In rural Virginia, 150 miles from the White House, sits one of the more than 200 counties in the U.S. that voted for President Obama twice and then President Trump in 2016. As the 2020 presidential campaign heats up, Amna Nawaz talks to Lisa Bogan and Jimmy Clowry, a politically divided couple living in a politically divided county, about how they manage their opposing perspectives on Trump.
In rural Virginia, about 150 miles southwest of the White House, sits one of the more than 200 counties in the U.S. that voted for President Obama twice and then President Trump in 2016.
With the 2020 campaign now in full swing, Amna Nawaz recently visited one couple living in a politically divided house in this politically divided country.
For three years, Lisa Bogan and Jimmy Clowry have lived and worked together, caring for goats and chickens on their ranch in Buckingham County, Virginia.
This is from one of our first trips. We went up to Upstate New York just camping. We used to camp a lot.
Cooks Falls. I told you he would know where.
One of the things I think that really helped seed this relationship in the beginning was commonality.
Does Lisa do all of the cooking?
She does most of the cooking. I make the best egg sandwich.
Jimmy and Lisa now are planning for their future together.
Look at that.
So, the banner, as we were breaking it out, I take a knee, and I'm like, "Will you marry me?"
And I'm holding the ring. And she's chewing food.
… like that.
But not long after Lisa said yes, things changed.
At what point did you first realize, wait a second, we're on two very different pages here?
I think the 2016 election really stamped and, like, resonated with both of us.
Jimmy, a retired Marine, likes to listen to conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh on his hour-long drive to work.
Lisa, a waitress, listens to NPR. Jimmy voted for President Trump. And though he doesn't agree with everything the president says or tweets, he likes what the president's been doing.
The economy's doing well. You know, the military is getting the support that it needs, which is a big, big thing.
Lisa was a Hillary Clinton voter in 2016. Her top issues now are health care and climate change. She says President Trump doesn't represent her or the country.
I am so, so dead against our president. I don't feel like he is someone that we can respect. I don't think Jimmy really grasps how much it upsets me. But there are a lot of issues.
Jimmy, what's it like for you to see her get that upset about the person you voted for?
You know, she's got to — she's got to flow and roll with her emotion. I mean, it's just — it's a way of getting it out, whatever it is. I can't — I don't have any control over that. But…
But he impacts my life directly.
That someone of his demeanor, especially as his actions are towards women. I mean, I just feel like he's disrespectful.
The division here in Lisa and Jimmy's home is actually playing itself out across the entire country. In fact, one study by the Pew Research Center actually measured the partisan political divide in America and found that, over the last 20 years, that gap had more than doubled.
Trump is the most polarizing president we have ever had.
Jocelyn Kiley is the associate director of research at the Pew Research Center. She says couples like Jimmy and Lisa are increasingly rare.
For the most part, people say that their spouses or partner share their same party or lean towards the same party. So about nine in 10 of both Democrats and Republicans say this. So it's certainly not the case that it's common to have a politically mixed couple.
Jimmy and Lisa have learned firsthand some of the challenges of disagreeing politically with a partner. Take immigration.
This was our argument last night. This is what we were arguing about.
You were arguing about immigration last night?
Lisa was deeply opposed to the Trump policy of family separation at the Mexican border. Jimmy's undecided on the president's proposed border wall, but largely agrees with his positions, especially with the increase of migrant families crossing the southern border.
Hold it like that. Put the clip in.
When it comes to gun laws, Lisa says she wants to see more restrictions.
That scares people who like their guns. They don't want more control. It makes them think that someone is going to come and take their guns away. And then how are they going to protect themselves?
I notice you won't even look at Jimmy when you're making these points.
Why is that?
Because I'm afraid.
Afraid of what?
What do you think, Jimmy? What you think about what she's saying?
You know again, that's her — that's her opinion.
It's not the weapon that does it. It's a human. More background checks, I'm not against that. I think it should happen.
We agree on something.
But now there's a new battle brewing on the horizon, the 2020 presidential election.
Is that the number one issue for you, is which of these candidates you think can beat President Trump?
Yes, it is.
Which of these candidates can beat the person that Jimmy is going to vote for?
Yes. Sorry, but yes.
And, Jimmy, you're dead set; you know you're going to vote for President Trump again?
The fact that their union can withstand a deep political divide, they say, should offer hope to the rest of the country, and maybe even some lessons for elected officials on different sides of the aisle.
Try and find the points that you do agree on, maybe, and have more conversations about that.
I wouldn't want to overstep my bounds and say something that's just irresponsible because I want my side to be right.
I don't want anything to be about just being right. I want it to be something that you can both come together with and go in the right positive direction.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz in Buckingham County, Virginia.
Watch the Full Episode
Amna Nawaz joined PBS NewsHour in April 2018 and serves as the program's chief correspondent and primary substitute anchor.
Support Provided By:
Subscribe to Here’s the Deal, our politics newsletter for analysis you won’t find anywhere else.
Thank you. Please check your inbox to confirm.
Additional Support Provided By: