Patinkin: Why Democratic Johnston voted for Trump, and probably will again

Patinkin: Why Democratic Johnston voted for Trump, and probably will again

Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena says “people are scared” and his town will vote for President Trump again. [The Providence Journal / David DelPoio] Hide caption Journal Columnist markpatinkin There’s a new book on three heavily Democratic communities that voted for Trump in 2016, and you might assume they were in Republican or swing states. Communities like Ottumwa, Iowa, and Elliott County, Kentucky, which the book indeed focused on. But guess the third place they picked? Johnston. As in, Johnston, Rhode Island — one of the state’s biggest Democratic bastions. Authors Stephanie Muravchik and Jon Shields spent time there to write “Trump’s Democrats,” just published by Brookings Institute Press. Indeed, Johnston favored Trump in 2016 by a lot. While Rhode Island backed Hillary Clinton 54% to 40%, the numbers in Johnston were exactly opposite. Fourteen points is big. And I’m guessing it’ll happen again in November. At least that’s what the experts told me. By experts I don’t mean the authors. Instead, I talked to a pair of lifelong Johnston mainstays, including Joseph Polisena, mayor there 14 years, and a state senator for 12 before that. He knows Johnston as well as anyone. The book says no Republican has won a municipal race in Johnston, including school board, perhaps since the 1960s. So I asked the mayor how such a town could have gone for Trump. He explained Democrats there are different than more liberal ones, on, say, the East Side. “The Democrats in Johnston are middle-of-the-road,” he told me. […]

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