By David Skolnick
Though Democrat Hillary Clinton eked out a three-point victory in the presidential race in Mahoning County, she would have been crushed by Republican Donald Trump if not for Youngstown.
The county’s largest city delivered 17,905 of Clinton’s 56,188 votes in Mahoning. That’s 32 percent of her total vote in Mahoning, one of only seven counties Clinton won in Ohio.
Trump received 52,808 votes in Tuesday’s election in Mahoning, but won Ohio and the national election.
It was only the third time since 1936 the Democratic presidential nominee failed to get 50 percent of the county’s vote, and the only time in the last 80 years in which that candidate won Mahoning County without getting at least half of the vote.
Clinton got 49.34 percent compared to 46.37 for Trump with other candidates making up the difference.
In the two other cases, in 1956 and 1972, Mahoning County voted for the Republican incumbent for president over the Democratic challenger.
Besides Youngstown, Clinton only won in Austintown, Struthers, Lowellville and Campbell based on an analysis by The Vindicator of raw precinct-by-precinct county results.
Besides Youngstown, only Campbell delivered for her as she beat Trump by 38 percentage points in that city.
She only won by 276 votes, 6.2 percentage points, in Struthers – such a heavily Democratic city that most years Republicans can’t even find candidates to run for local seats there.
Clinton beat Trump by 597 votes in Austintown. That’s a 3.4 percent margin of victory.
In Lowellville – which has a much smaller population than Youngstown, Austintown and Struthers – Clinton got 299 votes to 260 for Trump, a 7 percent margin of victory.
“Struthers and Austintown are indicative of the Trump movement,” said Bill Binning, the retired chairman of Youngstown State University’s political science department – since renamed politics and international relations department – and a former county Republican Party chairman. “Usually national Republicans get crushed in those two communities. That he won precincts in Struthers is amazing. There aren’t any Republicans in Struthers.”
Struthers, a working-class city, and Austintown, with a strong union presence, have been solid Democratic areas for decades, Binning said.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama got 63.52 percent of the county vote compared to 35.15 for Republican Mitt Romney.
Obama didn’t lose a single precinct in Youngstown, Austintown and Struthers.
While Clinton also swept every precinct in Youngstown, she won 9 of 12 in Struthers – winning one by 3 votes and losing another by 1 vote – and in Austintown, she won 18 precincts, lost 14 and tied in 1.
“I’m surprised it was so close in Struthers,” said Mark Munroe, county Republican Party chairman. “If there was a heart of crossover country for Trump it would be Struthers.”
Also, Clinton’s 55.6 percent margin of victory in Youngstown paled in comparison to Obama’s 71.7 percent margin in the city four years earlier.
David Betras, county Democratic Party chairman, said the party had a “special emphasis” on Youngstown, and he “is never pleased with 69 percent” overall turnout in the city. “I’d like 80 percent turnout.”
But there were still some huge blowouts for Clinton in the city, particularly on the East Side.
In the 1st Ward, Precinct D, she won 549 to 15. In the 2nd Ward, she won 594 to 39 in Precinct E and won 506 to 21 in Precinct C.
The closest races were in the 5th Ward’s C Precinct 410 to 391 on the West Side and in the 7th Ward’s D Precinct 322 to 278 on the southeast side.
Clinton lost Boardman by 2 percent, doing far worse than Obama who won the township four years earlier.
In 2012, Obama won 45 of 47 precincts. The county board of elections has since reduced the number of precincts to 37. Clinton won only 15 of them and tied in one.
“It’s a little bit surprising that she lost Boardman,” said Paul Sracic, chairman of YSU’s politics and international relations department. “She should have done better there in the higher-income areas of Boardman.”
She also lost to Trump by 15.5 percentage points in Poland Township, winning only two of its 11 precincts. In 2012, when there were 16 precincts in the township, Obama won 10 of them.
In 2012, Obama also beat Romney in Coitsville, Jackson, Milton, New Middletown, Washingtonville and Craig Beach.
Clinton lost all of those communities in Tuesday’s election.
“One of the dynamics of this election is for the most part those are not Republican voters; they were Donald Trump voters,” Betras said. “What [Mahoning Democrats] do well is get our voters out. What that did was help him in the election. We had a very big turnout that voted for our [down-ticket] Democratic candidates and a lot of them voted for Trump.”
As Romney did in 2012, Trump easily won the affluent suburbs of Canfield – city and township – and Poland village as well as the more rural communities of Beaver, Beloit, Berlin, Ellsworth, Goshen, Green, Sebring, Smith, Springfield and Washingtonville.
“Canfield and Poland are Republican as are the other areas,” Sracic said. “Essentially, these were Republicans coming home.”
The biggest margins of victory for Trump were in Green with 48.2 percent, Beloit with 49.6 percent, Smith with 52 percent and Goshen with 52.8 percent.
Less than 5,000 people total, however, voted for Clinton or Trump in those four communities combined.