The most hotly contested presidential contest in decades is driving some voters to the polls for the first time in their lives, or to take philosophical U-turns.
New Yorkers told The Post their motivations for backing President Trump or Joe Biden, including the rise in crime and the coronavirus pandemic — which has touched each in different ways.
Another is making an interesting split supporting Trump and progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Barry Crupi, 41
Neighborhood: Great Kills, Staten Island
Profession: owns auto body shop
Last time he voted: Never
Who he’s voting for this year: Trump
“Politics were never on my radar, let alone voting. I would have happily gone the rest of my life without voting. But I registered a few months ago, and I’m now a Republican. Before, I didn’t want to be bothered. The riots happening in Democratic cities changed all that, and so did a dangerous spike in violent crimes on Staten Island. My vote is going to Nicole Malliotakis for Congress and to Trump.
“I don’t like every single thing about Trump, but a lot of what he does is good. He shows just how biased the media are. I can’t watch the news anymore. It’s like they’re propaganda machines for the Democratic party, always dumping on Trump. I’m a single dad to an 11-year-old son. I own my own business, Barry’s Auto Body, and the shutdowns have really hurt. The Democrats think they can shut everyone’s business down, tell you where you can eat, that you can’t go to diners. That’s communism as far as I’m concerned. The Democrats care more about rioting criminals than hard-working Americans. I can’t wait to get in the voting booth.”
— As told to Doree Lewak
Aria Zelnik, 38
Neighborhood: West Village
Profession: freelance publicist
Last time she voted: Never
Who she’s voting for this year: Biden
“I’ve always followed politics and the news, and I consider myself pretty engaged in the world. I can remember where I was for every election, but I never felt compelled to vote. Even though I’ve lived in two swing states — Florida and Ohio — as an adult of voting age, I never really thought my vote would make a difference. But the pandemic made me want to vote for the first time in my life.
“My vote for Joe Biden is a rebuke to Trump’s handling of COVID, because of my 28-year-old brother, who still deals with residual health issues after his bout with the virus in March. Trump was callous about COVID when he recently said, ‘Don’t be afraid.’ It took me 20 years to have a personal stake in the political process, but I finally wanted to use my vote as my voice. I used my Florida residency to vote early there rather than solidly blue New York. I also voted for Biden for social reasons. I’m not letting my friends in same-sex marriages lose their rights or my female friends lose their right to choose.”
— As told to Doree Lewak
Yahay Obeid, 37
Neighborhood: Morris Park, Bronx
Profession: Air traffic control supervisor at JFK Airport
Last time he voted: In 2016 (for Hillary Clinton); in 2018 (for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)
Who he’s voting for this year: Trump and AOC
“People call me crazy for voting for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Donald Trump. But I have always been a very independent person. I’m originally from central Yemen and immigrated to the United States when I was 8 years old. The Yemeni community loves AOC and Trump, though many are afraid to admit the latter. I have my differences with AOC, particularly on taxes, but she has been extremely responsive to the needs of her district and to me personally. During her first speech on the floor of Congress last year, she brought attention to the issue of federal employees like me who were not able to make a living during the government shutdown — and even gave me a shout out.
“In 2016, Trump put me off with his calls to ban Muslims from entering the United States. But Trump has brought big and positive changes to the Middle East and reined in Iran, which had become a dangerous threat to the region during President Obama’s time in office. I’m also a very big supporter of law enforcement. Democrats have been a real disappointment lately. Part of the reason we missed the boat on coronavirus is because liberals and CNN were focused on impeachment.”
— As told to Jon Levine
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