Friday, September 4, 2020

Ohio County Tells Story of the Seismic Shift of Working-Class Voters Toward GOP

Ron Spickler is sitting on the front porch of his modest Mahoning County brick home eating dinner and watching the world drive by the busy little state routes that intersect and pass his front door.
On his lawn are a variety of signs that tell the story of Spickler — at least, the political story. There is a Trump-Pence 2020 sign, a Trump flag, a Trump Country sign, and an Ohio for Trump banner. There is also a sign thanking healthcare workers for their service and, of course, a "Beware of Dog" sign for good measure. Spickler says children come by — he assumes they are children by the videos he has of them — and take his signs down constantly. He puts them right back up “just to mess with them.”
Spickler was a lifetime Democrat. He voted for Barack Obama, then switched to Donald Trump in 2016. He cannot wait to show up to vote for him in November and is quick to note the divide in this country. He hopes whoever wins will try to repair it.
Five miles due north at the Mahoning County Republican headquarters on Market Street, Sher Wenowitz has been there most of the day making calls, handing out Trump-Pence signs, and signing people up who walk through the door asking how they can get involved.
Wenowitz also voted for Obama, also left the Democratic Party in 2016, and until this year had never volunteered for a political campaign in her life. “I talked to my husband, asked him if we could get by if I retired, at least short term so I could volunteer at the campaign headquarters," she said. "He said, 'Yes,' and on December 31st, I put my real estate license on inactive and have devoted my time to getting President Trump reelected."
If there were an epicenter of the shift in our political parties, Mahoning County, Ohio, would be it. Mahoning County was the home of blue-collar working Democrats, both black and white, who worked the factories and manufacturing powerhouses that once dotted the valley like bulking dinosaurs peering out of the softly rolling hills.
A combination of automation, technology, and bad trade deals that benefited China and Mexico took those jobs away and left a scarred landscape not just stripped of factories, but of homes, barbershops, churches, and hope. It also eroded that support for Democrats over the years, not noticed until the stunning shift that played out here in November 2016.
Trump did not win ‘the valley,’ but he came shockingly close. Clinton won the county with 49% of the vote; Trump had 46.9%. In contrast, four years earlier, President Barack Obama crushed Mitt Romney by 28 percentage points, earning more than 63% of Mahoning County’s vote.
This time, Republicans plan on making the shift whole. If Trump flips the county, it will become the poster child for the slow drift of the working class into the Republican Party.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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