Yang’s Nontraditional Supporters Are Real And Ready To Vote

Photo by Emily Ross

A 33-year-old from Kansas City hitched a ride from a friend in St. Louis to stand in the cold and rain for more than four hours to meet Andrew Yang and experience Yangapalooza this past Friday.

Yangapalooza featured several hours of live entertainment from Chef Zoot, Weezer and others. More than 1,200 people showed up in downtown Des Moines to rock out before the event turned into a political spectacle.

Yang, a New York-based entrepreneur and Democratic presidential candidate, delivered a fiery speech peppered with some colorful, yet uplifting language before his legions of followers marched with him to the largest Democratic event of the year.

Photo by Julie Fleming

The Yang-themed festival was a first for Jessie Hart, the Missouri man from Kansas City. He had never been to a political event in Iowa before. He doesn’t have the money to make the three-hour trip by himself.

He’s also never voted.

“This will be my first time voting,” Hart said. “I was going to vote last cycle for [Donald] Trump, but I did not register.”

Hart is exactly the kind of voter Yang is after.

“We all know this campaign is attracting disaffected Trump voters,” Yang shouted to the Yangapalooza crowd from stage. “The fact is that disaffected Trump voters count double.”

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Because “disaffected” Republican voters won’t support Trump and instead would vote for a Democrat, Yang figured they deserved to be counted twice.

With help from the former Republicans, Independents and Libertarians that Yang has been able to attract, the candidate supposed he could build a much broader coalition to beat Trump in 2020 than anyone else in the field.

Hart said he nearly voted for Trump in 2016 because “he was pulling on the triggers in my mind that I had been told for so many years; immigrants taking jobs and just all of it.”

“Trump said, ‘I’m a businessman and I’m going to fix everything,'” Hart said. “And after some things that happened in Kansas City — layoffs and nearly being homeless a couple of times, I didn’t really feel like [former president Barack Obama] was fixing anything and it was time to support somebody who may actually fix things.”

Photo by Julie Fleming

Hart, who essentially jumped from one businessman to another, said he was distrustful of “career politicians.”

“They’re in it for the game,” Hart said, of those who stick around D.C. “With too many of them I feel like they just don’t care. They want to win, or they want to be president, or they just want the media coverage.”

An Aspiring Public Servant

Many of Yang’s supporters are attracted to him for a simple reason: he seems like a normal guy.

William March, a 20-year-old Iowa State University student from Cedar Rapids, said he liked Yang’s way of speaking.

“I adore the fact that he’s not afraid to openly swear,” March said. “At Yangapalooza, he openly swore. I love that because that’s how I speak. That’s how a human speaks.

“All other politicians, they use sort of more Orwellian rhetoric and use wasteful words in their conversations, like filler words,” March said. “He doesn’t. He cuts to the chase and he tells you what it is.”

March identified as a Democrat because that’s how he was raised, but said he doesn’t want to vote for a candidate who would waste his tax dollars. Efficiency and expediency are two things he’s after in a president.

At first, March thought Yang’s Universal Basic Income proposal to provide every adult in the United States with $1,000 per month was “super socialist.”

“It kind of turned me off,” he said.

Photo by Julie Fleming

His friend Thomas Maloney, a fellow 20-year-old Iowa State student from Illinois, explained it actually was a capitalist idea.

“Markets function really well when people have money,” Maloney, who also attended Yangapalooza, said.

Maloney started researching Yang after one of his more conservative friends said he really liked him.

“I looked at his policies and I decided I should probably do this for the rest of the candidates, but a lot of them didn’t have as many or as detailed plans, and then I found some YouTube videos and he does really well in some of the long-form interviews, which is what really got me,” Maloney said. “It was kind of refreshing to hear a politician answering questions.

“That’s what I appreciated, is that if I ask him a question, he would absolutely be able to answer,” he said.

Maloney wasn’t involved in politics in the past. Even though he was too young to vote in the last presidential election, Maloney tried to find someone to be engaged with, but said, “there wasn’t really anyone that excited me or that I could feel like I agreed with on a lot of issues.”

“And it also felt like none of them were actually solving the issues that we were really going to face,” Maloney said.

Photo by Julie Fleming

He thought Yang succeeds in attracting young voters across the political spectrum because he doesn’t demonize people who don’t agree with him on everything.

“He doesn’t resort to utilizing identity politics and it doesn’t feel like he tries to push anyone away,” Maloney said. “He gives off an aura that he’s just trying to solve the problem.”

Both Maloney and Hart said they appreciated Yang’s approach to politics — to get in and get out.

At Yangapalooza, Yang said he doesn’t “have a particular interest in squatting in D.C. like a giant spider trying to feed myself.”

“I don’t care about any of that stuff,” Yang said. “I just want to get in there and solve the problems for us and seal it up before I leave and get on out of there.”

The two college students believed Yang.

“He’s going to get in, do the job, and then go, because that’s truly what the president should do,” Hart said. “That’s what every civil servant should do. They’re called civil servants for a reason. They’re there to serve us.”

Photo by Julie Fleming

Candidacy Attracts First-Timers

Andrea Kalvig, a 38-year-old mom from Waukee, had never volunteered for a political campaign before this year.

She stepped up when Yang came calling because he “has ideas that are for our current and future problems.”

“He’s not just addressing problems that have been hobbling us for years and years, he’s looking to the future, and it’s changing so fast and he’s in a unique position to understand that,” Kalvig said. “I’ve never been involved in a campaign before. I’ve never donated or canvassed or anything, but he just speaks directly to all of the issues that my family faces everyday, and I see my children’s future and how it could be with him versus how it could be with other candidates.

“It’s just night and day,” she said. “I’m doing this for my kids’ future.”

Kalvig decided to get involved in Yang’s campaign because he doesn’t have the media coverage provided to other candidates.

“I just needed to get out there and tell people who he is because as soon as someone sees a YouTube clip of him, they are obsessed,” Kalvig said. “If he lands in your YouTube feed, you are never going to watch anything but Andrew Yang until the election.”

Photo by Julie Fleming

This election also will be filled with firsts for Adam Wince, a 17-year-old from West Des Moines. 2020 will be the first year he can caucus and vote.

He will vote for whoever the Democratic nominee is come the general election next November, but for now, Yang resonates with this young voter.

“In my opinion, the presidency is more about how the individual represents the country than actual policy, just because of checks and balances,” Wince said. “So far, Yang is the only one who hasn’t said anything factually wrong at the base level, so I think he would be the best.”

Photo by Emily Ross

What’s Unique About Yang

Alex Buckingham, a 28-year-old from the Des Moines suburbs, described himself as a “curious learner.”

He hasn’t decided who he wanted to support yet, so he’s doing his research. He has heard a lot of good things about Yang, so he stopped by Yang’s Liberty and Justice Celebration after-party at West End Salvage.

Bukckingham has found many Yang supporters agree with much of what Sen. Bernie Sanders has to say, but “maybe they want someone who is willing to move the conversation a little bit further.”

“Maybe they’re looking for a younger voice or a different voice,” Buckingham said. “He’s also attracting people who recognize the concern with automation, because he’s one of the few campaigns that does a lot to address that.”

The self-described Independent who usually votes with the left and does plan to caucus, said Yang can attract out-of-the-box voters because he “talks about the things other candidates don’t.”

“He actually really would bring a different paradigm to the table,” Buckingham said. “He doesn’t push away the people who are tired of the general Democratic paradigm.”

Photo by Julie Fleming

A Caucus Night Surprise?

Yang’s supporters certainly know him well.

When he took the stage at the LJ on Friday night, he stuck to his typical stump speech, but what made Yang stand out was his cheering section.

The people sitting in Yang’s seats inside of the huge arena finished several of his sentences and quickly answered many of his questions.

“The U.S. House of Representatives passed it [a universal basic income] in 1971 and 11 years later one state passed a dividend where now everyone in that state gets between $1,000 and $2,000 a year, no questions asked. And what state is that?” Yang asked.

“Alaska!” his supporters cheered back.

“And how does Alaska pay for it?” Yang asked.

“Oil!” the crowd chanted.

Photo by Emily Ross

Yang did ask one question no one knew the answer to: “How is a man you never heard of eight months ago speaking after Joe Biden and before Elizabeth Warren?”

There have been some guesses.

Yang’s popularity could have been bolstered solely by social media. That’s where the so-called “Yang Gang” was born. An interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast earlier this year has also been credited with significantly boosting his visibility.

Perhaps his numbers were driven upward when he announced at the September debate he would give $1,000 to 10 random people every month for a year.

Or, maybe, there’s more to his campaign than the gimmicks.

“I really do like a lot of Yang’s ideas,” Buckingham, the undecided Iowan, said. “Especially his unapologetic push of the Universal Basic Income, the Freedom Dividend.

“I think that’s a really progressive idea,” he said. “It makes a lot of sense. We need to be able to address automation because it’s the next big problem we are going to have to face. That is appealing.”

Yang has found himself a contingent big enough to keep him in mix of Democratic contenders in the largest field in history, not to mention stay on the debate stage when other far more politically-accomplished senators have fallen off. And he has a plan to use his massive following to win in 2020.

“The last I checked, this is a fucking Democracy, right?” Yang asked the 1,200 people gathered at Yangapalooza. “When you get the people behind you, there’s no stopping us.”


By Paige Godden
Posted 11/5/19

37 Comments on "Yang’s Nontraditional Supporters Are Real And Ready To Vote"

  • Andrew is The One. Just listen to him; he’s talking about real everyday problems and solutions, not posturing and showboating about Trump. It’s crazy how absolutely bonkers the Democrats are over Trump. It’s like being so upset over a road-hog that you wind up crashing!

  • Thanks for this piece! You definitely did a great job getting to know some of the YangGang and why Yang appeals to so many people. Great work!

  • Very impressive article! Brought some great insights to what brought so many of his supporters together from every spectrum. Looks like a amazing candidate to unite the country that is very much in need currently.

  • I’ve always been a left leaning voter. We need to do something about the wealth inequality before we see violent protests. But Warren’s and Bernie’s proposals will kill the dynamism of America. Yang’s UBI plus VAT will rebalance the economy, putting more spending power in lower/middle income families, making that money circulate in the local communities (instead of the rich who keep their money in stocks of companies that simply buy back shares instead of Maki business investments), and reduce the budget deficit via VAT. I hope more voters in Iowa will read up on benefits UBI — that will preserve the American spirit of choice and freedom.

  • This is a fantastic story that really explains why so many people are attracted to Andrew Yang as a leader and as a problem solver! He is finally breaking through the blaming of “the other side” to really address the problems that got us in this situation in the first place. He has over 100 policies on his website and once people really look into them, they are hooked on the common sense and Humanity First that is the center of Yang’s campaign. Thanks for such an insightful and uplifting story about Andrew Yang and the #YangGang!

  • Well researched, thorough write up. Really captures the essence of Yang’s appeal. I do my best to vote at every election, but outside of that, I was as disengaged as most people. Never donated, never volunteered, never wore merch and I am 46 and been around quite a few cycles. Ever since watching the Joe Rogan podcast with Yang, I have sent close to 15 donations of $25-$50 to the Yang campaign (pretty sure i am going to max out before this is all over), gone out every Saturday and Election day yesterday to collect signatures to get him on the Virginia presidential primary ballot. Yang is a once in a life time candidate, we can’t let this opportunity slip by us. Nobody is going to give it to us, we have to go out there for fight for the future we want. Let’s get out there and spread his message!

  • Finally a candidate comes along for the common sense majority. Can we ignore the extremes in both parties and get this guy elected and actually unite our country? Man, I hope so.

  • Very well written article and a good overview into what some outlets have dubbed “The Andrew Yang Experience”;
    #YangMediaShoutOut in contrast to #YangMediaBlackout, which is to say The People should have opportunity to find materials as part of due diligence toward their elected officials.

  • Only Andrew Yang can unite an Internet comments section.

    On a more serious note, he has inspired myself and so many to believe in our country again. If you haven’t looked into him, please do!!!

  • Awesome article!
    Love seeing the early adapters take note of this guy’s campaign! He’s the only one with 21st century solutions against all the tried and failed policies offered by all the other Old World leaders out there!

  • Thank you for this piece. This is fair, well informed, and thorough. This is far better reporting than I’ve seen in mainstream media, and I respect that. I am disaffected and disengaged at 40 years old. I can’t tell you what it is, but after a few long-form Yang interviews (Rogan podcast, Rubin Report, and Dave Shapiro), many people like me find their home. Suddenly, for the first time, I understand the pain and struggle I’ve been seeing since 2008. I see Yang is our way out of it, and I’m hopeful for the first time now that I understand what ails us and how we can try to fix it. I was going to pull up stakes and leave the country because I have that freedom, but I’ve been inspired to stay and rally behind this vision. I think we can turn this around.

  • I’m a grandma of 5 , I’m a very old Yang Gang. Yang2020 will get my vote and I have been donating to his camp 100 bucks a month since I know Andrew Yang

  • I have always been a conservative voter but just can’t get behind Trump. I carefully researched all the Democratic candidates and where I found Yang, I was overjoyed and never looked back. He continues to amaze me with progressive ideas that I can support.

  • Excellent article, thanks so much for all the quotes and profiles of these voters. The optimism and hope that people find when simply considering the prospect of UBI is utterly transformative. It’s amazing, the way it lowers hostilities and makes people feel (and act) more giving toward others — even strangers. When you really start to think about all the positive implications that could come from having such a humble, hardworking, and sincere leader guiding our country through this crucial historical period with compassion, vision, and wisdom… It makes anything possible. It is the embodiment of the American dream, and it could be a model for countries all over the world. My teenager can’t abide any of the other candidates; Yang is the one with plain-spoken, genuine answers that are well thought-out and deep and get to the actual root of the problems we face. It has been so humbling to watch this movement grow. There are so many excellent people out there who care so much for this country and our future. It’s too bad that the Democratic establishment is such a stumbling block on all these ideas, because if there’s one thing I am sure of, it’s that Yang beats Trump. We need all the first-time and otherwise disengaged voters we can find. This movement is very possible, and it’s well within our reach. 200,000 people are likely to participate in the Iowa caucuses. A landslide victory in February could literally change the world.

  • I enjoyed the article! I research Andrew Yang and he definitely has very bold and unique ideas to solve our main problems… you can clearly see he is not an establishment candidate or an engrained politician.

  • Thorough, insightful, & unbiased article. Once you listen or see Yang articulate his policies & the data & facts supporting his policies, it’s difficult to disagree with him. He is truly the opposite of Trump & other career politicians. Yang also seems to be genuinely nice & not attacking his competitors.

  • Thanks for a great article – you’ll find yourself on the right side of history when the MSM finally wake up and see the story they’ve been missing ???

  • Great work! Very fair coverage. Local news > the infotainment that passes for news on cable these days. Sending my ❤ to Iowa!

  • Thank you so much for such a wonderful article on Andrew Yang ! My heart and soul is fighting to get Andrew in the White House. There’s so many American’s struggling to make ends meet and Andrew has the perfect plan to help them. I can’t wait to see the homeless people with smiles on their faces and a warm place to live.

  • Yang’s “Venture for America” has created thousands of jobs in mid west states. He knows how to create jobs and take care of people. His Freedom Dividend policy will create millions more jobs for America.

  • “If he lands in your YouTube feed, you are never going to watch anything but Andrew Yang until the election.” SO TRUE! I totally ignored Yang at first, but once I dove in I couldn’t stop watching him on Youtube. In a world of politics, Yang really represents hope, reason, and positive regime change — solving the problems, rather than creating them.

  • Thanks for the story and it reminded me that f..king good speech he gave at the Yangapalooza. I am 56 and like many parents extremely concerned of how this country would go down and how my kids and grandkids could end up worse off if this country’s politicians are in the pockets of big money lobbyists. Andrew Yang’s Democracy Dollars , Ranked Choice Voting are designed to eradicate the corruptions and the Freedom Dividend is to save capitalism from dying; most of his 150 plus policies, as your interviewees said of his talking, does not use big and empty words but full of wisdoms and solutions , and make great senses to me; and I’ve seen none as smart, empathetic, and confident as this “long shot” – to all the curious Iowan reading this article and wanting to know more about this guy, the best place to start is his Joe Rogan interview in Feb. 2019, and his book “The War On Normal People” the current best seller on Amazon.

  • people are quick to forehead Yang, as I once did, until they research him further. wisdom is changing your mind! the joe rogan yang interview was captivating and ive been yang gang ever since

  • Awesome article! As an adamant supporter it’s nice to be recognized as real with all the media blackout going on! I’m making plans now to travel from Cali to campaign for him in Iowa! Nice to see such great coverage from a source that is obviously with the times and recognizes 21st century solutions! ✨??✨

  • Having President Yang in the White House is an inspiring thought. His forward-thinking ideas are just what we need for the 21st century.

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