Looking for Trump voters on Manhattan’s Upper West Side
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Looking for Trump voters on Manhattan’s Upper West Side

A liberal, well-off neighborhood that traditionally votes Democrat shows every sign of following suit this year

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Karen Terban (left) and her fellow Hillary activists hawking Hillary pins on an Upper West Side sidewalk on Monday afternoon, November 7, 2016 (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)
Karen Terban (left) and her fellow Hillary activists hawking Hillary pins on an Upper West Side sidewalk on Monday afternoon, November 7, 2016 (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

MANHATTAN, New York — It’s hard to find a Trump voter in the liberal environs of the affluent Manhattan neighborhood known as the Upper West Side.

It’s not that “Hillary Clinton for President” or “#Imwithher” signs proliferate in shop windows and storefronts –they don’t — or even that the Trump Place rental buildings on Riverside Boulevard between 59th and 72nd streets show nary a sign of a Donald Trump supporter. (Residents at 140, 160 and 180 Riverside Boulevard signed an online petition in October titled “Dump the TRUMP Name” in a bid to remove the Republican candidate’s moniker from the buildings and the doormen’s uniforms.)

In fact, the coast was clear of any electioneering on this afternoon before Election Day, when residents were going about their business, emerging from subway stations, shopping in local stores and perhaps making their Election Day plans.

Whatever they were thinking, few wanted to share their election decisions or make their opinions public.

“Talk about the election? Nah, I don’t think so,” said one of the owners at The Kosher Marketplace, a food emporium at Broadway and 91st Street, where half-sour pickles and kosher sushi neatly line the refrigerator shelves. “Besides, who wants to know what I think?”

It was the same reaction at a dozen different cafes and shops on Broadway, Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues.

An upward look at Trump Palace on Riverside Drive, one of three buildings where residents signed a petition to remove the candidate's name from the towers (Courtesy Equity Apartments)
An upward look at Trump Palace on Riverside Drive, one of three buildings where residents signed a petition to remove the candidate’s name from the towers (Courtesy Equity Apartments)

At West Side Judaica, a Jewish bookstore on Broadway at 88th Street, where the window was plastered with flyers asking customers to be sure to frequent small businesses, the three shopkeepers just shook their heads when asked about voting plans.

“Don’t ask us,” said one man, who wore a yarmulke and had white tzitzit, or ritual fringes, emerging from below his white shirt. One might have thought he’d be voting for Trump, perhaps swayed by the candidate’s promise of cutting small business taxes, but he just shook his head when asked. “We don’t talk about that here.”

However, Zachary, 20, a student at City College on 138th Street, was willing to talk a little about his voting plans as he walked out of a kosher Dunkin’ Donuts on Amsterdam Avenue at 91st Street holding an iced coffee.

“I’m devastated,” said Zachary, who will be voting for the first time. “The options aren’t too great.”

He’s not a huge fan of Trump, but doesn’t believe in Clinton, either.

“Trump has some issues, and I’m not sure that he is a leader, but I have a hard time trusting Hillary,” he said. “She should know better.”

What has surprised him is finding out that he isn’t alone in considering Trump a viable presidential candidate.

“I’ve been in this public speaking class, and I wasn’t planning on sharing my personal opinions about anything, but I found out that other people in my class felt the way I do,” he said. “Not everyone is liberal around here.”

It depends whom you ask. At a table set up on the wide sidewalk on Broadway at 97th Street, Karen Terban was hawking Hillary pins with fellow Vote Hillary activists to passersby.

It wasn’t her first time volunteering for a presidential campaign, but she wants to be sure that Hillary is elected by a wide margin on Tuesday, November 8.

“I’ve lived on the Upper West Side for 50 years and we have every kind of person in this exciting, vibrant and multicultural neighborhood,” said Terban.

Terban said the local Democratic club organized an event on Saturday in which more than 100 residents turned out to march up Broadway from 96th Street, a major intersection, to 110th Street, six blocks south of Columbia University.

Canvassing for Hillary outside her Upper West Side headquarters on Monday (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)
Canvassing for Hillary outside her Upper West Side headquarters on Monday (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

They were apparently joined by a pair of Trump supporters.

“There was a couple behind me, tanned, upper East Side, you know the look,” she said. “And they were muttering about Trump, and I said, ‘I don’t know how anyone who pays taxes, who is a woman, or an African American, or a Jew…'” — “…or disabled,” interjected another Hillary activist — “‘could possibly vote for anyone but Hillary.'”

The marchers were saluted on their way north. “All the shopkeepers came out of their stores to give us the V sign,” she said, demonstrating with her fingers. “The only guy who didn’t is that Trump supporter up on 103rd Street.”

This alleged pro-Trump person wasn’t in place at Broadway and 103rd on Monday afternoon, but business was brisk at the Clinton-Kaine campaign headquarters, where Sheryl Grant, another volunteer, was making sure locals were registered to vote.

“Do you know who you’re voting for,” she asked one woman accompanying an older man with a walker. When the woman said she wasn’t sure, Grant quickly reprimanded her.

“What happens if you don’t vote, and Trump wins?” she asked. “So we all suffer?”

Hillary Clinton campaign volunteer Sheryl Grant said no one should consider voting for Trump (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)
Hillary Clinton campaign volunteer Sheryl Grant, who says no one should consider voting for Trump (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

Of course, in New York, which last voted in a Republican candidate when Ronald Reagan won the his second term in 1984, there isn’t much chance that the Electoral College delegates will go anything but Democratic. Yet it’s still the responsibility of local voters to show whom they support, said Grant. And the only choice, she said, is Hillary Clinton.

“I find her to be honest,” said Grant. “Her composure is awesome. She wants better things for the young people. She has vision.”

Donald Trump, on the other hand, isn’t trustworthy, she said. She said she doesn’t trust anyone who uses so much gold in his bathrooms, referring to the gold-tiled restrooms at Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan.

“If you see Donald Trump, you tell him that I wouldn’t work for him even if he paid me,” said Grant, who is currently studying for her GED and looking for a job. “If he wins this election, it’ll be like another form of war.”

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