Cecil County Mirrors National Trump Support; Clinton Carries Maryland in Presidential Race

November 9, 2016

Cecil County delivered a sweeping margin to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, reflecting national sentiment, while statewide Maryland voters strongly supported Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump carried Cecil County with 27,579 votes, or 64.4 percent of the total, while Clinton received 12,651 votes, or 29.6 percent. The Libertarian ticket received 1,544 votes (3.6 percent) and the Green Party ticket had support from 533 local voters (1.2 percent.) There were also 497 “other” or write-in votes for president (1.2 percent.)

Statewide, Clinton won 59.6 percent of the vote while Trump received 34.7 percent. Maryland Democrats outnumber Republicans by about a 2-to-1 margin. Cecil County is now a majority Republican county.

Only one small local precinct—the Elkton-based 4-2, which casts ballots at the Cecil Manor Elementary School—gave Clinton a win, with 450 votes to 361 for Trump.

It was also the only local polling place that favored Democratic US Senate candidate Chris Van Hollen (437 votes) over Republican Kathy Szeliga (359). Van Hollen won a landslide statewide victory in the race– with 60 percent of the total vote– to replace the retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski(D).

The same precinct went for Republican Alan McCarthy for Cecil County executive, but his tally of 419 votes was the closest margin countywide over his Democratic opponent, Wayne L. Tome, Sr., who received 413 votes. McCarthy carried every precinct in the county and won overall by about a two-to-one margin.

Clinton’s support in Cecil County was not strong to begin with, after she lost her party’s April 26 primary by 28 votes to Bernie Sanders, a self-professed lifelong “socialist”and independent who sought the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2016.

Statewide, Clinton won the Democratic primary with 62.5 percent, to Sanders’ 33.8 percent, according to state Board of Elections reports. Cecil County was one of only four in the state to favor Sanders over Clinton. All those counties—Allegany, Garrett, and Carroll, as well as Cecil—are generally conservative politically. The other counties have long leaned Republican overall, while Cecil County shifted to a GOP voter registration majority more recently. And local Democrats have usually been more conservative than fellow party members elsewhere in the state.

Given the more conservative views of Democrats in Cecil County and the other three Sanders’ counties, it seems plausible that the pro-Sanders vote was really an anti-Clinton vote. The ‘mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore’ attitude of many pro-Sanders and pro-Trump voters was a reflection of an anti-establishment mood, both nationally and locally.

Trump swamped the GOP primary in Cecil County, with 7,557 votes or more than three times the tally of his closest challenger, Sen. Ted Cruz. (Statewide in the GOP primary, Trump’s margin was smaller, with 54.1 percent of the vote, while more moderate John Kasich scored 23.2 percent and Cruz, the favorite of hard core conservatives and evangelicals, received 19 percent.)

During the general election season, Trump signs peppered county yards and roadsides while Clinton signs were few and far between.

Cecil County largely reflects the national demographic profile of pro-Trump voters: primarily white, lower education level residents.. Cecil County is overwhelmingly white and has a lower educational level than other counties in Maryland, with just 21.8 percent of county residents having a bachelor’s degree. Statewide, the college graduate average is 37.3 percent, according to state and federal data. Cecil County’s per-capita income level is also well below state averages.

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