One local Republican remembers crying the night Mitt Romney lost his bid for the White House.
Another dedicated young Republican spent his entire senior year of college campaigning for Republican candidates.
But neither of those Republicans will be voting for Donald Trump this year.
Months before Donald Trump was officially crowned the GOP’s nominee, some longtime Republicans vowed not to vote for him, because they didn’t believe he was truly a conservative candidate or couldn’t stand his crass style.
As Election Day nears, however, some party loyalists faced with the thought of writing in a little-known name, voting for Hillary Clinton, or pulling the lever for a third party candidate, have changed their mind and been swayed to support Trump.
Others, however, have stuck to their promise.
“I went up to the ballot box, I stood there for 10 minutes trying to figure out what I was going to do,” said Brad Johnson, a University of Cincinnati student who has spent months campaigning for Republicans in down ballot races.
Months before his party’s nominee was officially named, Johnson told WCPO he would be devastated if Trump was the Republican option for the first presidential election he’s old enough vote in.
Last Thursday, he decided to cast a ballot for Evan McMullin, a Republican certified as an independent write-in candidate in Ohio.
“It was not fun,” Johnson said of his first time voting for president. “I kept thinking about how four years ago, if I would have been eligible to vote, I could have voted for someone I actually believed in. The only person I could stomach voting for is someone who really has no chance.”
At the Republican National Convention in Cleveland four months ago, Trump vowed to unite the party. In return, many unenthusiastic Republicans tried to give him a chance.
Yet with just days remaining before Election Day, doubtful Republicans remain unmoved by his overtures.
Michael Wing, a 20-year-old Republican student at Miami University, recalled Trump’s final speech at the RNC.
“He was very energetic,” said Wing, who has knocked on doors for Republican candidates across Butler County. “It actually went quite well.”
Although he was still undecided at the time, during the summer convention he truly considered voting for Trump come Election Day. That all changed after Wing watched the three presidential debates.
“I watched them all live and in their entirety,” Wing said of the debates. “In all three of the debates he participated in, I thought his behavior during the debates was awful. I remember in the first debate, he wasn’t coherent.”
Also factoring into his decision: Wing doesn’t believe Trump, who has a history of supporting Democratic candidates – including Hillary Clinton – is conservative. Allegations of sexual assault and his talk of groping women also helped him make up his mind.
Wing has already voted, yet he refuses to tell anyone who he cast his ballot for. But he does assure friends and family that it wasn’t Trump.
Many of his Republican friends are split on the issue – some have surprised Wing with their newfound support for Trump but others, like him, refuse to back the GOP nominee.
“People have respect for each other,” Wing said. “Even those who do support Trump, they understand why others here do not. “
Some of 29-year-old Andrea Buschmiller’s Republican friends tagged along when she attended Gary Johnson’s rally in Cincinnati Saturday.
Buschmiller started researching Johnson in the spring, when Trump’s nomination became inevitable. After seeing the Libertarian candidate during his Saturday campaign stop, Buschmiller left feeling good about her decision to support him.
Buschmiller, who began volunteering on Republican campaigns at the age of 17, said she’s always liked the libertarian platform but Trump has pushed her further away from the Republican Party. In the future, she’ll be more selective about who she casts a ballot for.
“The party is having a self-crisis moment,” Buschmiller said. “I just don’t think they know who they are right now.”
In 2012, she spent Saturday afternoons talking to voters and handing out fliers on porch stoops for Romney. She was stunned, as she watched results come in on election night, to see him lose.
“Last time, when Mitt Romney lost, I cried into my pillow,” Buschmiller said.
This time, she knows her candidate won’t win the race. She hopes to see him get 10 percent of the vote. Election night will be much different in her house.
“I’m lost on that one,” Buschmiller said of how she’ll feel when she watches the presidential results roll in next Tuesday. “Indifferent. Indifferent – that’s how I’ll feel.”