Along A Milwaukee Bus Line, Voters Share Frustration On a route connecting the liberal inner city with conservative suburbs, the political landscape runs the spectrum. But many along the way hold similar frustrations with the election.

Along A Milwaukee Bus Line, Voters Share Frustration

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Four days remain until Election Day and the polls are pretty tight. The electoral map all along has seemed unfavorable for any Republican including Donald Trump. Now Trump's hope is to cobble together wins in a string of swing states so that anything is possible.


And our colleague, David Greene, is in one of those key swing states - Wisconsin. We caught up with him at a bus stop in Milwaukee.

Hey, David.

DAVID GREENE, BYLINE: Hey, Renee. How are you?

MONTAGNE: Pretty good. Fall day there, I imagine?

GREENE: Oh, it's beautiful, yeah. The leaves are changing. I mean, it's really cool.

MONTAGNE: Oh, great. So I presume that's why you chose that spot?


GREENE: Well, it's one reason. No, it's - so I'm just northwest of downtown Milwaukee. And it's one of these classic aging neighborhoods in a big Midwestern city. There's, you know, old brick storefronts. We passed a fried fish place, a used car lot, a child care center. And so we're at this bus stop. And I actually see the bus coming right now. It's bus route 61.

And if you boarded this bus, it would take you from this urban area where Hillary Clinton has to turn out a lot of votes if she's going to win Wisconsin, to a really Republican area in the suburbs where Donald Trump has got to turn out votes.

MONTAGNE: Pretty amazing to have that stark political contrast between red and blue, I mean, just within miles, even neighborhoods.

GREENE: And that is really the story of Milwaukee in many ways. This is one of the most segregated cities in the United States. And so I've got to explain this. This line was actually set up to help people who are living here in the city get jobs, largely retail jobs out in the suburbs.

And the other night I met a woman whose livelihood really depends on this bus. She lives in the city of Milwaukee, but works at a Wal-Mart at the other end of this bus line up in the very conservative suburbs.

So, Brianna, kind of tell us where we are.

BRIANNA JORDAN: Germantown Wal-Mart.

GREENE: And you just finished a shift?

JORDAN: Yes (laughter).

GREENE: So this is Brianna Jordan. She's 24. She was doing janitorial work in Milwaukee's public schools but just moved here to the Wal-Mart deli - better pay and also benefits. But the commute is rough, an hour-and-a-half in each direction, most on this 61 bus. By the time she makes it home tonight, her four little kids might be already asleep.

GREENE: We have to go? Is it...

JORDAN: Oh, I think so.

AUTOMATED VOICE: Route 61. Appleton-Keefe.

GREENE: The bus is empty and I can't tell if the driver's listening or not when I bring up politics. Brianna is voting for Hillary Clinton. She does have doubts but she feels like Clinton will do more to help a single mother of four like her, who's living paycheck-to-paycheck.

How have you felt about her during the course of this whole election?

JORDAN: Sometimes I feel like she thinks she can help us. And then sometimes I feel like she's just saying what she think we need to hear to get our votes.

GREENE: What would you and your family need right now, like, what would be the top thing that you would ask for from a president?

JORDAN: Like, affordable housing for people. Like, in order for us to afford our house it has to be, like, in the hood or something like that. Don't nobody want to live there and be troubled, like, coming home this late and have to worry about if somebody's out there doing something.

GREENE: And you couldn't afford to live out in this area near work?

JORDAN: (Laughter) No.

GREENE: So this is Brianna's world. She rides this bus to and from work. It's really her lifeline. And as she rides each night listening to music, she passes through a different world right outside the bus window.

It's a world with different political leanings but many of the same frustrations. Without ever meeting them, she passes by these regulars at DJ's Goalpost, a suburban sports bar right along bus route 61.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: I know what I'm voting for.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: I already voted.

GREENE: The owner is Don Matovich.

DON MATOVICH: You want to know the truth?

GREENE: We want to know the truth.

MATOVICH: Come on in.

GREENE: Can we do that? Is that all right? Oh, thank you.

The bar is packed with TVs, pool tables and photos of everyone who has ever played for the Green Bay Packers. I told Don that we had heard this was a pretty conservative area.

MATOVICH: Hey, anybody here got a good Trump point of view that would like to help us out?

GREENE: He's scanning the bar.

MATOVICH: Trump point of view?

GREENE: Now Don, for his part, he's so fed up with politics he's refusing to vote. But he introduces us to his buddy Darryl Lawhorn.

MATOVICH: Tell him where you're making your income right now.

DARRYL LAWHORN: My income right now is with him.

GREENE: Yeah. Darryl's been making money helping out at the bar. His private security company has been struggling. Darryl is voting for Donald Trump. He has doubts, but he feels like Trump must know how to make the economy work for a small business owner like him. But to Darryl, this election comes down to which candidate is the most honest.

LAWHORN: He admits to a lot of what he said. He ain't going to stand there and try to blow smoke up your rear end. Yeah, I did that or I did this or like on his taxes, yeah, I didn't pay taxes but there were loopholes. Everything I did was legal.

Where Hillary Clinton, she denies this, she denies that. And some of the facts are, No, you did do this and you did do that.

GREENE: Neither of you sound very excited about Tuesday.

MATOVICH: Go ahead, Darryl.

LAWHORN: Yeah, it's - it ain't exciting because I feel we got two people who actually are not qualified to be the commander in chief, neither one of them. And that's what makes it tough.

GREENE: Now, Donald Trump needs voters like Darryl. This community right outside Milwaukee - Menomonee Falls - is solid Republican turf. Don, the bar owner, says things have been changing here, like that new bus route 61.

MATOVICH: So the busing has helped the employment out here for people from the inner city. And everybody out here has accepted it. There are more minorities working in Menomonee Falls in the last 10 years, probably ever. Crime's gone up a little bit, but it ain't just from the blacks, it's from everybody. Everybody's poor.

GREENE: So how close are we to home?

JORDAN: Oh, I still got a while to go.

GREENE: Really?


GREENE: Let's finish the commute home with Brianna. It really does feel like a different world on that bus. Or not, I mean, she's also frustrated about the economy. She feels forgotten by politicians. I ask her about Donald Trump.

His slogan, that he wants to make the country great again, I mean, do you think the country's great right now?

JORDAN: No. There's nothing great about this. If everything was great, No one in this country would be struggling. It wouldn't be people out here with nothing to eat. It wouldn't be none of that. I work at Wal-Mart. All the food that we serve out there, we throw it away at the end of the day when people could be eating that food. That's not great.

GREENE: But she thinks Donald Trump is just all talk. As for Hillary Clinton, she just hasn't reached a place where she completely trusts her.

JORDAN: It's just the whole thing. It's just iffy about everything.

GREENE: So are you going to vote for her?

JORDAN: I probably will still vote for her. I still have that little feeling that she can help, probably more than Donald Trump. She seems like she can help a little.

GREENE: We are finally in the city and Brianna gets off bus 61 around 9 in the evening. And now you go - where do you go from here?

JORDAN: I get on the 23.

GREENE: Another bus?

JORDAN: Yes, another bus. I get on that bus and I go to North Avenue, which is the 21 and that takes me home (laughter).

GREENE: Brianna Jordan is hoping to transfer to a Wal-Mart much closer to home sometime soon, maybe avoid that long bus ride.

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