Metro-east voters’ reactions to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s victory over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton were a mix of surprise, support and grim acceptance Wednesday morning.
“I’m elated,” said Jerry Leehy, a 75-year-old retired railroad superintendent from Swansea. “I jumped for joy. (Trump was) who I was for.”
Leehy, who expressed general dissatisfaction with the country and said he thought the United States has looked “weak” abroad, thought president-elect Trump would get the country “back on track.”
“Nothing’s going right anymore, I don’t think,” he said. The thing he was looking forward to most was Trump’s “honesty.”
Glenn Cole, a 26-year-old insurance inspector and small-business owner from downtown Belleville, said he was “still in shock” after Trump defeated Clinton with 279 Electoral College votes to her 228. A candidate must win 270 votes to take the White House.
“I’m disappointed,” he said, adding that he was “concerned about how things are going to go.” Cole, who thought Clinton was going to win, said Florida was a “turning point” in the election returns. “Once that hit, it was game over.”
Cole said he was nervous for the future of health care and education, but he hoped that local governments could “outweigh whatever big changes are made for the country.”
Cole took heart in knowing how voters from his generation cast their ballots. He said it gave him hope in the next elections four and eight years from now. Although a Republican was elected to the presidency, Cole also saw a silver-lining from living in reliably Democratic Illinois.
“As for our area and the state, I think everybody around here still makes me feel like I’m still raising my kids in a good enough area,” he said. “That’s my only positive reaction.”
Cartisha Sheard, a 21-year-old student who is working toward her degree to become a certified nursing assistant, said she “didn’t really have a reaction.”
“I feel like, either way, I’m still going to get up and do the things that I do,” she said.
Sheard did not vote in the election because she was at school, and now, she said, “I feel so bad, not that it would have made (any difference).”
Health care, Medicaid and other social programs rank among Sheard’s top concerns. They are also items that Trump had mentioned along the campaign trail that he would seek to change. Despite Trump’s positions, however, Sheard added that she supported and respected him.
“I haven’t really heard (Trump) speak,” she said. She also mentioned that she had been avoiding discussions about the election on social media, and even among her friends, most of whom were upset with the outcome.
“To me, it was what it was,” Sheard said.
Eddie Lewis, a 72-year-old retiree who worked in the chemical industry, was upset with the outcome. He was looking forward to another historic election, following that of the first African-American president, that would have been the first time the United States elected a woman to the Oval Office.
Lewis’ top issues include employment, and care for the elderly, especially Social Security, but he didn’t think the program would change too much over the next four years.
“I don’t know what he’s going to do,” Lewis said of Trump.
“I don’t agree with Donald Trump on anything that he says,” Lewis said. “I’m just accepting him as a president. And I say ‘congratulations’ to him as a president, but I personally don’t like him.”
Voter turnout in the metro-east was generally high in the 2016 general election. Here’s a look at the numbers:
St. Clair: 67 percent
Madison: 72 percent
Monroe: 78 percent
Clinton: 69 percent
Randolph: 67 percent