Howard county, a mix of blue-collar workers and farmers, saw the largest swing of any county in the US from Obama to Trump in 2016 – by more than 40%.
But before that, it voted solidly for Bernie Sanders (by 54%) in the Democratic primary against Hillary Clinton that year. The chair of the county Democratic party, Laura Hubka, said that in both cases, the votes were kicking back against the ‘establishment candidate’ in Clinton.
Hubka was a big supporter of Sanders in 2016 but after he lost the primary she decided that, as much as she liked his policies, the rest of America wasn’t ready for them. So this time she’s supporting Pete Buttigieg. But what concerns Hubka more than who wins tonight’s primary are signs that Howard County is swinging away from Trump.
‘I really want to see the turnout. I want to see swing voters. I want to see the Republicans that are coming in to switch parties and vote for one of our candidates, and who that candidate might be. And also return voters. People that left us last time. And I want to see first time registrations,’ she said.
‘My biggest thing is to see how energised people are for our candidates, and hopefully this caucus is very well-attended. That will show me there’s a lot of excitement in the county, and I’m going to have all of those names and all of those phone numbers to continue my work until November.’
The biggest concentration of voters tonight will be in Cresco, the county seat, at the Crestwood high school which includes among its graduates five US navy admirals, the country’s first flight attendant and Norman Borlaug, ‘the father of the Green Revolution’.