group, we can get into a little bit of their media diet more, I think. But um they though when they get reminded of things about Trump that make their blood boil, like it moves them again, like they have to get re reminded and I like I’ve lived through this for eight years. I’ve lived through this for nine years. Like people in my life will like message me when he does something terrible. He’s like, that’s it, I’m done. I’m sick of it. You were right. Like, I don’t get you were right as much as I would like. 


Jon Favreau: In your head that’s what they’re saying. Yeah. 


Tim Miller: Yeah. The subtext was that I was right. Yeah. And then a couple weeks go by, something else happens. They go to the grocery store. Butter is costing a lot, they get annoyed. And, like, they’re back, you know what I mean? They’re back to, like, not liking Trump. Like, these aren’t MAGA people, but they’re back to like, oh, well, the Democrats and socialism and all that. So yeah, you have to be constantly reminding them about why they hate him. Like he’s got to be in their face. And um, I think this was a big difference in ’16, you know, in ’16, he was like out of their face the last two weeks because of Hillary, you know, the emails. And, you know, we don’t need to trigger everybody with that. So I think that just using opportunities to remind people of the nature of the threat of him, but also about what they hate about him, some of that can be future looking, right? Some of that can be like, remember that thing you really don’t like? Like that could happen again. Something similar to that could happen again, that could have a real impact on your life. Um like I think that that is worthwhile in doing. I understand why, like logically, you’re like, why would you do an ad about January 6th on Halloween of 2024? But it’s like the people they need to be triggered. We got to trigger them into not voting for him. 


Jon Favreau: Yeah. It makes me think of, you know, in that long interview with The New Yorker, Mike Donilon, who’s Biden’s chief strategist, said, you know, it’s all about like, what you want people to have in their mind when they go to the polls. And we want them to have–


Tim Miller: Yes. 


Jon Favreau: –Dobbs and democracy, January 6th in mind as they go to the polls. 


Tim Miller: Yeah. 


Jon Favreau: Sarah, do you agree with that? 


Sarah Longwell: I 100% agree. And I talk about this with abortion a lot. Look, when we do the focus groups we always open with the same question. How do you think things are going in the country? And people are just like bad. And they talk about inflation and they talk about the price of their houses, and they talk about crime and they talk about immigration. And then you ask about abortion. And all of the sudden I was it happens every time, especially the women in the group. Suddenly people are talking about the abortions that they had. They’re talking about their own catastrophic pregnancy. They are crying and bonding with one another. And you’re like, make abortion, put it at the top of their minds. The salience of these things, the salience of January 6th, the salience of reproductive rights. If you take your foot off that, if you let this be about Biden and you let it be about the economy, even if the economy is good, like that is not good for Biden. If you make it about Trump, if you make it about abortion, if you make it about January 6th, and you raise the salience of those things so that that’s what people are thinking about when they go into the voting booth, like, I just we just can’t have that again. That’s where you got to get people. 


Jon Favreau: Yeah. So the issue that precipitated January 6th is uh Trump’s attempt to overturn a free and fair election that uh, he still says he won, even says he won states like uh Minnesota that Joe Biden won by 7%. Sarah, you guys have done groups with uh two time Trump voters who don’t believe the election was fraudulent. Let’s listen. 


[clip of unnamed Trump voter number 5] Maybe this is a bit cynical or a lot cynical, uh that at a federal election level, we’ve been doing this for 200 years, and we’ve been, people been, dead people have been voting for more than 200 years. And I don’t know that that’s going to change ever, to be blunt. But you got to show a driver’s license or not or whatever the technology leads us to in that regard. So I think there’s always some amount, but I don’t think it was enough to swing at any particular state, maybe a precinct, maybe even a municipality. Uh. But I don’t think enough to change the election itself. 


[clip of unnamed Trump voter number 6] There’s always some votes that show up bundled, or people get a couple of copies of a, of mail in or what have you. Um. I think that’s I don’t think that’s fraud. I think that’s just bureaucracy. That’s just what happens. Uh. We’re not very good at that. Nobody is, um all the paperwork. So I don’t think there was an effort to throw the election, and, I don’t think there was enough that did throw the election. 


[clip of unnamed Trump voter number 7] It was like 62, I think different lawsuits to prove that um, there was something wrong with the elections and he lost them all. So he there was no evidence. There was only evidence of him tinkering around and trying to do illegal things to um change. You know, I need 11,780 votes. There’s always a little bit of, I don’t know if it’s on purpose or if it’s mistakes or if it’s whatever, and but the number was so small, it was something like 0.002%. That happens all the time. 


[clip of unnamed Trump voter number 8] I think they will involve a challenge to all elections in the future. And I also believe that groups of individual citizens will always strive to disrupt the certification of the elections, because it’s proven that that can be tested. And the only mistake that they made was they didn’t have enough uh military might to go in and actually um make it more severe. 


Jon Favreau: Yikes. Um. So it seems from the polling that there’s roughly 30% of Republican voters who believe the truth about the election that Joe Biden won. Tim, similar to what I asked about January 6th. Well, I guess what I want to know is like, do you think those both those issues are just the same January 6th and uh him trying to overturn the election in the minds of these voters or like, how would you make that a big issue for people, or do you think it will be a big issue for people? The idea that he continues to say that he won the election. 


Tim Miller: Yeah, I think that this is more of um you know, affect than cause, it’s sort of a inverse. I don’t know that, like, him talking about it matters more, but these voters reveal themselves as potentially gettable, right? Like the people that believe that it that the truth about the election, um I think are a ripe target for Biden, at very least to to get them off of Trump. And then I think that, you know, the democracy and the January 6th elements are arguments that you can use with those groups. I love hearing that because 30%, like on one hand, it’s like shockingly low, right? 30% of Republicans believe the truth about the election. That’s like pretty alarming. That’s a ton of people. 


Jon Favreau: Right. 


Tim Miller: That’s like 30 million people. Right? And and so I love hearing from these groups. It’s a reminder. It’s like, oh yeah, here are people that believe that bureaucracy is bloated. Dead people vote. There are a lot of fraud in elections. But, Donald Trump’s still a liar, right? Like you don’t think about that person in your mind’s eye, right? The person you’re thinking about is either like, I think Donald Trump’s a liar or I’m wearing the red hat and, like, listening to Maria Bartiromo, right. And so, like that type of person, I think if you keep them in your mind’s eye, they can be persuaded on this stuff because they’ve lost trust in him and at minimum, they can be moved off of him into this anti-Trump coalition. Sarah is talking about that, I think that then there’s some other challenges, really, to how you can then persuade them, conceivably to come to the other side. 


Jon Favreau: Sarah, what else have you heard from these voters about how they view the salience of Trump’s election lies? 


Sarah Longwell: Yeah, well, I’ve been obsessed with this 30%, both the number, because it shows up in other places, like a lot of the polls that ask, would you vote differently? Would it impact your vote if Trump’s convicted of a crime? Among self-id’d Republicans, roughly 30% in states where Nikki Haley was actively contesting the election. So if I did Republican, she was getting about 30% of the vote. So, like, those are the persuadable people. So I live with these people in my head. Who are they? What do they think? And as I was digging in on the election stuff in particular, you know, it’s a little disheartening because you sort of wanted to hear for them say, yeah, this guy’s insane. And of course, the election was free and fair, but like, that’s not what they say. They say dead people vote. Of course there’s fraud, but they basically say, like, not enough to really uh turn these over. But what was interesting is that this 30% of people or these people who don’t think it was stolen, have some few things in common. One, they’ve got a diverse media mix that they ingest, and by diverse media mix, I don’t mean Fox News and then Steve Bannon and then, you know, Tim Pool, I mean, that they they flip around from Fox and CNN and their local news and local news is really big. And like one of the things we’ve just found is people who are in this persuadable category tend to be less plugged in to cable and a little more plugged in to their local um channels, and like, what’s going on in their in their home state, which as an advertising opportunity. Like, I think about that when I think about how to reach, these folks. The other thing that’s jumped out is that if they really believe the election was free and fair, they tended to have either proximity to people who worked on elections, like they’re like, I know somebody who worked on the election. One guy was in Maricopa County. He’d worked on the election himself, or they’d had states with these recounts, uh this ones where they’d had a ton of recounts which are in the contested swing states. They were like, I don’t know. They looked at this 100 times. There was no fraud. Nobody could find it. The the Cyber Ninjas didn’t catch anybody. The bamboo wasn’t there. And so they’re like, I think that it was fine. And then the third thing that was interesting about them is they just had a higher level of trust in the system overall. They tended to talk about checks and balances like, I don’t know, this is America and we do elections, okay. And uh probably aren’t switching the votes with the machines Um. And so that is sort of something that they all have in common. That, I think is an interesting picture of who our voter is to persuade. 


Jon Favreau: I saw you quoted in this Bloomberg piece this week about the possibility of Trump serving a third term, or maybe forever. And that that’s something that’s coming up in different focus groups that different people are doing from undecided voters who are actually that’s like one of their big concerns that either he’ll stay forever or they’ll be a Trump family monarchy. And we’ll be doing this till til barons president. Um. Do you, what’s your sense of how salient that could be as an argument, how effective that could be? 


Sarah Longwell: Yeah. I mean, because people are I mean, it is coming up in groups where they’re just like, I’m not sure he’ll leave or like, he might run again, but like, and sometimes there’s actually some people who say that and it doesn’t matter that much to them. Like it’s fine. 


Tim Miller: Yeah, they’re like good. 


Sarah Longwell: You’re like, okay and and cool, Trump forever. But for a lot of people, this idea of he won’t leave, he won’t abide by the rules matters. And that is a January 6th argument. And this is this is what I mean about like January 6th salience. It’s not just about the January 6th. It’s not just about the visuals of the cops getting hit. And things we’ve seen sort of over and over again, it’s this is the kind of guy he is. He is a lunatic who will be surrounded by other lunatics and he won’t leave. And you tell people that and they’re like, yeah, that’s that’d be a real problem uh [laugh] if he just didn’t leave. Maybe I shouldn’t vote him in?


Jon Favreau: Yeah. I mean, it sounds like, like liberal alarmism to be like, oh, God, this could be your last election and the last time you get to vote, and he’ll be there forever. But it it does feel like A, it has the benefit of being potentially true. Uh.  And B, we do have some evidence that he tried to do that last time. What do you think, Tim? 


Tim Miller: Yeah, I like and this is where I think the RVAT that project’s important, having this come from regular people’s voices rather than like, Barack Obama’s spokesperson. I don’t I probably don’t think you’re that compelling of a messenger. We won’t want to put you on TV in Maricopa County. 


Jon Favreau: Damn. 


Tim Miller: Uh. Excuse me. Speechwriter. Sorry. That was Tommy. 


Jon Favreau: Yeah what the fuck? [laugh]


Tim Miller: It was Tommy [?] my bad. [laughter] Uh. So I think messenger matters here. And I, you know. I think that a compelling persuasion message is more like risky. It’s like, think about how Nikki Haley talked about this, chaos. Risky. Like, maybe stay. I don’t like isn’t the fact that we’re talking about this ridiculous. 


Jon Favreau: Yeah. [laugh]


Tim Miller: That you might be worried about this? Like, isn’t this a risk that’s not worth taking? And so I think if you kind of combine that with maybe somewhere in their periphery, they like, they’re seeing, uh ads on social media that feature Donald Trump making jokes about this that, like, sticks in their head. I think that could be a potent kind of one two combo to try to just make the pitch to these voters that this isn’t worth the risk and make it really back to being an election about Trump, right? Not like a choice, not a Biden Trump choice election. And I think that also goes back to the salience. 


Sarah Longwell: And not democracy. Like–


Tim Miller: Yeah. 


Sarah Longwell: Saying democracy doesn’t mean anything to people, but like dude won’t leave means something to people. 


Tim Miller: Risky. 


Sarah Longwell: Like they get that. Yeah.


Tim Miller: Like we might yeah, the Capitol might get charged. Like, who knows? Like he might put his family in charge of the military. Like you just don’t know, like risky. Like it’s just like, is this worth it, right? Like–


Jon Favreau: Yeah. 


Tim Miller: –less than these, you know, high minded principles. You know, Jon Meacham, I love Jon Meacham, but, you know. 


Jon Favreau: Yeah. No, I don’t think he, I don’t think he’s going to be a persuasive messenger to these voters either. 


Tim Miller: No. 


Jon Favreau: All right. So we are, we are on the verge of a verdict in what may be the uh only Trump criminal trial that happens before the election. Polling suggests that most voters aren’t paying close attention. And the fact of Trump being on trial for felony charges hasn’t really changed many opinions. Uh. Though there’s also a good deal of polling that suggests that may change if he’s found guilty. Uh. Sarah, you guys asked some Trump voters who supported Nikki Haley in the primary about these trials. Let’s hear what they had to say. 


[clip of unnamed Trump voter number 9] The most damaging case will be the trying to over throw the election. That is hard to prove so, but all the other cases are just overreaching. I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere. And I don’t think you’re going to get a conviction. That just’s a waste of taxpayer money. 


[clip of unnamed Trump voter number 10] When he became president, there were Democrats in Congress saying they wanted to impeach him before he’d even served one day in office. And there’s been nothing, um short of of that effort to um, you know, muddy the waters and and make him look bad from the very beginning. U. Of all the, the cases, the one that I think probably is the most serious is the classified documents one. But then Biden had classified documents, and even Pence ended up with [?] saying, oh, wait, I found one in my house too. Which just makes me think they’re all rather careless. 


[clip of unnamed Trump voter number 11] It seems to me like, liberals in the country are saying Donald Trump’s a criminal. Let’s find a crime to pin him with. Let’s throw all this stuff against the wall and see what sticks. Um. Yes, I think it’s all it’s all politically motivated. Clearly, you look at the platforms of the state prosecutors and the attorney generals who ran and won and who ended up prosecuting him. That was their platform. I’m going to get Trump. Vote me in. I’m going to get Trump. 


Tim Miller: I don’t know how you do this, Sarah. [laughter] I just I honor you every day. 


Sarah Longwell: Kid and I love it.


Jon Favreau: I do too. I think it’s so fascinating. [laughing] Um. All right, let’s say– 


Tim Miller: My blood pressure is going up 20 points in the last minute. I can feel it. 


Jon Favreau: Let’s let’s live in a, a wonderful world where um Trump is found guilty in the Manhattan case. We got a convicted felon running for president. Is that not an argument we should be making to those undecided voters? Like, what do you guys think? 


Sarah Longwell: 100%. 100%. And here’s the people are doing a weird thing right now. So first of all, if he is acquitted, it is an actual disaster, like the–


Jon Favreau: Yeah. 


Sarah Longwell: –downside of acquittal, so much bigger than upside of a conviction. Uh. Which is just the terrible world that we live in. However, a conviction matters. Uh. And one of the things that I I’m kind of pushing people on, on TV, there’s this, like, way that people say, well, you know, this is all just helping Trump. It all helps Trump. If he even if he’s convicted, it helps Trump’s– that’s primary analysis. Yes. With base voters, this stuff who think that it is rigged, who thinks it’s a two tier justice system and thinks that they’re out to get Trump. Helps them. Those people are all going to vote for Trump anyway. Doesn’t matter. These swing voters and the people who are on the fence who have to hold their nose, him being a convicted felon will matter and does matter. And uh, look, you can tell me that it’s marginal and I’ll tell you cool. Because margins are going to decide this entire ballgame. So I’ll take marginal as a marginal effect. 


Jon Favreau: Yeah. Tim, what do you think? 


Tim Miller: I got no fucking idea. [laughter] I honestly just don’t I don’t know, it’s not what I’m supposed to do, but I just I don’t know. I’ve got no idea. I could see it making a difference. I could see it not. These voters don’t know either. Right. Like the focus groups actually don’t tell us anything on this really. And it you learn a little bit about how they think, which I think is important. But like the specific question, like you heard that guy, he was like, I don’t even think he’s going to be convicted. So like, what does that what does it, do they do any of them again, not the MAGAS. Do any of the people that have a media mix, most of these folks are college educated, you know, like the types, most people have people in their lives that are not Republican. Like, does that group, do any of them start to see him differently when he’s a felon? Start to think about it differently? Maybe. I don’t know, maybe not. Like I really I think it’s very hard to say. And uh, it’s annoying. It’s frustrating. I mean, you know, and there was some really damning testimony here. 


Jon Favreau: Yeah. 


Tim Miller: In this thing, like, about how Stormy Daniels talking about how he, like, essentially coerced her into sex with a security guard standing outside, like you would think people would not want that person to be president. But um, I don’t know. I don’t think we’ve a lot of evidence of that at this point. 


Jon Favreau: But part of this is he’s, lets say that there’s a guilty verdict. It’s all over the news for a couple days. It even filters down to to local news. Right. It breaks through everywhere. 


Tim Miller: Sure. 


Jon Favreau: And then the question is, do Democratic campaigns, does Sarah’s campaign to other groups, do you keep pushing that message to keep reminding people of it between now and November? Because then by September it’s like, oh yeah, he’s just a he’s just a convicted felon. But we don’t really talk about that anymore because we’ve all moved on. And that’s sort of the question that I have. Sarah, what do you think? 


Sarah Longwell: Well, we would be making a mistake if we failed to mention. If he’s a convicted felon and we’re not talking about that, that’s on us. Um. You absolutely should be talking about it. Joe Biden should be talking about it. A lot of good material in this guy. A lot of orange jokes, orange jumpsuits. So, I mean, I’m just there’s– 


Tim Miller: Spit balling. 


Sarah Longwell: –you and and yeah, but that they, that being able to. And again, this is why I go to like, the acquittal is so much worse like a conviction, it does give you something to push. And also get this guy out of the courtroom, get him out there so that he is in people’s faces. Tim was talking about this before. I also think it’s very important that Trump be high salience. Uh. Because if it’s a referendum on Biden, Biden loses. If it’s a referendum on Trump, Trump loses. And so we got to get Trump talking to us. The media has got to cover him. They got to take uh the insane things that he’s saying at these uh Trump rallies live. Uh. But get him out of court with a conviction. Um. And he will be he’ll be nuts about it. He will be so upset and then push him on it all the time. Um. I do think it matters to these marginal swing voters who are not paying attention. Listen, here’s the thing about this. This is this is what I was going to disagree with Tim about. Nobody’s following this case. 


Tim Miller: Yeah. 


Sarah Longwell: The court stuff. I mean, they’re just like. And they can’t follow it. They don’t know who these people are. They don’t know the characters. I mean, unless you’re obsess– and and because they can’t see what’s happening in the courtroom, they’re getting the stuff filtered. And so one of like the most interesting I was talking to a group the other day, and the woman was talking about how well, I turn on Fox, and I think the case is going to get thrown out. And then I turn on ABC and Trump’s going to jail. And like, she’s like, what is even happening here? What’s going on? Because they’re getting it through these media filters. And so I think that people still trust the courts and jury of your peers more than they trust other things. I’m not saying it’s like the highest thing, but they trust it. And to say a jury of his peers convicted him of this on top of the E. Jean Carroll stuff. But this is like a real, uh you know, that was a civil case. This is a criminal case. And so, like, I just think it matters. I do I think it again, not to everybody, but you are talking about 10,000 votes one way or the other across six states. 


Jon Favreau: Yeah. Before we move on from this group. These were voters who cast their ballots for Nikki Haley in the primary. There’s been a lot of excitement, uh in the anti-Trump universe about, uh the you know, even after she dropped out, she’s still getting like 15, 20% in some places in some of these primaries. What’s your sense of, okay, some of these voters could just be I mean, there’s the like, yeah, Democrats just voted in the Republican primary. There’s also, you know, a lot of these voters could just be Republicans who already voted for Joe Biden in 2020. Um. And so they’re just, you know, continuing uh, with, with just voting against Trump, what’s your sense of like, how many are truly just like maybe these two time Trump voters who were like potentially done with him and that was there and there’s the signal for that is that they were voting for Nikki Haley in the primary?


Sarah Longwell: Tim and I sort of disagree on this. Um.


Jon Favreau: Okay. Great. 


Sarah Longwell: But we’ve been fighting about this on our show for a while, and here here’s what I’ll say. Look, in that Nikki Haley cohort, there are people who already voted for Joe Biden. There are people who are going to go home to Trump, and the rest are the double haters, right, that you were trying to get make them hate Trump more than they hate Biden? Um. Right. And that’s who you’re fighting over. Here’s what I have found encouraging about it is that in these states where they are closed primaries, meaning that, you know, libs can’t vote in them, there were people who are motivated enough. Nikki Haley is not on the ballot and hasn’t been on it or she’s on it technically, but she hasn’t been in the race for months and people are getting up to go out and vote against Trump. They’re not voting for Nikki Haley. This is not a pro Nikki Haley coalition. They care enough to go vote against Donald Trump. And I think that that expresses something about enthusiasm, uh meaning sort of enthusiasm against Trump. And I think that that matters. I have found that encouraging. I don’t think that every person in that cohort, um you can just be like, ooh, well, this means 150,000 people in Pennsylvania. Uh. You know, we’ve got our lock on. Um. But I do think it matters. 


Tim Miller: Yeah. I’m just I’m just not as excited about this as everybody else. I’m sorry, I don’t I hate to be the Debbie Downer. Um. There’s some good part. Here’s the good part about it. And this is what I’m saying. Our people are solid. My people, Sarah’s people, like the the college educated, highly engaged, reading the news, anti-Trump Republicans, most of them already voted against him in 2020. Most of them have been turning out to vote against Kari Lake and Blake Masters and Doug Mastriano in the midterms. And they’re also and they’re turning up again to vote against Donald Trump in the primary. And so like, that’s good news. Like there is like one of the most highly engaged demos against Donald Trump is our people. So our so like our people do matter. Um. In that sense, I just like the number isn’t as big as it seems, right? Like so when you look at that 20%, it’s like, well, that’s not 20% of the whole Republican electorate. That’s 20% of the people that turned out. 


Jon Favreau: Right. 


Tim Miller: Right? And and as Sarah said, the anti-Trump Republicans are very excited to turn out. So our people are turning out at a disproportionate rate. Um. And many of them already voted for Joe Biden. Many of them already voted for Democrats in the midterms. Um. And so that’s a good thing that they’re still motivated, right? It could be worse, right? They could be not not motivated, they could be mad about Joe Biden because of student loan bailout or whatever. They could be mad, you know, that Joe Biden hasn’t been nicer to Bibi or whatever and not turning out anymore. So it’s good news that they’re still engaged. Um. But uh, it’s just not quite as good news as it might like seem on its face. I think that there are other people, there are double haters in there, there are people that voted for Trump twice in there that are gettable. I think that Joe Biden, um like, like has this awesome now group in all these states of anyone that voted by mail, you know, okay, we now know that these are rational people. You know, like if you looked at Pennsylvania, it was crazy. Like Nikki Haley got like tied among the male voters and then lost 90 to 10 on Election day, you know, so now we know, you know, if you look at who requested a mail ballot, like that’s somebody that Joe Biden people can go knock on their door and think that these people, you know, don’t believe that Hugo Chavez and like the pillow man, you know, stole the, you know, like were part of a plot to steal the election. So that’s good. Um. So there’s some good parts. It’s just not quite as good as I think that maybe it’s made out to be. [music break]




Jon Favreau: All right. Let’s wrap up with um how to actually communicate with these gettable two time Trump voters. Um. We’ve been talking a little bit about media diet and how that differentiates them. Um. Let’s play a clip of uh one of the groups talking about their media diet. 


[clip of unnamed Trump voter number 12] I don’t have a single source. I don’t really trust anybody. Um. Usually what happens is I’ll I’ll either hear of something. I’ve deleted all of my social media because I’m just I’m tired of algorithmic news. And so if I hear something, I’ll look up, you know, information about it and try to get multiple sources because it’s there’s usually a spin in one way or the other. And so the truth is somewhere in between there. 


[clip of unnamed Trump voter number 13] Primarily NPR. Um. But I switch between different channels and just comparing news. So I know that some are media are leaning toward Republicans, some leaning toward the left, and it’s good to listen to both channels. And then form later on an opinion. 


[clip of unnamed Trump voter number 14] If I see a story that interests me out, if it leads me to CNN at first, I’ll go to like Fox News after and maybe check like some of the other ones, like BBC or or NPR or whatever. 


[clip of unnamed Trump voter number 15] The process I have to go through is to filter the news from each source as to what their agendas are, how thorough they are, how balanced, what agendas they have, what the editorial bias is. And then you have to filter that and inform your own thoughts. In addition to the semantic, anecdotal things. 


Jon Favreau: Sarah, you were talking about this a little bit earlier, but what does this tell you about their media diet? What does that tell you about, like where and how to break through to these voters? 


Sarah Longwell: Yeah. So can I just tell you one thing that I find to be a conundrum or an enigma about these folks is that I don’t know if they are, they seem more rational to us. 


Tim Miller: I think that some of those people are lying about their media consumption. 


Sarah Longwell: So I will say the number of times that people say BBC in the groups, I’m like, no way. 


Tim Miller: Yeah, come on. 


Jon Favreau: I– 


Sarah Longwell: No chance that this many people watch BBC. 


Jon Favreau: This happened in, all The Wilderness groups I did last season. 


Sarah Longwell: Yeah. 


Jon Favreau: I heard BBC all the time. I was like, what is going on? 


Sarah Longwell: It’s so funny. 


Tim Miller: It sounds good I think. 


Sarah Longwell: I it’s like it’s it sounds smart. 


Tim Miller: Yeah. Like the one guy said NPR. Then the other lady’s like, you know, I look at other things like whatever, like NPR, like, you don’t [?] NPR. I’m sorry. So like there’s some mis truth to [?].


Sarah Longwell: So I think that’s true to in that they are reaching in this moment to be like, I want to sound smart and like I, you know, whatever. That being said, I think there is something about people who are, uh and this is where I was going to say the enigma is like the chicken or egg. Are they naturally curious and therefore seeking out more, you know, a disparate opinions. And I want to see things that might disagree with me. Or are they changing their mind because they go around, you know, checking out other things, you know, like, I sort of don’t know which is the driver of it. I suspect it’s a little bit of both that they are like naturally curious people who want to see what okay, well, I know that Fox News is biased to the right. I think MSNBC is biased to the left. I’m going to go I’m going to go watch both and like, see if I can figure it out for myself. That’s good to know about a person, though, because it means that those are the types of people who are open to persuasion. They pursue persuasion, right? They pursue alternate set of details to like, learn, a lot about it. And so if you know people like that are sort of watching local news or they’re checking things like, that’s good for knowing how to target them and how to think about, like we run a lot of ads now on local news, because I’ve been listening to voters talk about a media diet that includes local news and that that is like one of the number one things that indicates they don’t believe the election was stolen. 


Jon Favreau: Yeah. 


Sarah Longwell: Like I watch more local news than cable. 


Jon Favreau: So, Sarah, you said before that uh, we’re not building a Pro-Biden coalition. We’re building an anti-Trump coalition. So obviously it’s a win if we get someone to just leave the top of the ballot blank, it’s even better if we can get someone to actually vote for Joe Biden. Um. What are the biggest reservations about Biden with a lot of these voters? And what do you think is the best way to help these voters overcome these reservations? 


Sarah Longwell: I’m going to blow your mind with this take, uh it’s because he’s old. Um. Yeah. I mean, that’s it. And left, right, and center. People talk about just feeling like they can’t connect with him. Like they know he’s he’s old. They don’t think he’s up to the job. And and that’s just what you hear. There’s a reason the media talks about it because that’s what voters talk about. Um. Even the ones who are deeply sympathetic to Joe Biden do this thing where they like, crouch and they say, I just get so worried when he talks and when he walks like, I want to make sure he’s okay. I want to like, help him. They like, you know, like you can see them like reaching for him to steady him. In uh and so, look, I think that that’s a big part of the problem, which is why I do think it’s much more about a negative campaign on Trump this time. Um. And I also think here’s the other thing, though, that voters really understand. They understand the president doesn’t do it alone, which is why for Trump, you have to make sure they know he’s a lunatic who will be surrounded by other lunatics, and that Joe Biden is an old but good man, surrounded by young and good people. Like like you have to. I do think that that, I I’m just a big advocate for a much more robust surrogate game, a much more, much more investment in in voters knowing who the people are, who are around Joe Biden because voters talk about it all the time, that they know it’s not just him. And so you got to sort of give them a sense that, uh because they’re just afraid. Does he have it for the next four years? The world feels dangerous. The economy feels precarious. Whether that’s true or not, that’s how they feel about it. And so they want somebody who can do the job. And even though Trump is not that much younger, he does have big lunatic energy. And so when people are just like smelling the vibes, they see Trump and they think he seems not sane exactly, but more up to it. 


Jon Favreau: Yeah. Tim, is it pretty much just age or what else are you hearing in your many chat groups with uh, with people who are still Trump curious Republicans? 


Tim Miller: Yeah. I mean, I think that my I think it’s selection bias, and I think that there is a small but vocal group of people that are upset with him about Israel. I don’t I don’t know that that’s very representative about what’s happening in Arizona. I trust Sarah’s focus groups on this more than, you know, people that text me that used to work for Mitt Romney or whatever. Um. I don’t think that’s representative of the mean voter. Um. Look, I think this, like, the [?] soldier thing is so stupid and so overplayed and people don’t even remember what really happened. That’s a side thing that a, you know, I feel like I can Google the real story there, Joe Biden reassuring people that he’s not going to go in with the far left would help. There’s like a weird, like, media driven view that Joe Biden’s big problem is with the progressive left. He’s got some problems over there. But like if you just look at the data, his problem is actually with centrist Black and Latino people. You know, mostly that’s like the group. 


Jon Favreau: Who some people don’t even think exist, right? [laugh] Especially some liberals, right?


Sarah Longwell: They exist.


Tim Miller: And he’s down like 20% with them. Like if you look at where he was in ’16 versus now, and you just look at again, polls caveat. But like if you, I just based on all the data we have like that’s the group like center left Black and Latino people are the ones that he’s that he’s down with the most. So that’s also true about our our people are mostly center folks. And so just kind of reassuring that he’s not, you know, going to be a socialist, I think would be helpful. Um I we all know that, you know, we know that it’s kind of silly to be concerned about that, but but people need to hear it. Um. And uh, besides that, it’s just anti-Trump. I’m sorry, like like Trump has to be disqualified, period. People have to be too freaked out. That’s the campaign. Like winning people over for Joe Biden. I think spending a lot of effort and energy on that is probably a fool’s errand. And like almost all of the energy needs to be on totally disqualifying Trump in these people’s eyes and making them feel like they’re too scared to vote for him. 


Jon Favreau: All right, final question. You have someone in your life who is a past Trump voter, either two time Trump voter, or maybe they voted for him once and then went to Biden, and now they’re not sure what they’re going to do. They’re still undecided. You got a couple minutes to persuade this person to not vote for Donald Trump. Uh. What do you say? 


Tim Miller: I’ve got a system, Sarah, you can think about yours. Because here’s mine so far. We’ll see if I don’t know yet. I’ve been stress testing this, but I say, what do you think the chances are that Donald Trump won’t leave? I let them answer the question. A lot of times people are like come on and I’m like no, like what do you think the percent chances are? 0%? And they’ll say like, oh I don’t know, maybe five. And I’ll say, that’s too fucking much. Five is too high. We’ve never had a 5% chance. That’s too high of a chance. If you believe that there’s anything more than a 0% chance that Donald Trump wants to become a dictator, you can not vote for him. Vote for every other Republican that you want. Close your ears, progressive listeners. You know, uh things are like the Senate is going to be Republican next time. Sorry, guys. Close your ears progressives. Close your ears Vote Save America crowd like you don’t have to worry. Socialism is coming. You do have to worry that Donald Trump is going to be a dictator. Um. That is my message. Again that my now my group, people in my life, this overindex is on again, that kind of college educated Romney Biden crowd. I would probably make a different pitch if it was, if we were talking about the more working class Trump types. 


Jon Favreau: Sarah?


Sarah Longwell: Yeah, I would say, first of all, if I had to make the pitch, I would make it, not me. Like I I shouldn’t be the one pitching. And my my most fervent hope, actually, is that one of the things that manifests as we get closer is that people who worked alongside Trump, uh the generals, that they come out and tell people what they saw, I think that those as surrogates would make an enormous difference to kind of the Wall Street Journal crowd. And I mean, don’t go on background in the Atlantic. I mean, hold a press conference and say with together with Kelly and Mattis and say, we cannot do this. Like I I sent young men and women to die for this democracy, and I will not allow this election to happen without me saying what I saw and how dangerous I think it would be to return this man to power. Um. And so that I think would go a long way. I also there’s a category of people who are making me, though, particularly insane that I want to fight with all the time, and it is the category. It’s the anti antis kind of, um that create the permission structure for normie Republicans to not vote for Joe Biden, and they do some version of this. Donald Trump is an existential threat to democracy. But I can’t vote for Joe Biden either. And so neither. And I find this to be this is a John Bolton argument. And or we’ve got many friends who kind of do this. And I’m like, well, this is insane. If you believe that Donald Trump is an existential threat to democracy, you vote for the one person, the tomato can that is standing between him and the White House. That’s what you do. Otherwise you are a coward and you don’t care about the country, and you are just not an adult capable of making hard choices. 


Tim Miller: I love Sarah, I just want to interfere. I don’t think you should call the person in your life a coward, though. [laughter] I don’t think that, like, Sarah was doing two things there. She gave a first strategy. 


Sarah Longwell: I was talking to John Bolton. 


Tim Miller: And then she was talking to John Bolton. I do think if you have a pundit in your life. 


Jon Favreau: If you’re if the person in your life happens to be Chris Sununu. 


Tim Miller: Yeah. [laughter]


Sarah Longwell: That’s right. 


Tim Miller: Then call him a coward. Absolutely. 


Sarah Longwell: Yes. 


Tim Miller: But if your person in your life is like an accountant or something, probably don’t call them a coward. All the rest of that though I endorse. 


Jon Favreau: Okay. That’s good. That’s good advice. Uh. Sarah Longwell, Tim Miller, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks for giving us some of your insights and sharing some of the focus groups with us. And uh, appreciate you guys. 


Sarah Longwell: Yeah. Thanks for having us. 


Tim Miller: Sorry Vote Save America people. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. We’ll see you all soon. 


Jon Favreau: I’m still I’m still pulling for Sherrod and Tester. 


Tim Miller: Same, same. 


Jon Favreau: I think they might be able to pull it out. I think they might be able to. 


Tim Miller: Yeah. Great. Sherrod. I hope it happens. I hope it happens. 


Jon Favreau: Bye guys! Before we move on, I just want to strenuously object to Tim’s prediction that Democrats will lose the Senate. We may. And it’s certainly an uphill climb, but there’s absolutely a path for candidates in the toughest races like Jon Tester and Sherrod Brown. And the best way to help them is by going to to donate or sign up for a volunteer shift. Then, if you feel so inclined, go ahead and tweet a thank you to Tim for encouraging you to sign up. And if you want to walk away with some hope about the campaign that Ben Wikler and other Democrats are building in Wisconsin, here it is. 


[clip of Ben Wikler] We just opened our 47th office. We have a presence all over the state in every region of the state, in rural areas and suburbs and exurbs and small towns and big towns and the cities of the state uh everywhere. And that means that we’re able to build these neighborhood teams where folks are talking to people in their own communities. And when you talk to someone that you know from church or from high school or from, you know, work or because you’re at your cousin’s wedding together, then you can start to have a conversation that goes off script. 


Jon Favreau: As you heard from Sarah, Tim, and Ben, these conversations won’t be easy. Whether they’re with perfect strangers or your closest family members. But they’re important. 


[clip of Ben Wikler] These should be longer conversations. This is not just checking in, making sure someone knows what the election is about. It actually starts with listening, asking people questions and listening to them and asking follow up questions. Finding points of common ground, finding values that they have in common. 


Jon Favreau: Maybe that seems a little scary to you. Maybe it seems a little cheesy. Maybe it just seems exhausting. But whether or not we keep Donald Trump out of the White House depends on how many of these conversations each of us are willing to have between now and November. And thankfully, Ben has a roadmap for us. 


[clip of Ben Wikler] Well, the first thing is that it’s okay to reassure people. You don’t want to make people feel guilty for being where they used to be. You want to make them feel safe and celebrated and not judged for being where they’re kind of coming to now. So having those conversations in a tender and open and curious way, uh can, can pave the way for them to have further conversations with you. Do not immediately come in and impose a giant purity test where you’re asking them to agree with you about everything. Instead, really start with asking questions where you’re trying to get at the root of why someone came to feel this way, and go there, and you can reflect back to them the values that you’re hearing and what you appreciate about those values. But you’re really looking for, you know, what is it that cracks this open for someone? What happens ultimately for some of these voters is it’s like squeezing through a keyhole, and then they come out and suddenly feel like they’re 3D on the other side of it, because they pop into themselves and feel like it’s okay to try out a bunch of different opinions that didn’t feel safe to tp try on before. 


Jon Favreau: I’ll leave you with that. Yes. It’ll be hard to go out there and persuade the persuadables in your life. But hopefully, after what you just heard, it may be just a little bit easier. [music break] The Wilderness is a production of Crooked Media. It’s written and hosted by me, Jon Favreau, our senior producer and editor is Andrea B. Scott. Austin Fisher is our producer and Farrah Safari is our associate producer. Sound design by Vasilis Fotopoulos, music by Marty Fowler, Charlotte Landes and Jordan Cantor sound engineered the show. Thanks to Katie Long, Reid Cherlin, Matt DeGroot and Madeleine Haeringer for production support. To our video team Rachel Gaewski, Joseph Dutra, Chris Russell, Molly Lobell and David Toles, who filmed and edited the show. If The Wilderness has inspired you to get involved, head on over to to sign up and find a volunteer shift near you.