The Big Crunch

The places that flipped and gave the country to Trump

By Mark Fahey and Nicholas Wells

Tuesday's presidential election resulted in a riveting series of surprises, as presumed Democratic strongholds including Wisconsin and Pennsylvania switched sides to propel Donald Trump to victory.

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That national drama was playing out at the county level, too. Places that supported President Obama over Mitt Romney in the 2012 election switched their support to Trump — some with hefty margins. As the data came in last night, we saw a clear trend: In almost every county across the nation, Trump's support was stronger than Romney's four years ago. On the Democrats side, another trend emerged: a lot of counties that voted for Obama in 2012 still voted for Hillary Clinton this time, but with worse margins.

Above is a map just highlighting the counties that switched choices outright in 2016 versus 2012. Vast swaths of the population in the upper Midwest had a change of heart — and a change of parties.

Some of those counties flipped by more than 30 points. Consider Fayette County in Northwest Iowa, which flipped by 32 points. In 2012, Obama beat Romney by 12 points (55.3 - 43.3), but this year, Trump won the same county by almost 20 (56.4 - 37.0)

Michigan was widely regarded as a win for Clinton until just days before the election. But white, blue-collar workers turned out and helped deliver the state for Trump. Just over half of voters in Eaton, Michigan, in the middle of the state, carried Obama to victory there in 2012. On Tuesday, 50 percent went for Trump, flipping the county by 9 points.

Note: A small number of counties in the graphic above were colored incorrectly due to an error in the underlying data and have been corrected. The text has also been updated to reflect those changes.