Ottawa County a 'battleground' in 2016 election; Democrat hasn't won since 1864

Would be first Democratic win in presidential race in Ottawa County since 1864

WEST OLIVE, MICH. - The upcoming election is now just 13 days away.

Polls show Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton leading her Republican rival, Donald Trump, by about 5 percentage points, according to a Real Clear Politics polling average. Democrats hope she could win in many states that traditionally favor Republican candidates.

A new online publication names Ottawa County as one of 50 battleground counties across the country. Ottawa County Democrats are hoping a typically red county in West Michigan could go blue.

You have to go back to Nov. 8, 1864, to find a Democratic presidential candidate who won in Ottawa County. Clerk Justin Roebuck showed us an election book from that time, which used ink and quill to keep public record.

"Ottawa County actually voted against Abraham Lincoln in that election, so the majority of votes in Ottawa County were for George B. McClellan in the 1864 election," Roebuck said. 

Fast forward to Ottawa County in 2016.

"It is definitely against the historical trend for this to be a close election," Roebuck said. 

However, that's exactly what the online publication, governing.com, is predicting for this election. Ottawa County is named as one of 50 battleground counties across the country.

"We are working very hard, regardless of whether we are a battleground county or not," says Jack Holmes, co-chair of the campaign committee for the Ottawa County Republican Party. 

The article says that an influx of Mexican Americans will reign in Trump's prospects. However, local republican leaders have a different view.

"I don't think it changes anything at all because Mexican Americans have been part of our community for over fifty years, the entire time I've lived here we've worked to engage them and support them and interact with them," Holmes said.

Roebuck says in the two most recent presidential elections the republican nominees have won overwhelmingly in Ottawa County.

"Romney received literally double the votes President Obama received here in Ottawa County," Roebuck said.

Holmes says he believes Donald Trump will do very well in Ottawa County, but he was hesitant to predict how close the race will be. 

"I'm not concentrating on that as much as I am winning votes," Holmes said.

Roebuck says this election has proven that "certainly anything is possible."

We also reached the chair of the Ottawa County Democratic party, Doug Zylstra by phone. He says the primary showed that Donald Trump was not popular with Dutch conservatives in Iowa or West Michigan.

Zylstra expects Hillary Clinton to do better in Ottawa County than any other Democratic Presidential nominee in recent history.

(© 2016 WZZM)


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