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Outside Of Columbus, Trump's Victory Is A Ray Of Hope

Esther Honig
In Pickaway County, Wendy Gardener and Karen Stochkem say Trump will return the country to its roots in Judeo-Christian values.

Walking around after the election in Circleville, Ohio, it's apparent there's a strong cultural disconnect between the large cities and the rest of the state. 

Here, many people say they don’t recognize the country they read about in the news.

"Patriotism has gone down," says Wendy Gardener. "We’re no longer proud. You have athletes and major role models kneeling and not participating during the anthem. I think that’s disgraceful."  

Thanks in large part to disaffected white voters worried about the economy, Ohio became an instrumental part of Donald Trump's surprising Election Night victory over Hillary Clinton. In few places was that more apparent than Pickaway County, which saw the largest “Trump Jump” of all the counties around Columbus.

Trump won 11 percent more of the vote in Pickaway than Mitt Romney did in 2012, with 71 percent of voters backing Trump. Pickaway has the highest unemployment rate of any county touching Franklin County, something that has led to a great deal of resentment among voters.

“It feels like the bottom has fallen out from under you,” says Michael E. Miller. “I was wondering if I would be able to maintain a good-paying job like that until I retired.”

Credit Esther Honig
Esther Honig
Michael E. Miller is a veteran and was laid off in 2003. He says the factory where he worked went bankrupt and moved to Japan.

Miller, a veteran, was laid off from his job in 2003. He says the factory where he worked went bankrupt and moved to Japan. 

Miller says that there’s still a sense of anger here after the economic recession, when people lost their homes and good paying jobs.

“You was taking CEOs and higher-ups in these industries, and they were having to flip hamburgers,” Miller says. “That’s wrong. Due to the administration at the time, the jobs went overseas.”

A tissue factory did open in Pickaway just this year. It plans to hire 300 employees, but that wasn’t enough for folks like Miller to feel like they were bouncing back.

"Trump is a business man and I feel that he can do some very good things for the economy of the United States," Miller says.

In fact, in every other county that touches Franklin County, support for the Republican presidential candidate was up too: 8 percent in Madison County, 6 percent in Licking County, 5 percent in Delaware County, 4 percent in Fairfield County and 3 percent in Union County.

Trump lost to Hillary Clinton in Franklin County itself, where the percentage of ballots cast was down about three percent for the Republican compared to 2012.

Back in Pickaway, only one Democratic candidate won their race on Tuesday: Sheriff Robert B. Redcliff, who won a second term with 54 percent of the vote.

Credit Esther Honig / WOSU
In Pickaway County, Trump won 11 percent more of the vote than Mitt Romney did in 2012.

“It just happened that this election most independents, it appears, especially in the primary, that they all voted Republican,” Redcliff says.

For other Democrats in the area, their day-after mood seemed glum. One woman at the local Wal-Mart said she campaigned and voted for Clinton, and she just wasn’t ready to talk about it. 

A representative from the local Democratic Party in Pickaway County, when called to talk about Tuesday’s results, simply laughed and hung up the phone.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly named Dwight E. Redcliff as the Pickaway County Sheriff. He served as Sheriff until 2013; his son, Robert B. Redcliff, is Sheriff now.