YELLOW SPRINGS — The morning after the presidential election in eclectic Yellow Springs, Ohio, a dour clientele filed into the Emporium Wines and Underdog Wines storefront on the main street through town.
Many had learned the news when they awakened: Donald Trump would be the next president.
Yellow Springs is a liberal island in the otherwise heavily Republican rural Ohio countryside, and the news was not welcomed.
“It just seems so obvious that it was wrong, but it happened anyways,” said Kathy Moulton, 65, as she stopped in for coffee. She had voted for Hillary Clinton and was in tears.
Behind her in line, Andrew Morris reached for a cup at the coffee bar, then hesitated and shook his head.
“I just woke up and found out that Trump is president,” said the 26-year-old from Yellow Springs. “I think I’m going to go back and get a bottle of liquor. Like, legitimately, I think I’m going to go back there and grab myself a bottle of liquor. A big racist (expletive) running the country,” Morris said.
He wasn’t alone as several others quietly filed past and checked out with bottles of wine and liquor, some wiping away tears. It wasn’t yet 10 a.m.
This little town of 3,500 where 89 percent of the votes were for Hillary Clinton illustrates the pendulum swing in Ohio politics, as measured in levels of disgust.
Polling done through 2016 for the Your Vote Ohio project, a collaborative effort of Ohio news organizations, showed that as the summer began, 75 percent of Trump supporters were disgusted with the state of politics in the country — a 10-point lead over the disgust-level of Clinton supporters at 65 percent.
After the election, the numbers not only flipped, the disgust gap between the two sides widened by four points. Seventy-four percent of Clinton supporters were disgusted, and the level of disgust among Trump supporters had plummeted from 75 to 60 percent.
Presidential elections are like that. Voters liked Obama because they desired change, according to multiple polls. Likewise, in the Ohio post-election survey, 54 percent of Trump supporters gave “change in the White House” as their number one reason for their selection. For Clinton supporters, change was important to only 4 percent. Their number one reason cited was experience in public office, 39 percent.
The latest poll was conducted beginning the day after the election through Dec. 10. Contacted were 800 of the nearly 2,000 who were part of a statewide pool created in June for repeat interviews. The margin of error is 3.5 percent.
What’s unusual about this election, though, is the continuing high level of disgust, and changes within the numbers from the first poll in June to the post-election survey.
The biggest shift toward satisfaction occurred among Trump supporters, among them groups defined as women, white, with income below $50,000, or a high school diploma or less.
The growth in disgust was particularly marked among female supporters of Clinton, up 23 percentage points. Sixty-one percent of Clinton supporters overall said they were very uncomfortable with how women were discussed during the election.
Dishonesty in politics
Two out of three Ohioans remain disgusted with the state of national politics.
“My number one main thing would be the dishonesty over the jobless rate,” said Linda McQuistion, 60, an engineer with a doctorate, living in Hartville near Akron. “That people, the government, and mainstream media portrayed it as, ‘unemployment numbers were down,’ but the job participation rate was obviously not. And people who are living through that understand it. I myself, my job was with the state of Ohio and it was abolished. And after a while I basically was off unemployment and so I’m not on the rolls anymore. So I understand that, and a lot of people around me, whether they’re blue collar or white collar, it was shocking to see how many people that I knew that were out of work.”
Donna Brill, who participated in the poll, voted for Trump. The 57-year-old from Guernsey County said she had grown disgusted with the direction of the country and believes Trump will bring change to immigration, drugs, jobs and national debt that the country so desperately needs. She said Clinton had her chance in politics when her husband, Bill, was president.
The disgust question in the Your Vote Ohio poll asked respondents to choose a number from 1 to 10 to best reflect their level of disgust, with 1 being highest and 10 complete satisfaction. In June, 32 percent selected the highest level of disgust: One.
When asked again after the November election, the percent choosing the highest level declined slightly to 28 percent.
Michael Darbyshire, from Ross County, blames the media.
“Rather than just having your typical evening news that just tried to report the facts in an unbiased way, we have these news outlets like Fox News on the right side and then you have MSNBC on the left side and they are obviously, in their decisions and in their reporting, biased, and this has a negative impact on our whole process, on the weight of the issues in the campaign,” said Darbyshire.
The post election poll showed 48 percent of Ohio voters felt that the news media were very responsible for the poor state of American politics.
“The news media is frequently blamed by all sides in political campaigns,” said John Green, director of the Bliss Institute. “The number of people who value objectivity in news coverage appears to be declining as politics has become more polarized between conservatives and liberals.”
JoJo Clark, 64, of Lima is very invested in politics, watching a lot of CNN and MSNBC during the election. For her, the feeling of disgust with this year’s presidential campaign and subsequent election can be largely attributed to Trump.
“I know that Ohio is a Republican state, especially Lima, but we thought Hillary was in the bag,” she said. “The disgust right now is with the cabinet he’s choosing, like Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State. The disgust is just coming through the rhetoric that has followed him and the scrutiny that has come to him with the lies.”
Kurt Wilkins, 53, of Lima did not go into detail on his thoughts on the campaign, simply emphasizing that he voted for Trump. He did express disappointment with reactions to the election.
“I can’t understand why people are putting Trump down,” he said. “He’s not even in office yet. Let him get in, first.”
Wilkins is optimistic about the prospects of a Trump presidency, saying he hopes to see “marked improvement” under his leadership.
“I voted for Trump because I like guns,” he said.
As for where he gets his news, Wilkins pointed to one source.
“I watch Fox because it’s the only one that’s accurate,” he said.
Back at the Yellow Springs coffee shop, Christina Roberts, 62, and her husband Doug, 60, were among many who awoke Nov. 9 to the Trump win.
“Maybe this will be good for Yellow Springs,” Christina Roberts said. “Maybe Yellow Springs will become a center for sanity. As things fall into chaos around the region maybe people will turn to Yellow Springs for guidance because we have a little intelligencia here and is looking forward and not back.”
Reach Ashley Bunton, a reporter at the Washington Court House Record Herald, at [email protected]