- Andrew Yang is the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate who, according to Insider polling data, is the favorite among voters who haven’t yet decided whether they’re voting Republican or Democrat.
- During a recent campaign stop in New Hampshire, Insider spoke with a number of right-leaning voters who have become passionate Yang supporters.
- „We’re not voting blue no matter who. We’re Yangocrats,“ Russell Peterson told Insider. He and his wife, Elasa, are ex-Trump supporters who travel the country livestreaming Yang’s campaign events.
- A common trait among the right-of-center Yang supporters Insider spoke with was a resentment over being labeled racist because of political leanings. They see Yang as a unifying figure.
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NEW HAMPSHIRE – They’re lifelong conservatives from North Carolina. They voted for Donald Trump in 2016 but never voted in a presidential primary. Now they’re hardcore Andrew Yang supporters, and have uprooted their lives to support his 2020 presidential campaign.
Elasa and Russell Peterson – aged 34 and 44, respectively – discovered Yang via Joe Rogan’s podcast and were immediately drawn to Yang’s „humanity first“ and „not left, not right, forward“ messaging.
„Most of us don’t want to fight with each other. Most of us don’t want to blame each other for all of our problems,“ Russell, told Insider after a Yang campaign event in Concord, New Hampshire, this month.
Before long, they had quit their jobs and hit the campaign trail with their four-year-old son. While on the road, they launched the „GrassRoots #YangGang“ YouTube channel, where they livestream nearly every Yang campaign event and provide regular commentary throughout the day to more than 10,000 subscribers.
While they’ve switched their party registration to Democratic, Russell insisted their only choice is Yang.
„We’re not voting blue no matter who. We’re Yangocrats,“ Russell said. He adds that in his view, the Democratic National Committee will help re-elect Trump if it continues to impose debate thresholds that keep candidates like Yang off stage in favor of what he calls „establishment candidates.“
Foto: Elasa and Russell Peterson, the Andrew Yang supporters who run the Grassroots #YangGang YouTube chansourceInsider/Anthony Fisher
When asked how he squares his conservative principles with his support for a liberal Democrat, Russell says that Yang’s „freedom dividend“ – a universal basic income of $1,000 a month for every adult – would help „eliminate the number one reason that women say they have abortions, and that’s lack of finances. As a conservative, that’s something that I can get behind because you’re talking about addressing abortion, You’re just doing it a different way,“ he said.
Russell added that he finds Yang’s „capitalism that doesn’t start at zero“ message intriguing. Yang has relentlessly touted universal basic income as a potential solution to a near-future where automation makes millions of jobs obsolete.
„Andrew Yang says, let’s let the robots have the damn jobs and let’s create a better future for everybody,“ he said, adding, „Trump likes to tout how great the economy is. And he’s talking about, how we’ve got so many jobs. Yeah, that’s cause motherf—–s are working two or three jobs just to make ends meet. We shouldn’t have to be doing that. That’s crazy to me. So as GDP keeps going up, the broke folk are just getting broker.“
„Just like depression, suicides, drug overdoses [are on the rise] and the fact that life expectancy has declined for three years in a row,“ Elasa added. „That’s crazy.“
Yang’s gang includes a lot of right-of-center voters who are fed up with ‚class warfare‘
Most of Yang’s policies are solidly progressive. But as he told Insider, „I believe I’m the best candidate to take on and defeat Donald Trump in the general election in part because I’m drawing hundreds of thousands of disaffected Trump voters, independents, and libertarians, as well as Democrats and progressives.“
The numbers back up Yang’s claims.
According to three Insider polls of voters who hadn’t decided whether they’re voting Republican or Democrat, 46% said they would be satisfied with him as the nominee, the highest level of support among any Democratic candidate. Former Vice President Joe Biden held the next-highest percentage of undecided voters, with 42%.
Foto: Andrew Yang talks with supporter Ari Goldschneider following a town hall in Hudson, NHsourceAnthony Fisher/Insider
Ari Goldschneider, 36, is a self-described „non-ideological registered Democrat“ from Massachusetts. Since coming of voting age, his presidential votes have gone to George W. Bush, John Kerry, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and Gary Johnson. That’s two Republicans, two Democrats, and a Libertarian – which makes him a rare legitimate swing voter who doesn’t appear to lean heavily toward one party.
He works in finance, owns property, and says he’s financially comfortable. So he doesn’t see Yang’s promise of $1,000 a month as a ploy to buy his vote. Rather, he’s sympathetic to the struggle of many working class families and sees UBI as a way to „take the economic boot off their throats.“
Goldschneider told Insider after a Yang town hall in Hudson, New Hampshire, that he’s turned off by what he calls a „class warfare narrative,“ which he says is most represented by the campaigns of Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
„Billionaires are not evil. I work for a bank. I’m a landlord. I may be considered evil in their minds. That’s not a productive message,“ he said.
„Black, White, Hispanic, Asian people, we all have many of the same problems. There are certain problems that are more pronounced in some communities, but I think getting economic power into people’s hands should be universal,“ Goldschneider says.
One of his biggest gripes with the slate of Democratic contenders is how they characterize Trump supporters. He says, „It’s not good that we demonize people that voted for Trump as racist.“
A common trait among right-of-center Yang supporters Insider encountered in New Hampshire was a shared resentment over being labeled a racist because of their political leanings.
„I was a former Trump supporter and it was really frustrating because I didn’t think I was a racist. But the Democratic Party loves to demonize the people who support Trump. And it’s the same with the Republicans,“ Russell Peterson said.
Elasa Peterson added: „Right. They have these names, they like to call each other, ‚You’re a socialist!‘ or ‚You’re a racist!‘ And there’s a very small percentage that are extreme one way or the other. I don’t feel like most of Donald Trump’s supporters are racist. Maybe a small percentage of them.“
Russell chimed in: „And most Democrats aren’t demons! The fact is most of us are in the middle. And when a candidate like Andrew Yang comes along and he’s like ‚I’m that guy that can bring everybody together progress instead and still be progressive.‘