Howard County, Iowa, puts on one of the largest and best county fairs in the region. So Daniel and Jordan Allott thought it would be the ideal place to ask people how a county that voted for Barack Obama in 2012 flipped for Donald Trump in 2016.
They caught up with Joe Wacha while he was on break from working the Moo Mobile malt stand at the Mighty Howard County Fair. Wacha, a lifelong Democrat who crossed party lines to vote for Trump in 2016, said that much of his decision had to do with the leftward slide of the Democratic Party and its nominee, Hillary Clinton. Today’s Democratic Party is too liberal, he said. The Republican Party is “more like the way the Democratic Party was 30 or 40 years ago,” he said.
They spoke with Jeff Murphy, who said that Trump won by promising to “mix things up in Washington.” They also met Courtney Rowe at the Democratic Party booth inside the fair’s exhibit hall. Rowe, an aerospace engineer and Bernie Sanders supporter, said, “I think part of [Trump’s success in Howard County] was just people thought, things aren’t working, we’ve tried Republicans, we’ve tried Democrats, it hasn’t worked for us.” Rowe, who is running for the Democratic nomination for Congress in Iowa’s 1st District, added, “Telling people that he’s going to make America great again, when it hasn’t seemed very great for you, that’s hopeful.”
Whatever the explanation for Trump’s success here, everyone agreed that the fair was an important part of the community, one of the highlights of the year for Howard County residents. Howard County is a place where “families, neighbors and neighborhoods are important,” Murphy said. “What’s great about northeast Iowa is it is a small-town atmosphere. … It’s a family, is the best way I can describe it. We’re a small town family.”
This video was originally featured as a part of the Washington Examiner’s series The Race to 2020: The people and places that will define a presidency. You can read more about Howard County, see more videos, or use the form below to get email updates about future updates.