Moving forward with President-elect Trump

DOVER — After perhaps the most stunning election result in American history, deflated Democrats and overjoyed Republicans will come together today in Georgetown to bury the hatchet — both literally and figuratively.

Politicians, observers and other Delawareans will flock to Return Day today to celebrate — or in some cases, mourn — the 2016 election and resolve to work together for the future of the state and the country.

Hillary Clinton may have won the battle in Delaware, but Donald Trump won the war.

Gov. Jack Markell, a term-limited Democrat who had publicly stumped for Mrs. Clinton, urged Americans of all ideologies to work together.

“It’s more important than ever for those on both sides of this divisive election to find common ground to ensure everyone can go as far as their potential will take them,” said Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat who campaigned for Mrs. Clinton. “This is a time for everybody to work together and I’m hoping our new president will surround himself with a great team and will consult with a broad cross section of our country to govern in ways that lift up all our people and strengthen their freedoms and opportunities.”

160422_trump_rally_djc_035-1Delaware’s three electoral votes went to Mrs. Clinton.

It was the seventh consecutive presidential election in which Delaware has backed the Democratic candidate. The state had been on the winning side the past two, supporting Democrat Barack Obama.

Mrs. Clinton won 53.4 percent of the vote in Delaware, while Mr. Trump claimed 41.9. Two third-party candidates combined for 4.7 percent.

The Democratic nominee lost Kent and Sussex counties but won majorities in 27 of the state’s 41 representative districts.

Of the 17 districts located at least partially in Kent or Sussex, Mrs. Clinton claimed just three.

In southeastern Sussex County’s  38th Representative District  which includes Bethany Beach, Ocean View and Fenwick Island, President-elect Trump beat Mrs. Clinton by nearly 5,000 votes. The district has the most Republicans of Delaware’s 41 House districts.

The district’s representative, Ronald Gray, said the area typically has a good turnout and many Delawareans this year were eager to support Mr. Trump.

“People were ready for a change,” Rep. Gray, a Republican, said.

As for why his district is, at least by registration, the most right-leaning, he’s not sure, although he noted it has a high number of retirees and contains a large rural element — two traditional indicators of Republican support.

While Democrats were disappointed, they are trying to move forward as best they can.

Rep.-elect Lisa Blunt Rochester said Tuesday night when the results were still in doubt she was confident she could work with a President Trump.

Former Gov. and Rep. Mike Castle, a Republican, did not vote for Mr. Trump in Delaware’s April presidential primary but cast his ballot for him Tuesday.

“I just hope he appoints good people to the cabinet and various other positions in government,” he said, adding that he hopes Mr. Trump listens to their advice.

Democratic Sen. Tom Carper praised the efforts of the Obama administration and, like Gov. Markell, called for unity.

“We’ve made so much progress over the last eight years,” he said in a statement “We bounced back from the bottom of the Great Recession by working incredibly hard to get our economy back on track and put Americans back to work. We expanded access to high-quality health care to millions of people who had never before had it. And we have made incredible strides to preserve and protect our environment, just to name a few.

“Now, after this very contentious election, we must all remember this is the greatest democracy in the world and that the will of the people shall always prevail. It’s now time to reach across party lines and invest all our efforts into building on the successes of the past eight years and pursue the bright future every American deserves.”

The other two members of Delaware’s current congressional delegation, both Democrats, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Other reaction

Wesley College political science professor Anthony Armstrong was “numb” when he found out the results.

Pollsters ended up being rather wide of the mark, and there is widespread speculation that the error is partly due to a glut of white blue-collar voters in the Rust Belt who may have declined to answer polls before the election. Mr. Armstrong said he realized this was a possibility but feels pollsters did test against the theory.

“I had seen that there was testing this outcome in landlines and online polls,” he said. “Their results seemed to show that it was having some effect but not much of one. I figured that I would trust the evidence there. Also, for some reason I kind of doubted this idea of a shy Trump voter.”

To a lesser degree, the state’s voting split also caught him off guard.

“Of course New Castle was going to go blue, but seeing Kent County go red surprised me somewhat,” he said.

In the end, Mr. Armstrong speculated, Americans’ desire to break from establishment politicians is what drove the Trump vote home.

“There was resonance with his message, which was partly anti-Obama and anti-Clinton,” he said. “But I also think there is a feeling a lot of people have of just wanting to smash the system. Clinton was the system and Trump was the one saying he’d smash it.”

Tuning in for Mr. Trump’s acceptance and Mrs. Clinton’s concession speeches, Mr. Armstrong was encouraged but remains wary.

“Trump was being gracious toward Hillary,” he said. “It almost sounded like he may not be pushing to put her in jail anymore — which would be silly. There have been other times, like when he won the nomination, that he came forward to be magnanimous. My guess is that is his intent for the moment. Part of the fear of Donald Trump is that his moods of the moment changes.”

Delaware State University political science professor Samuel Hoff, although equally surprised, seemed more excited about the prospect of interesting times ahead.

“It’s a new day out there,” he said. “We have to adapt to it and get used to it, but on the other hand it’s just an amazingly interesting time to see how things develop politically.”

Mr. Hoff also finds the polling results puzzling, an outcome that he said could be explained partly by comments made several weeks ago by former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

“He talked about a phenomenon that he thought might be lurking in the background for Trump that he called the ‘Rizzo effect,” said Mr. Hoff. “He was referring to Frank Rizzo, a former tough cop mayor of Philadelphia who used to get re-elected pretty regularly. He’d end up polling about 4 or 5 points less than he’d actually end up getting. The phenomenon was that a lot of people liked him but wouldn’t admit that they were going to vote for him. I think there was clearly a ‘Rizzo effect’ here with Trump.”

As a political scientist, there are things Mr. Hoff looks forward to about a Trump presidency. Like Mr. Castle, he’s interested in watching Trump assemble his cabinet.

“I even said before the election that it would be more interesting to watch Trump put together his cabinet than it would be to watch Clinton,” he said. “There will be some fresh faces.

“We have 71 days. The transition team has to get busy filling about 4,000 offices and among those about 600 of the most critical ones. It may be a diverse cabinet ideologically and maybe even party-wise — certainly diverse between appointees from the public and private sector.”

Although Mr. Trump will assume the presidency with party control of the Senate and House, Mr. Hoff thinks there is an elevated chance there will be more vetoes.

Over the past two presidencies, he has been frustrated that Presidents Obama and George W. Bush rarely used the power until the final two years of their terms, when they no longer retained complete control of the Senate and House.

“They hardly used vetoes at all in their first six years,” he said. “I’d like to see a President Trump, if he follows through on his reputation as a deal maker, to bring the veto back to its central place in the legislative process as a tool to help mold legislation. You don’t have to be in the minority party to use the veto.

“FDR used to tell his aides when the Democrats controlled Congress throughout his term to bring him a bill he could veto. He did this just so he could slap the Democrats around a little and show them who’s boss. I get the feeling that Trump may do that too. That would make me happy because I’ll get to work again in terms of analyzing the veto. I’ve kind of sat on my ditty box here for most of Obama’s term.”

Milton resident Reid Beveridge, a former political reporter for the Houston Chronicle, Wisconsin State Journal and Delaware State News, said he was happy with the result.

“I feel like a lot of the people who voted haven’t voted at all in the past or haven’t voted recently,” he said. “They were energized by Trump and they turned out. There was a lot of talk about how superior Hillary’s ground game was going to be, but it didn’t prove to be true. The enthusiasm factor was really important. Trump’s voters were really enthusiastic and hers were not.”

Mr. Trump will be sworn in Jan. 20, and Mr. Castle, who served in the House under three presidents, is hopeful the country will gather behind him.
“Regardless of who won it’s our obligation to pull behind that person and make the country work as well as possible,” he said.

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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