Trump’s victory in Mahoning Valley is one for record books
By David Skolnick
What Republican Donald Trump did in Trumbull County and nearly pulled off in Mahoning County hasn’t been done in 88 years.
Trump became the first non- incumbent Republican to win Trumbull County since Herbert Hoover beat Democrat Alfred E. Smith in 1928 by 52.6 percentage points.
While Trump’s unofficial margin of victory in Trumbull County was 6.4 percentage points, it’s perhaps as impressive because Trumbull and Mahoning counties were solid Republican counties before going Democratic in the 1936 election.
“We did our part in Trumbull County and then some,” Trumbull County Republican Party Chairman Randy Law said. “We exceeded our expectations. I thought we’d get to 48 percent and she’d eke out a win. We’re excited. It was a cross section of Republicans, Democrats and independents involved in the campaign.”
Between Hoover’s 1932 re-election and Trump, only two Republicans – both incumbents – have won Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
That occurred when Dwight D. Eisenhower was re-elected in 1956 and Richard M. Nixon was re-elected in 1972.
Clinton received 49.3 percent of the vote in Mahoning County to 46.4 percent for Trump.
“She didn’t win by the margin I’d like, but we still won for her,” said Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras. “We won for Hillary [Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee] and all of our local candidates won so I feel good. What can I tell you? She didn’t do poorly here. She won in a tough race. He was a change candidate who ran on trade, which really resonated here, but she still won.”
Except for Adlai Stevenson in 1956 and George McGovern in 1972, Clinton became the first Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 not to reach 50 percent in Mahoning County.
“There was a groundswell from the get-go from when Donald Trump won the Republican nomination,A and it continued through the general election,” said Dan Polivka, Trumbull County Democratic Party chairman. “People liked him because he’s not a politician even though he was active in politics.”
When asked if Clinton was a weak candidate, Polivka declined to comment.
Mark Munroe, Mahoning County Republican Party chairman, said he was “excited by the results of the presidential race in Mahoning County. There’s no doubt we’re very pleased with how well Donald Trump did in Mahoning County. There was huge support for Donald Trump in Mahoning County and in Ohio.”
Trump ended up beating Clinton by 8.7 percentage points statewide.
“We’ve known for months that something unusual was happening with Donald Trump in Mahoning County from the March primary when 6,000 Democrats crossed over to vote in the Republican primary and about 21,000 unaffiliated voters also voted in the Republican primary,” Munroe said. “Not all of it was for Donald Trump, but a lot was, and the net effect is there was a lot of interest in Valley voters looking for new leadership in Washington.”
Columbiana County last voted for a Democrat in 1996 when Bill Clinton, Hillary’s husband, was re-elected over Republican Bob Dole.
But Tuesday’s results were the largest landslide for a Republican in Columbiana County since 1928 when Hoover got 77.3 percent.
Trump received 68 percent of the vote in the county compared with 26.9 percent for Clinton.
Even Eisenhower only got to 66.5 percent in 1956.
“It’s disappointing, but we knew we were facing an uphill battle and things that are out of your control,” said Nick Barborak, Columbiana County Democratic Party chairman. “There’s been an outcry against the establishment and the results speak to that. It’s not entirely surprising.”
Columbiana County Republican Party Chairman Dave Johnson said the results are exactly what he expected.
“During the primary, registration in our county went from 50-50 Republican to Democrat to 70-30 in favor of Republicans,” he said. “If you look at the Columbiana County number, he took 68 percent. We won by as large a margin as I’ve seen since I’ve been chairman. To win by more than 40 points is pretty unusual. It was a pretty good night.”