While Donald Trump’s election as the next President of the United States may have shocked the national media and pollsters, it certainly didn’t go against the wishes of the heavily-Republican Carroll County voting base.
The Republican candidate Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in what many have deemed a major upset by taking an estimated 290 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232. Clinton actually won the popular vote with 61 million votes to Trump’s 60.3 million. There was no controversy in Carroll County, however, where 10,653 people (78.1 percent) unofficially cast ballots for Trump to Clinton’s 2,557 votes (18.7 percent). Independent Gary Johnson received 220 votes (1.6 percent), Evan McMullin tallied 88 votes, Jill Stein garnered 69 votes, and 56 people voted for write-in candidates.
Unofficially, Carroll County voters cast 10,155 votes (75.9 percent) for Republican candidate Morgan Griffith in the 9th District Congressional race. Democrat Derek Kitts claimed 2,727 votes (20.4 percent), Independent Janice Allen Boyd received 469 votes (3.5 percent) and 14 votes were cast for write-in candidates. Those figures were fairly consistent with the rest of the district as Griffith won by 40 percentage points (212,669 votes or 68.59 percent to Kitts’ 87,824 votes for 28.33 percent). Boyd received 9,029 votes in the district, 2.91 percent.
In the presidential race, 13,643 of the registered 19,394 Carroll County voters, or 70.34 percent, cast a ballot in the 2016 election. Bob Martin, Chairman of the Carroll County Republican Party, said Election Day could not have gone any better for local members of the GOP.
“I have never seen the interest in the presidential election in Carroll County than what we just went through. Going by memory, I can tell you since the middle 1970s when I first ran for Pine Creek Supervisor we never had the turnout we had down at Sylvatus or Dugspur or Carroll County Middle School,” Martin said. “The turnouts were like record-breakers.”
In the past, Martin said he couldn’t give away presidential signs if he “put a $5 bill on them.” This year, the demand was so high, he took many trips across the state collecting Trump signs just to fill the need not only in Carroll, but all across the 9th District. The Carroll County Republican Party also ran out of the 2,500 sample Republican ballots it handed out on Election Day. Martin said he felt like many people voted who may not normally because they felt change was badly needed.
“It was the first time I can remember, and a lot of others can remember, where a candidate (Trump) carried every precinct in Carroll County and it wasn’t close anywhere,” he said. “The thing that really touched me more than anything else was I had people that came up to me and said, ‘I just feel the United States is in jeopardy and I have to vote. It may be the last chance to correct things.’ There was such a dang excitement I thought I was at a rock concert the whole time.”
Martin said he considers himself to be of the ‘Reagan party’ of Republicans, meaning the party needs a big tent. Trump reminds him of Ronald Reagan in many ways, he said.
“I’ve been concerned for a long time we are too narrow in our approach. Trump comes along and makes progress in the Hispanic vote, he did better with the black vote, the college educated, some of the things were exactly opposite of what the news was saying. He had a big turnout of women voters,” Martin said. “Every category was an improvement and I thought, hello, this is what the Republican Party needed and it reminded more of Ronald Reagan, a big tent. It’s the most historical, exciting time for me in the county and I have been involved in county politics since I was elected at age 24. It’s just an exciting time and I really think you will see the country come together. It’s one of the most exciting things I have ever witnessed and think it will go down as one of most historical things that has happened in hundreds of years.”
He also believes the national economy will start to turn around, which in turn should help Carroll County.
“We have an industrial park there ready to go,” he said. “There’s not been a lot of interest in expanding business, but I think that will change with the election.”
Carroll County voters also fell closely in line with the rest of the state on the two proposed constitutional amendments. Question 1 relating to right to work failed by a close margin statewide and in Carroll. Virginia voters cast 53.49 percent no votes to 46.51 percent yes votes on the subject, while the proposed amendment failed 6,549-6,171 in Carroll.
Meanwhile, Proposed Constitutional Amendment Question 2 passed by a large margin in Virginia and in Carroll. The amendment allows the General Assembly to provide an option to the localities to exempt from taxation the real property of the surviving spouse of any law-enforcement officer, firefighter, search and rescue personnel, or emergency medical services personnel who was killed in the line of duty, where the surviving spouse occupies the real property as his or her principal place of residence and has not remarried. The measure passed with 79.69 percent voting yes in Virginia. In Carroll, 10,541 citizens voted yes for the measure, while 2,494 voted no.
Allen Worrell can be reacheda t (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN