Sam Altman runs a prestigious Silicon Valley startup incubator, Y Combinator. He did not vote for Donald Trump. But he wanted to learn about how the rest of America thinks and feels. So he spent months traveling the country, interviewing Trump supporters. He published his findings on his personal blog and has allowed Business Insider to publish them here as well.
After the election, I decided to talk to 100 Trump voters from around the country. I went to the middle of the country, the middle of the state, and talked to many online.
This was a surprisingly interesting and helpful experience — I highly recommend it. With three exceptions, I found something to like about everyone I talked to (though I strongly disagreed with many of the things they said). Although it shouldn’t have surprised me given the voting data, I was definitely surprised by the diversity of the people I spoke to — I did not expect to talk to so many Muslims, Mexicans, Black people, and women in the course of this project.
Almost everyone I asked was willing to talk to me, but almost none of them wanted me to use their names — even people from very red states were worried about getting “targeted by those people in Silicon Valley if they knew I voted for him.” One person in Silicon Valley even asked me to sign a confidentiality agreement before she would talk to me, as she worried she’d lose her job if people at her company knew she was a strong Trump supporter.
I wanted to understand what Trump voters liked and didn’t like about the president, what they were nervous about, what they thought about the left’s response so far, and most importantly, what would convince them not to vote for him in the future.
Obviously, this is not a poll and not “data.” But I think narratives are really important.