Trump wave sweeps nation while Summit County Democrats stay dug in |

Trump wave sweeps nation while Summit County Democrats stay dug in

Jack Queen
Incumbent Bruce Brown beat Republican Bruce Carey and independent Sanam Mehrnia with 42 percent of the vote.
Source: Colorado Secretary of State |

The dust has settled in what was perhaps the most fractious and all-consuming national election in recent memory, one that dominated national headlines for well over a year and featured the two most disliked candidates in modern history.

In the end, Republican Donald Trump trounced Hillary Clinton, pulling off a spectacular upset that flouted the predictions of pollsters, media organizations and even some top Trump aides. The firebrand Republican beat Clinton in states that weren’t even considered to be in play on the eve of the election, including Wisconsin and Michigan.

The industrial heartland proved key to Mr. Trump’s reshaping of the electoral map, where he rolled back Democratic gains in states won by President Obama in 2008 and 2012, including Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

If Trump maintains his leads in Michigan and Arizona, it would bring his Electoral College haul to 306, which would be the widest margin of victory for a Republican candidate since George H.W. Bush’s crushing defeat of Michael Dukakis in 1988.

Trump’s strategy of turning out non-college educated whites in record numbers appears to have been resoundingly successful: Exit polling conducted by Pew Research shows Trump winning 67 percent of non-college whites compared to just 28 percent for Clinton, the largest exit polling gap since the 1980s.

Clinton captured big metropolitan areas by wide margins, lifting her to a projected popular vote victory as of Wednesday afternoon. But Trump mostly dominated across the middle of the country and much of the Midwest, notching comfortable wins in counties from the Appalachians to the Sierra foothills.

Down-ballot Republicans also had good nights on Tuesday, despite hand-wringing that they might be dragged down by a Trump implosion. Instead, the GOP will maintain its majorities in both the House and Senate, ending six years of divided government since the party swept into the House in 2010.

Staying power

The Rocky Mountains marked the end of Trump’s westward march, but he only lost the state by 50,000 votes, roughly the population of Summit County, where Clinton bested him 9,502 to 5,064 (Libertarian Gary Johnson picked up 983).

Democrats ran the table in local elections, indicating a leftward lean among Summit independents that form the county’s largest voting bloc. That’s reflective of a statewide trend: In the past three presidential elections, more Republican ballots were returned than Democratic, but the GOP candidates still lost the state.

Democratic incumbents for sheriff, district attorney and two county commissioner spots successfully fended off challengers. County commissioners Thomas Davidson and Karn Stiegelmeier won with comfortable majorities against independent opponents, winning by 13 percent and 24 percent, respectively. Davidson drew 7,049 votes, while his two opponents, Bill Wallace and Jonathan Lerner, netted a combined 6,896.

Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons and District Attorney Bruce Brown, who faced Republican rivals, more narrowly escaped ouster. In the county’s tightest race, FitzSimons eked out a win by 613 votes against Republican Derek Woodman, whose vote total nearly doubled the amount of registered Republicans in the county.

Democratic District Attorney Bruce Brown won re-election in a three-way race between Republican Bruce Carey and independent Sanam Mehrnia, earning 18,271 to their respective 17,286 and 7,151. Summit County was roughly split three ways, with Brown taking 5,725, Carey 4,938 and Mehrnia, who practices law in Summit, bringing up the rear with 4,016.

At the state level, control of the Colorado Legislature will remain split, with Republicans retaining their one-vote advantage in the Senate and Democrats expanding their three-seat majority in the House.

Democratic state Senate candidate Emily Tracy, a Breckenridge local, performed well in Summit County but ultimately lost her bid to unseat Senator Randy Baumgardner, who coasted to victory 54 percent to 46 percent. It was Tracy’s second challenge to Baumgardner, and she enjoyed generous financial backing from the Colorado Democratic Party. The incumbent, however, was carried by wins in five of the district’s seven counties.

Representative Millie Hamner also fared well in Summit, but matched that performance across her district, beating Republican Bob Schutt of Crested Butte 56 to 44 percent.

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