LIMA — While the race to the White House proved to be very close between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, this region proved to be a sea of red for Trump and the Republican Party, helping the GOP win in the Buckeye State.
West central Ohio had a strong Republican showing in the presidential race, with Allen County voting nearly 67 percent, Van Wert County voting 76 percent, Auglaize voting just more than 79 percent and Putnam County voting almost 80 percent for Trump. With 18 out of the 21 precincts reporting in Hardin County, Trump had garnered just more than 71 percent of the vote.
In Lima, reaction to the two candidates was mixed as voters exited polling stations. Some voted as they traditionally do, such as Clinton voter Bessie Shears, 73, who said, “I’m a Democrat and I always will be a Democrat.” Some, however, like Sarah Stalnaker, 32, voted for Trump, even though she said she usually votes Democrat.
“I just think Hillary lies about everything,” she said. “Trump is more blunt and straight to the point. It’s time to get this country back in order, and I think he’ll be good for trade.”
Russell Gibson, 47, of Ada, is also a registered Democrat but decided to vote for Trump because of his disapproval of Clinton’s handling of the 2012 incident in Benghazi, Libya.
“I can’t swing on the vine” and vote the party line, he said. “And this was a woman I used to support.”
That sentiment was also echoed in Putnam, Auglaize and Van Wert counties, with voters seeing Trump as a fresh start.
“I wanted him to drain the swamp,” Quinn Kaufman, 25, of Ottawa, said. “It’s time for a new start.”
“I want [the Constitution] to stay the way it is,” Don Martindale, of St. Marys, said. Clinton “wants to take guns away, and a lot of people don’t like that.”
“I’m sick of politicians and any change would be better,” Storm Cheney, 19, of Van Wert, said.
Not all of the support for Trump was as exuberant, as some said they saw the choice as one between the lesser of two evils.
“I picked the lesser of two evils that I thought had a chance to win it,” Steven Bossie, 21, of Van Wert, said. “I would have liked to have seen a third-party candidate get in, but I don’t see that happening just yet.”
Clinton “just doesn’t do it for me,” Jill Elliott, 46, of Ottawa, said. “My big thing was abortion.”
Despite being in the minority, there were several in the region who were convinced that Clinton would still make a better choice than Trump.
“I come from a family of New Deal Democrats,” Robin Willoughby, of St. Marys, said. “With her experience, she can do the job.”
“Hillary Clinton is going to be the president who makes a difference in our country,” Dashanna McClellan, 33, of Lima, said. “I think she will continue to make a difference like what [President Barack] Obama did.”
In the end, however, a majority of voters in this area, such as 32-year-old Caleb Tobe, of Ottawa, felt the best chance for making a difference would come from the Republican ticket.
“I think he’s going to make more of a change than Hillary,” he said.
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.