President-elect Donald Trump smiles as he arrives to speak at an election night rally Wednesday in New York.
President-elect Donald Trump smiles as he arrives to speak at an election night rally Wednesday in New York.

November 9, 2016

Donald J. Trump, the billionaire New York real-estate mogul and political outsider who rocked the establishment with a 500-day campaign for the White House, defied a king’s ransom of pre-election polls Tuesday night, securing the presidency with outsized rural turnout and surprise support around the nation.

Carroll County, where Trump captured 63 percent of the vote, and the region around it, factored into the Republican’s win.

Trump won Iowa with 51 percent of the vote to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s 42 percent. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, a former Republican governor of New Mexico, pulled 3.8 percent in the Hawkeye State.

Meanwhile, a Republican wave swept the state with U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley and U.S. Reps. Steve King, David Young and Rod Blum winning re-election.

Longtime State Sen. Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, the majority leader of the Senate with strong ties to Carroll’s Gronstal family, lost re-election as the Republicans turned the Democratic-controlled Iowa Senate.

Nationally, Republicans held the U.S. House and Senate.

In the Carroll region, Trump ran up big numbers.

He won 71 percent of the vote in Sac County. 63 percent in Audubon and Guthrie counties, 67 percent in Calhoun and Crawford counties and 59 percent in Greene County.

“I would be completely disingenuous if I said I was not surprised,” said Craig Williams, chairman of the Carroll County Republican Party. “I really felt we would have Iowa on our side, but several other states like Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida would more likely go for Hillary.”

Williams said Clinton fatigue clearly emerged as stronger than polls suggested.

“I think people are tired of the Hillary Clinton-type politician and are ready for something different,” Williams said. “And Donald Trump is clearly something different.”

Williams, a strong Trump supporter who attended the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this past summer, said he hopes to see a female president in the future.

“Unfortunately, America has to wait a little longer for a woman president,” Williams said. “Fortunately, Hillary Clinton won’t be the first woman president.”

Williams and other Republicans attended a jubilant celebration of the evening at B&S’s 529 in downtown Carroll. A scattering of dejected Democrats watched from party headquarters just east of the Carroll Public Library.

“I’ve been thinking about what to say. What can you say?” said Tim Tracy, chairman of the Carroll County Democratic Party.

“This is obviously not what we expected.”

Tracy said the Democratic Party’s performance in rural Iowa, and the nation, is catastrophic.

Tracy had advocated for more rural outreach from the party, and endorsed former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley in the Iowa caucuses.

“We didn’t do a very good job of talking to white working people about how we have their backs,” Tracy said.

King won in the sweeping U.S. House 4th District with 69 percent of the vote in a contest with Kim Weaver, a social worker from Sheldon. King won 62 percent in Carroll County.

Grassley won re-election with 60 percent of the vote statewide in a race with former Democratic Lt. Gov. Patty Judge of southern Iowa. Grassley won 70 percent of the vote in Carroll County.