The aftermath of an election: Trump’s winning night a surprise for Southwest Michigan


Ron Ravitch sports a “Make America Great Again” hat during an election party for U.S. Rep. Fred Upton and Kim LaSata on Tuesday night at The Inn at Harbor Shores. (Don Campbell | HP Staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

Election Day proved a rough night for pollsters, who had been stating for weeks that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had the narrow road to victory.

The opposite proved true as the night wore on, to the delight of Republicans and the despair of Democrats.

Among the other eager voters sitting at home waiting for the results was Barbara Carmichael.

The St. Joseph resident had voted for Trump earlier that day and told herself she would wait as long as it took to confirm her candidate was chosen.

“I was thrilled, but I felt like it was taking forever,” Carmichael said. “Maybe we will actually work on improving our country. I sent (my daughter) a text at 2:45 (a.m).”

Like many in the area, Carmichael is happy the election is over. She said she had grown tired of listening to all of the coverage.

“I didn’t feel there was enough focus on what each person was actually going to do,” Carmichael said. “I think it was really good of Mr. Trump in his speech to reach out to everybody because he truly loves this country and wants to see it get better.”

Not everyone had the warm sentiment toward the new president-elect.

Benton Harbor resident Lydia Kauffman said she stopped watching television as more and more states began to turn red. Kauffman admitted she didn’t like Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton either, but said she still wanted to vote for someone who didn’t “openly oppose Muslims and the LGBTQ community.”

“This has been a travesty,” Kauffman said Wednesday. “The fact that not only our country, but this state, voted for him shows we’ve taken a step backward.”

Trump pulled in support Tuesday with swing state after swing state voting GOP until the night came down to Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. While Trump won Michigan by nearly 13,000 votes, he received about 9,000 more votes than Hillary Clinton in Berrien County.

In Van Buren and Cass counties, Trump had 3,000 and 7,000 more votes than Clinton, respectively.

Along with the Oval Office, Republicans now have control over the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. To say this would be a big win for the GOP, would be an understatement.

Re-elected U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, released a statement congratulating Trump on a “hard fought victory” in Michigan and across the country.

“I’ve said all along, I would be willing and able to work with whoever was elected our next president because lets face it: We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Upton said in the release. “It’s time to put the divisiveness of the past behind us, and come together as a nation. Building a better future for our children is something all Americans have in common and is a goal we all need to work toward.”

Feelings all around

John and Sue Kleinmanns were surprised, to say the least.

The couple sat in their Sawyer home Tuesday night in shock as the numbers continued to pour in across the country. Like Carmichael, they too stayed up late until the winner was announced.

Both voted for Clinton and said they are unsure where this leaves the country.

“It’s disappointing, sure,” Sue said. “I sincerely hope he can make this a better place for the working people. That’s all we can do, is hope.”

John Kleinmanns said he was glad the election was over and referred to the campaigns as a “disaster” and a “circus.”

“It was hard to watch,” he said. “There was nothing but name-calling with no room for talk of policy.”

The election left a lot of communities divided based on how partisan the issues have become. With a lot of people taking to social media in celebration or mourning, some have tried to begin the healing process.

Almost 24 hours after the polls closed, an event called “Community Healing Night” took place Wednesday at The Livery. It was there that attendees were encouraged to log off, hug, support, cry, or cheer the election results.

The event’s organizers said the informal social was a way to get people to share what they were feeling and what the election’s results meant for them and their community.

Brenton Griffin is from Kalamazoo, but spent his election night at the Inn at Harbor Shores to see Congressman Upton win his 16th term.

Griffin said he voted for Trump and his happy he won, but didn’t expect him to win the presidency.

“I’m a little shocked,” he said. “From all the polls and what was covered in the media, it seemed like Clinton had the easier path. It seems like everyone has been more focused o this election. I hope he makes America great again.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 10, 2016)

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