They Were Fervent Trump Supporters. Then Coronavirus Hit.

Hayley Miller
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They Were Fervent Trump Supporters. Then Coronavirus Hit.

Above: Vincent Harris of Missouri pictured in front of a flag at half-staff to honor U.S. victims of COVID-19.
Credit: Jill Toyoshiba for HuffPost

In his northern Missouri town of about 6,000, Vincent Harris suspects he was one of the most vocal supporters President Donald Trump had there.

The 54-year-old Navy veteran was a self-described “deplorable” (a reference to Hillary Clinton’s notorious dig at Trump supporters in 2016). He fiercely defended the #MAGA mindset on social media, acting as one of the president’s model “keyboard warriors.”

But his staunch support for Trump began to slip as the coronavirus began to spread.

“Up until that time, I felt like the press had been uncharacteristically hard on him,” Harris said. For him, Trump’s “disregard for science” amid a pandemic marked a turning point that warranted national scrutiny.

Harris grew frustrated and discouraged as he watched Trump contradict the country’s top public health experts from the White House podium, downplaying the threat of the virus in the U.S. and hawking unproven treatments.

“I think what some may perceive as attacks from the media now are very fair, are accurate and are pointing out the inconsistencies that are incredibly dangerous from a public health perspective,” said Harris, a lifelong Republican.

Older Americans were key to securing Trump’s victory in 2016. But some ― including Harris, who supported the president in the last election ― aren’t so firmly in his camp this time around, a shift that could present a hurdle for Trump as he seeks a second term.

Among voters 45 to 64 years old, Trump outperformed Clinton by a 4-point margin, according to the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, a survey of more than 64,000 voters organized by Harvard University and administered by YouGov. The same survey showed Trump won voters 65 and older by a hefty margin of about 13 points.

This time around, according to a FiveThirtyEight average of national...

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