York voters, legislators prepare for change with Trump

David Weissman
  • Donald Trump, elected as president, held a nearly 60,000 vote advantage over Clinton in York County.
  • York voters' reasons for choosing Trump include Second Amendment rights, anti-Hillary and anti-ACA.
  • York legislators preach unity under Trump after voters showed they wanted change in Washington, D.C.

About 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, John Blankenship Jr. was standing near the back of the line at his precinct in East Manchester Township, where he was told he'd likely have to wait at least two hours to cast his vote for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry gets a hug from York County Republican Committee Vice Chair Allison Blew, of Lower Windsor Township, during the Republican Committee election watch, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2016. John A. Pavoncello photo

Blankenship and the rest of the nation would have to wait many more hours into Wednesday morning before finding out that Trump had carried Pennsylvania and been elected as the 45th president of the United States.

While the margin was razor-thin statewide, Trump held a nearly 60,000-vote advantage over Democrat Hillary Clinton in York County.

Voters in the county supporting Trump expressed a wide array of reasons for their support.

It's Trump! Stunning outsider victory for 45th president

Blankenship said he was willing to wait in line to protect his Second Amendment rights and because he believed Trump would be more beneficial for national security.

Savannah Martin, a first-time voter in Dover Township, said she was planning to vote for Clinton all the way up until Election Day, when she read an article pointing out that Trump had promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

"I just saw that all the issues I cared about, I sided with Trump," she said.

Lew Martin, a registered independent also voting in Dover Township, said he didn't like either candidate, but he voted for Trump as a sort of protest vote for what he believed at the time to be an inevitable Clinton presidency.

Voters line up outside the Dover Township Fire Department polling site, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. John A. Pavoncello photo

State Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, said Trump's victory proves that people want change and don't believe the federal government has been working in their favor.

Wagner, who was one of Trump's largest financial donors in the state, said he wasn't surprised Pennsylvania went red for the first time since 1988.

"I saw the momentum," he said. "I saw all the Trump signs. I spoke to the people."

Wagner said Trump's message  resonated with previously disaffected voters who went to polls for the first time in their lives.

York County saw more voters this election (201,203) than in 2012 (182,432) or 2008 (187,090), according to the York County Board of Elections records.

Interactive map: How York County voted

And though the county sided with the Republican nominee in both previous elections, Trump's margin of victory over Clinton was more than 20,000 votes greater than either John McCain's (2008) or Mitt Romney's (2012) margin over President Barack Obama.

State Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, called the victory "a complete game-changer" for American politics because Trump will now take over the nation's highest office with no political experience.

Grove suggested Trump might look at Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf as an example of how to jump from business to politics.

"He'll need to build relationships and alliances and start getting votes for what he wants to accomplish," Grove said, pointing out that Wolf has done a better job of this after a long budget stalemate earlier in his term.

Trump will have a Republican-led House and Senate to work with, though some of those Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, expressed dissent with Trump throughout his campaign.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., speaks to the media after voting at the Zion's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in Old Zionsville, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg, won re-election on Tuesday and said he's looking forward to having a president who will move things forward in unison with Congress instead of just signing executive orders.

State Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, said he believes Trump will spend his first few days in office "putting X's" over most of Obama's executive orders.

Saylor, who said he was at a local IHOP at 3 a.m. watching Trump's acceptance speech, said he believes Trump will be able to bring American people together after a contentious campaign.

Wagner agreed that unity, which Trump talked about in his acceptance speech, was important.

"Now that it's over, he represents all of America," he said.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter @DispatchDavid.