Republican Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in Mississippi on Tuesday, grabbing the state’s six electoral votes for president.
Mississippians have voted for a Democratic presidential candidate just once in the last 64 years, when Georgian Jimmy Carter edged out Gerald Ford by less than 15,000 votes in 1976. Before that, the last Democratic winner was Adlai Stevenson in his failed 1956 campaign against Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Among those who voted for Trump was Regina Lenoir, who cast her ballot at a fire station in Picayune.
“I voted for Mr. Donald Trump today because I feel like he can bring our country back to greatness. We’ve had eight years of division” and it’s time for change, said the 69-year-old retired bookkeeper.
In unofficial returns from the Coast: In Harrison County (with 50 of 58 precincts reporting), Trump led 30,350 to 14,993. In Hancock County (with 25 of 25 reporting), he won with 12,338 to 2,911 and in Jackson County (with 25 of 31 precincts reporting) it was 20,125 to 7,347.
Unlike in other states, there was little public dissent by Republicans to Trump’s nomination. At the Neshoba County Fair in July, GOP politicians emphasized the importance of having a Republican president. Holding the line may have been especially important to U.S. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., who was leading Republican efforts to maintain control of the Senate this year.
Some voters in Republican-leaning areas said they could not endorse Trump, though.
“I don’t like Donald Trump. He’s disgusting to women, talking about grabbing women in their private parts. He’s just scary,” said Judy Wood, who voted at Highland Colony Baptist Church in Ridgeland.
Gov. Phil Bryant campaigned as a Trump surrogate in Mississippi and other states, and Trump held a rally in Jackson on Aug. 24 in conjunction with a fundraiser, a rare general election appearance by a major-party candidate in Mississippi. Trump also held rallies in Madison and Biloxi during the primary campaign. Donald Trump Jr., the nominee’s son, also made a Neshoba County Fair appearance that drew thousands.
William Garbo of Ridgeland said he’s struggled in recent years as a petrochemical engineer because of low oil prices, relying on Social Security to make ends meet. A Trump voter, he said he thought Tuesday’s election was “absolutely the most important election I have ever participated in,” saying he felt he had “no choice” but to support Trump.
“He’s not necessarily the best candidate we could have put out, but he’s the clearest choice of the two that I have,” Garbo said. “It has to do with many issues, one of which would be the economy, the $20 trillion in debt, the lack of jobs, the loss of jobs. I think he’s a businessman and has the acumen to deal with that in the proper way.”
Trump’s victory comes despite performances by President Barack Obama that narrowed the gap between Republicans and Democrats. Obama won 44 percent of votes in 2012. That was a slightly smaller share of the vote than Bill Clinton won during his re-election campaign in 1996, which was the best performance for the party since Carter lost narrowly in 1980. Obama’s improved performance came from strong African-American turnout and support in the state with the highest share of black residents, making it somewhat less supportive of Republican candidates than neighbors such as Alabama.
African-Americans remained reliable supporters of Hillary Clinton Tuesday in Mississippi, citing Bill Clinton’s presidency and her longtime work on Democratic issues.
“It really wasn’t a choice to me today,” said Jennifer Bolar, 55, who voted for Clinton in Picayune. “Trump has never been for all people. He’s been for the rich, the famous. That was the main reason I voted for Hillary. Not because she’s a Democrat, which I am. But because she wants to be a president for all people, not just for some.”
The Sun Herald contributed to this report.