Robeson officially turned red Election Day as Republicans won locally, statewide and nationally. In many races, Republicans won 80 percent of county precincts, including precincts that have never supported Republicans. The county is officially a battleground county in a battleground state.
Trump, Burr and McCrory won over 50 percent countywide with 52 percent turnout. Typically, if Republicans simply win 40 percent of the vote in Robeson, they win statewide. So when election results started reporting, state campaigns began contacting us to confirm Robeson results were true. Winning Robeson means winning statewide.
The GOP surge coupled with the candidates’ hard work swept Danny Britt into office as the first Republican to ever represent the District 13 Senatel seat. Britt is also the first Republican to win a countywide race.
Robeson elected the first Republican commissioner and state legislator to office in 2010. Now Robeson sends Brenden Jones to represent the county in the state legislature, regaining a seat once held by Republican G.L. Pridgen.
Trump, Burr and McCrory’s wins in Robeson mirrored their domination in rural areas across the state aided by Democrats who vote Democrat locally but Republican federally.
McCrory didn’t connect as well with this demographic. The gap between the governor and his opponent now stands at about 5,000 votes. Cooper may be premature claiming victory, however. The final outcome is over a week away.
Of the thousands of absentee ballots, 34 percent are registered GOP, 30 percent Democrat and 34 percent unaffiliated. Then there are tens of thousands of provisional ballots that must be validated before being counted.
When President Obama was elected in 2008, local Republicans took a huge loss. Within two years by 2010, Robeson elected its first Republican county commissioner and state legislator.
In 2012, local Republicans helped elect a Republican governor and that party retain the legislature. Republican David Edge was re-elected to the county commissioner board in 2014.
This year marks not only the first Republican state senator from Robeson, but also the first time the county has cast the majority of its votes for Republicans from president to U.S. Senate to governor as well.
Democratic registration has fallen to 67 percent countywide. This Democratic decline is double the state trend. So it’s obvious Republicans are doing something to move numbers, get Republicans elected and gain strength. But what else happened?
Americans simply wanted the nation fixed and didn’t want a politician. Trump convinced Americans he heard them. Clinton did not.
To paraphrase Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” fame, the presidency was not decided by a nation of (enter Hillary’s favorite stereotype here) racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic or even deplorable people. According to Mike Rowe, disgusted Americans desperate for real change decided it.
This election we’ve learned the era of negative ads is dying as it had no effect on Trump and was Clinton’s primary strategy. Money in modern campaigns has less power as Clinton significantly outspent Trump. We’ve also learned that enthusiasm is more effective than mechanics at generating turnout.
Trump offered what President Obama offered eight years earlier — hope and change. But let’s be clear about the difference.
Voters didn’t vote Trump because he was inspiring, perfect or because they want him to govern like a Republican Obama. They voted for the opposite.
Americans want Trump to move heaven and earth to leave us alone to lead our lives as we see fit. They want cops safe, professors to stop coddling our youth and the Supreme Court saved from liberalism.
They don’t want a perfect leader. They want the right leader. And when government is its own worst enemy it takes an outsider who is bought by no one and thumbs his nose at the establishment quite regularly. Someone who gets it.
Republicans were respectful during President Obama’s historic elections. They never rioted in the streets. For eight years, conservatives felt like liberals probably feel now.
Only today liberals are taking to the streets protesting Trump’s election. They don’t get it and it’s precisely why Trump won.
Phillip Stephens is chairman of the Robeson County Republican Party.