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Meet the Michigan voters at Trump rallies

Matthew Meagher, left, is undecided; but his buddies are Trump supporters.
Kate Wells/Michigan Radio
Matthew Meagher, left, is undecided; but his buddies are Trump supporters.

All of Matthew Meagher’s buddies at this rally are big Donald Trump supporters.

One of them even volunteers with the Oakland County Republican party after work each night – the kind of guy who’s wearing a wool blazer and button-down shirt to this Mike Pence rally in suburban Detroit, even though it’s 80 degrees outside.

But for Meagher, a Kettering University student who’s going into IT work, he just can’t make up his mind.

“And then there’s me, who sits in the center! It’s just, it’s hard,” he says. “It’s like, 50/50 both ways. There’s stuff I agree with, with Hillary Clinton. But then there’s stuff I agree with, with Trump.”

So we throw some ideas around. What about building a wall on the Mexican border?

“It’s insane!” he laughs.

How about banning Muslim immigration? Meaghar thinks for a moment, chooses his words slowly.

"It’s – I could see it as a temporary thing, like Trump's proposed. But it's very, very… un-American."

This will be Meagher's first time voting in a presidential election. And he says he still has no idea how he'll vote in November.

Credit Kate Wells/Michigan Radio
Alesha Mytich and her father, Brian, are both voting for Trump; though at first, Alesha was a Bernie Sanders supporter. "I told her the facts," says Brian Mytich.

Another first-time voter, Alesha Mytich, came along with her dad, Brian. Both are from Westland, where Brian says he’s a retired police officer and Alesha’s wrapping up her associate's degree.

At first, Alesha was a Bernie Sanders supporter – but then Brian says he "told her the facts":

"Ford investing billions in Mexico. You got China taking manufacturing jobs away by the millions. You know, I can go on and on," he says.

His daughter laughs.

"Don't get him started! Every day, we get into some politician, like –"

"No, you know, I just tell her the facts,” Brian says. “The facts are the facts. And it’s clear Hillary Clinton is just going to keep lying and lying and lying.”

Now, Alesha says her dad's turned her into a Trump fan.

Credit Kate Wells/Michigan Radio
The crowd in Novi cheers for Mike Pence

“I did my own research after he put it in my head. I mean, he definitely is showing there’s still hope and stuff. He’s convincing people that you don’t have to know your stuff 100%, but if you want things for the right reason? If you just want to help America out? I think that’s the main thing, that’s why I like him.”

Inside the rally at a ballroom in Novi, several hundred supporters have come to see Mike Pence make his first pitches to Michigan voters since becoming Donald Trump’s pick for the VP slot.

“Donald Trump gets it!” Pence tells the cheering crowd. “Doesn’t he? I’ve gotten to know this guy. We have a saying, south of Highway 40, when you get around people and around their family: They’re good people. And how about those Trump kids, huh? Weren’t they just amazing?”

Credit Kate Wells/Michigan Radio
Signs outside the rally in Novi on Thursday

Pence turns the talk to law enforcement, saying “it’s heartbreaking” what’s been happening lately.

Someone in the crowd yells “Blue lives matter!”

“As chief law enforcement officer, a president Donald Trump will support law enforcement at every level,” Pence says, drawing a connection between recent terrorist acts, and what he says is President Obama’s practice of “leading from behind.”

"And on the world stage, Donald Trump will lead from strength!" Pence promised the crowd.

When Pence started talking about Hillary Clinton's foreign policy, the crowd overwhelmed him with chants of “Lock her up! Lock her up!”

Asking Michigan voters to “tell their neighbors” about Trump’s platform, Pence waved goodbye and left the stage, as the Rolling Stones' “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” played over the campaign speakers. 

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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