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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Four Rural Western Washington Counties Flip For Trump

Washington Secretary of State
Four mostly rural western Washington that voted for President Obama in 2012 flipped to Donald Trump on Tuesday.

If there was a “Trump effect” in Washington state, it showed up in four mostly rural western Washington counties. Mason, Grays Harbor, Pacific and Cowlitz counties went for President Obama in 2012. But Donald Trump managed to flip them.

“I think they just finally heard somebody talk about them and say ‘I want to give you hope, I want to bring back your jobs.,” former House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, a Democrat from Grays Harbor County said.

But Kessler doesn’t think Trump’s success in these counties represents a permanent political realignment. She pointed out that Democrats were still winning state legislative seats in her part of coastal Washington.

“They voted for Trump, not down the line, at least in my communities where I live and where I represented for so long,” Kessler said.

She said the election highlighted the gulf between environmentally-minded urban Democrats and traditionally Democratic voters in natural resource dependent pockets of the state.

There’s also one rural county where there seemed to be a reverse Trump effect. In early returns Whitman County in southeast Washington was going for Hillary Clinton. Four years ago Republican Mitt Romney won that county.

Trump might also have had an effect on voters in heavily Democratic King County, the most populous in the state. In 2012, President Obama got 69 percent of the King County vote. In this election, Clinton was polling at nearly 74 percent in early returns.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."