Editor’s note:This story explains how Snohomish County communities voted on key issues in the November general election. It is drawn from precinct-by-precinct canvass data that was published late Wednesday evening by the county elections office. Ballots continue to be counted but, at this point, the overall patterns and outcomes aren’t expected to change.
Wednesday was the first day in a long time that Rena Corwin, of Everett, woke up feeling optimistic about America’s future.
Like thousands of voters in Snohomish County and tens of millions across the country, she cast her ballot for Donald Trump, believing he would create jobs for a struggling working class and break the shackles of political correctness.
“My heart is literally bursting with pride that my fellow Americans spoke — and spoke so loudly,” she said.
For pastor Dennis ‘DJ’ Rabe, of Lake Stevens, Trump’s political ascension invigorates those wanting to unite an increasingly fragmented America where people are viewed as “these types of Americans and those types of Americans.”
“There is a breath of optimism,” he said. “This is an opportunity to get back to what it means to be an American again.”
However, Trump’s promise of a better and safer tomorrow for American citizens rests on a pledge to treat undocumented immigrants and Muslims, among other, with a rough hand.
Trump supporters brush off critics who say the billionaire businessman fueled his run with race-baiting, immigrant-bashing, misogyny and fear-mongering. They heard a positive and hopeful message that was at times contentious, but not hateful. Anyone who heard otherwise was overreacting or twisting his words, they said.
Corwin, the daughter of lifelong Democrats, said she’s never been politically active before Trump jumped into the presidential race in 2015. She’s a longtime fan of Trump’s reality television show, “The Apprentice,” and backed him from the beginning.
She said she votes regularly and typically splits the ticket, casting ballots for Democrats and Republicans.
“I would have supported Trump even if he ran as a Democrat,” she said.
How we voted
Trump did not win the popular vote in Snohomish County or the state. No Republican presidential candidate has since Ronald Reagan.
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was pulling 54.9 percent statewide in ballots counted through Friday afternoon.
In the county, she has been getting 54.6 percent, which lags Obama’s 57.2 percent in 2012. Trump’s 36.3 percent trails the 40 percent received by Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, according to an analysis of precinct data.
Presidential vote by precinct
While the county went for Clinton, the final tally only tells a fraction of the story. For example, Trump dominated in the rural precincts in and around Darrington. The reverse was true at the opposite corner of the county, where some neighborhoods in Mountlake Terrace and Edmonds went almost exclusively for Clinton.
Trump’s best performance percentage-wise is 61.3 percent in Darrington, a town Obama won in 2012 with 52 percent.
In Arlington, Trump has been getting 50.6 percent four years after Obama won narrowly. Trump is winning in Gold Bar, Granite Falls and Sultan — all of which went for Obama in 2012 — as well as Stanwood and the unincorporated areas in the county’s more rural north end.
The Trump effect
Tuesday’s balloting will put new people in seats of power at every level of government. But the electoral tilling of the political landscape did little to alter the balance of power between the Democratic and Republican parties in Washington.
Voters elected a Democratic governor, as they have every four years since 1984, and a Republican Secretary of State, which they have since the 1960s. Every incumbent member of Congress won re-election and Democratic candidates swept statewide executive offices, as expected. The exception is treasurer, where both candidates were Republicans.
And in the state Legislature, Republicans lost one seat but still control the Senate. Democrats may add a couple members to their existing majority in the House.
“There was little to no Trump factor in Washington state so you can’t read that as a harbinger for future elections,” said Ron Dotzauer, of Snohomish, who runs Strategies 360 consulting firm in Seattle. “I am in the camp that says nothing, for the political parties, changes.”
Yet, there are those who say Trump’s election exposed concerns the Democratic and Republican parties need to address.
For Republicans, it’s nothing new: It’s the inability to win votes in King County.
Trump was getting only 21.6 percent in King County as of Friday. GOP insiders said the damage Trump did to party’s brand there contributed to the defeat of incumbent state Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, by Democratic challenger Lisa Wellman.
And it likely hurt gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant’s vote totals as well. Bryant, whose campaign had its own set of issues, had 31 percent of the vote in King County on Friday. Republican Party leaders generally believe a GOP candidate must get above 40 percent in King County to have a shot at winning the governor’s seat.
On the flip side, Trump has been winning in four rural counties — Mason, Grays Harbor, Cowlitz and Pacific — that President Barack Obama carried in both his elections. The reason is Trump garnered support from blue collar workers and their families, who typically align with the Democratic Party torch bearer.
Grays Harbor is of particular interest. Voters there backed Republicans for governor, lieutenant governor and public lands commissioner four years after supporting Democrats in those jobs. And a Republican may win a House seat in the 19th Legislative District in Grays Harbor for the first time in three decades.
That success sparks questions on whether the GOP should keep trying to expand its reach into urban areas by getting more younger and nonwhite voters to join its ranks. In this state, the focus has been on winning seats in suburbs of King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, seats like the one Litzow just lost.
“Washington state is a microcosm of the bigger issue. The Republican Party has to decide: Do you want to continue to put emphasis on winning those seats or abandon them,” said Chris Vance, who lost to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray this week. He was the first candidate for statewide office in Washington to declare publicly he could not back Trump.
“There are always voices pushing back and saying we should double down on white voters, get more conservatives and more working-class white voters,” he said. “That’s what Trump’s campaign was all about. The (national) party has now moved in that direction.”
Trump’s victory as a populist over ideological conservative candidates marks the end of the Ronald Reagan-Barry Goldwater era of Republican politics, said Rob McKenna, the former two-term state attorney general and 2012 Republican candidate for governor.
While Trump charted a new course to the White House, McKenna said Washington’s Republican Party should not detour from its path.
“We still have our work cut out for us to win statewide,” he said.
For Democrats, the poor performance in those four rural counties, and especially in Grays Harbor County, is a wake-up call as well. The party cannot afford to lose that plank in its base or it could see its grip on power in the state Legislature weakened.
“With both parties, it will be interesting to see how they reconstitute and who will be their leaders,” said Margaret O’Mara, associate professor of history at the University of Washington.
Rabe says he doesn’t know what comes next. He voted for Trump to bust up the status quo.
While it’s easy to promise change on the stump, delivering it is much harder. Plenty of cage-rattling reformers have won office, only to find their ambitious agendas mired in Washington, D.C., sometimes due to political intrigue and perhaps more often by the reality that legislating and rule-making is tedious and difficult work.
And plenty of presidents have made bold pledges on their way to the White House, only to see them gather dust or get tossed altogether during their time in office: George H. W. Bush promised no new taxes; Barack Obama pledged to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.
Trump’s supporters say he’ll make good on his promises.
“I put my hopes and dreams into Trump. A lot of people put their hopes and dreams into Hillary Clinton,” Corwin said.
And her political activism hasn’t ended.
“There’s a lot of work to be done” in Snohomish County,” she said.
Herald writers Scott North and Rikki King contributed to this article.
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @dospueblos.
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