I’m not really a numbers guy and I don’t like math – the new style or the old.
However, I do enjoy election day and digging into the nitty gritty of voting trends after everything is said and done.
Especially when it comes to local voting.
What we know for sure after this crazy week is nationally the country is split at the seams – nearly down the middle – with no signs of coming together anytime soon.
Locally, the story is much the same. A detailed look at the final numbers shows us our Iron Range brothers and sisters are just as divided politically.
When all was said and done, St. Louis County went blue for Joe Biden (67,496 to 48,820 for President Donald Trump) but if you throw out the numbers from Duluth’s 34 voting districts, all of which went heavy for the former vice-president – the final tally on the Iron Range was much closer.
And when you add in the Itasca County votes, 15,232 for Trump to 10,784 for Biden, it becomes apparent that many who live up north leaned red. If you have followed politics on the Iron Range as long as I have (nearly four decades) then you realize that so much support for a Republican presidential candidate here is impressive.
In the end it didn’t make a difference. The population north of Duluth just doesn’t add up to too much of anything when pitted against the metro area.
Still, before this election cycle you would have been hard pressed to find many yard signs proclaiming allegiance to a GOP candidate for this land’s highest office but this year Trump signs dominated the landscape.
Regardless of what some local pundits and so-called political commentators would have you believe it is and was news that Trump drew so much support on the Iron Range.
I think what some find hard to understand – particularly those who bleed blue, those who live and breathe party platform, and those too cool for the room journalists, is that Iron Rangers have always been a bit rebellious.
They don’t get that perhaps an Iron Range vote for Trump was maybe more about sending a message to the powers that be and less about supporting a particular party’s candidate.
It’s like a big old middle finger to the establishment.
That defiant nature has been passed down from generation to generation and continues to rear its head from time to time.
This is, after all, home to people like the late Mary Anderson, longtime Mayor of Kinney and one of the biggest rebels our area ever produced.
In the 1970s, Anderson and her cohorts gathered in her main street bar (Mary’s Bar, of course) and hatched a plan to secede from the Union in order to leverage money to fix the city’s aging water system.
Struggling to gain funds while navigating the sea of government red tape locally, Anderson figured it would be easier to get the cash if Kinney were a foreign country. So she and her city council sent a letter to the State Department in Washington D.C. outlining their plan to create the Republic of Kinney and even declare war if necessary (surrendering quick of course), so the feds could send some foreign aid.
Interestingly, the vote for president this year was a tie in Kinney: 28 to 28.
In Cherry, that Iron Range rebel spirit was alive and well this election season. Trump won the township 303 to 223.
Oddly, no votes were cast for the two socialist candidates on the ballot, Gloria LaRiva of the Socialism and Liberation Party and Alyson Kennedy of the Socialist Workers party.
Cherry was the birthplace of the late Gus Hall, former leader of the Communist Party USA, and four-time presidential hopeful, a man who once said, “The struggle between those who own the wealth and those whose labor produces the wealth is one flaw in capitalism that will lead to socialism.”
While Communism and Socialism are two different things it’s hard to deny Hall may have paved part of the path some in Washington D.C. seem to favor as of late.
Finally, the Iron Range is currently home to six of the seven mayors who made news earlier this fall by publicly endorsing President Trump.
It was a bold move, as taking that stand probably gives some of them less than a 50-50 chance of re-election.
But they did it anyway.
On Tuesday Trump landed the most votes in three of the cities those mayors represent, Babbitt, Hoyt Lakes, and Ely, and lost in the other three, Virginia, Chisholm and Eveleth.
The voting was extremely close across the board.
Ironically, Chuck Novak, the mayor of Ely, a town where Trump won, lost his re-election bid to Eric Urbas, who had dropped out of the race a few months ago due to health reasons.
His name was still on the ballot as it was too late to remove it.
Novak was the only mayor up for re-election this go around and whether his loss is a sign of things to come is up for debate. A closer look at the numbers shows there were 1,966 votes cast for president in Ely and only 1,724 for mayor.
So there was a disengagement there.
Diving in even deeper, Biden secured 961 votes while Urbas received a near exact total, 924. It’s quite possible some who may have normally voted for Novak simply didn’t because they figured he had it in the bag since his opponent had withdrawn.
Or maybe a percentage of those who supported Biden voted for Urbas anyway to send a message to Novak for supporting Trump.
Interestingly, according to a Tweet put out by the Ely Echo on election night, Urbas supported both Trump and mining.
You have to love small town elections.