‘One hell of a feeling’: Local officials in the counties that determined the election explain Trump’s improbable victory

Business Insider
November 24th 2016
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As 3 a.m. was closing in on election night, Ron Ferrance sat in a crowded party for local Republican volunteers in the small town of Dallas, Pennsylvania.

The sun was on the cusp of rising. But Ferrance, the chair of the Luzerne County Republican Party, said no one was leaving.

Against all odds, the volunteers knew what was about to happen: Republican nominee Donald Trump was going to become president-elect, Pennsylvania would be the state that put him over the top, and their county played a monumental role in doing so.

“It was one hell of a feeling,” Ferrance told Business Insider. “It was a good night. I’ve worked on enough losing campaigns, so it was nice to put that one away.”

Trump’s win was the biggest political upset he’d ever seen.

“Oh, absolutely,” Ferrance said. “I’m 46 years old, so I don’t know if it’s going to get bigger than this again before I move on from this world. But it’s the biggest I’ve seen.”

More than 1,100 miles away, Nick DiCeglie had his “wow moment” almost a full 24 hours earlier.

DiCeglie is the chair of the Pinellas County Republican Party, a linchpin county in Trump’s Florida victory. He knew the signs were there for a “big day” at 8:15 a.m. on Election Day.

“We keep track of the absentee ballots being returned, tried to see where we were,” he said. “Going into Election Day [2012], we were down about 326 votes. This time we were down, I want to say a little over 700. We didn’t translate that to being down double — we knew we were going to have a big Election Day, knew Republicans were going to turn out, because we had a state poll that showed 62% of Republicans were going to vote on Election Day.

“That being said, by 8:15, we went from being down 725 votes to being up by over 2,000,” he continued. “And at that point, we were like hang on tight — this is going ot be a big day. By 4:00, we were up over 10,000 votes from just Election Day.”

Both Ferrance’s and DiCeglie’s counties flipped from their 2012 vote margins in favor of President Barack Obama by more than 31,000 votes to favor Trump. Trump won the two states by a roughly 188,000 votes combined.

It was in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida, where the margin of victory for Trump was at times as thin as can be — so much so that Michigan has yet to be officially called — that he won the presidency.

In those states, only a handful of counties made the difference between what could have been — and what was expected, a President-elect Hillary Clinton — and the Trump reality that stunned much of the political world.

Business Insider spoke with party officials and pollsters in the most crucial counties within those states to see how the improbable Trump victory took place.

Posted by zmonahan

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