GREENFIELD — As Hancock County residents grappled with mixed feelings about Donald Trump’s ascent to the White House, one common sentiment arose about the presidential election: at least it’s over.
After months of mud-slinging, political attack ads and divisive conversations across dining room tables and all platforms of social media, local voters expressed relief Wednesday that the country can finally focus on moving forward.
And in Hancock County, which overwhelmingly supported the Republican nominee with 68.8 percent of the vote cast in his favor, many were looking ahead to a time they hope will be marked by economic prosperity brought on by the billionaire businessman whose come-from-behind victory shocked Americans in the wee hours Wednesday morning.
Election night across the country was dramatic, with results trickling in until Democrat Hillary Clinton called Trump early Wednesday to concede.
Trump, accompanied on his path to the White House by Indiana native Vice President-elect Mike Pence, captured key battleground states, including Ohio, Florida and North Carolina, to clench the 270 electoral votes he needed to succeed.
Becky Hilligoss of New Palestine watched the campaign in the days leading up to the race and was celebrating the outcome Wednesday.
“I’m ecstatic and glad the polls were proved inaccurate and misleading,” she said.
Even with Trump’s victory in hand Wednesday, some voters still weren’t willing to divulge which candidate received their vote.
Rachael Gunn of New Palestine was among them. She wasn’t telling which candidate received support on her ballot, but she welcomed the ceasefire.
“I’m just glad it’s all over,” she said. “I know who I voted for, and I’m still not sure I voted for the best person, but it’s over now.”
Pence stood alongside Trump early Wednesday as Trump took the stage to claim his victory before a roaring crowd in New York City at the Hilton Trump Hotel.
Pence’s lone term as Indiana governor, which ends this year, was controversial, marked by the passage of the much-debated Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which opponents said gave Hoosiers a license to discriminate against their gay, lesbian and transgender neighbors.
Wednesday, Darrell Gordon of Greenfield looked toward Pence’s role in the coming presidential administration with skepticism, saying the race as a whole was “the worst possible outcome.”
“(Pence) didn’t impress me as a governor,” he said. “I just hope the next four years pass without too much turmoil.”
Beth Batka of Greenfield said she’s relieved the election is finally over, even though it didn’t turn out the way she’d hoped. Like many voters, she said she grew tired of vitriol the campaign spurred on social media.
She didn’t stay up Tuesday night to watch the final outcome — she was too tired — but she woke Wednesday morning to news she said made her sad.
“I’ve cried a couple of times — not so much for myself but for a lot of people I love, … especially young adults … who voted for the first time and are worried about what the future holds,” she said.
She hopes now that the election is over, people will be kinder to one another, and the country will begin to heal after a divisive few months.
“I’m looking forward to my Facebook page settling down,” Batka said.
Many Hancock County voters headed to bed well before the year’s biggest race came to a close.
Michaela Sprague of New Palestine said she sent her alarm for 2 a.m. to ensure she’d see the results when the rest of the world did. She was surprised but pleased.
“I was pretty happy,” Sparague said. “I thought Hillary fought hard and so did Trump, despite the negativity about him.
Local political leaders said the contentious national elections sometimes made it difficult to canvass neighborhoods in support of local candidates. People who came to the door automatically wanted to talk about the country’s biggest race, and many of the comments were negative, they said.
As they watched results roll in Tuesday night from the Hancock County Courthouse, chairs of the local Democrat and Republican parties, Randy Johnson and Janice Silvey, respectfully, both laughed a bit at the ease they felt as local races were called, recalling the nail-biting tension that gripped the county during the May primary election when equipment malfunctions resulted in local voters going to bed without the results of several races — not unlike what transpired late Tuesday in the fight to become America’s 45th president.
Silvey and Johnson said that as they stumped for state and local races on and ahead of Election Day, they ran into residents who expressed displeasure with the other party’s federal candidates.
Both were pleased, however, that the most local races didn’t carry the same negativity. Hopefully, that will mean bright things for Hancock County’s future, they said.
“The two parties working together at the local level is much different than at the national level,” Johnson said. “… It shouldn’t be so polarized; it should be about what’s best of the people.”