Although the polls closed Tuesday night, the 2016 election season is not yet over in Onslow County.
“We still have a ways to go,” Rose Whitehurst, director of the Onslow County Board of Elections, said Wednesday. “We still have to audit.”
The Onslow County Board of Elections launched into audit mode on Wednesday, hurrying to audit all ballots to make the deadline for official results, Nov. 18. The unofficial tally of ballots cast in Onslow County for the 2016 general election is 56,124 ballots cast out of 106,217 registered voters or 52.84 percent of registered voters, according to the North Carolina Board of Elections.
“It feels like it’s the same as back in 2008 or 2012,” Whitehurst said of voter turnout compared to previous presidential election years. “We had two very big elections.”
And two very big Republican wins — in Onslow County at least.
For the 2016 election, Republican Donald Trump won Onslow County with 36,342 votes, or 65 percent.
Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton drew 17,156 votes or 30.68 percent; and Libertarian Gary Johnson received 1,866 votes, or 3.34 percent of the vote. There were 551 write-ins.
These numbers don’t line up precisely with party registration in the county as Republicans account for 36 percent of Onslow County voters. Democrats make up 28 percent. And Libertarians less than 1 percent. However, Unaffiliated voters comprise the remaining 36 percent and all indications are that they leaned more R than D to give Trump the overwhelming county win — a party line split similar to that of the 2012 election.
The Republican Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan presidential ticket that year won the county with 62.69 percent of the vote. Democratic President Barack Obama and VP Joe Biden took 35.59 percent of the vote.
Despite the red leanings, Onslow County Democrats say they are pleased with their party’s participation in the election.
“I am extremely proud of the efforts of the Onslow Democrats in this election cycle. We will continue to build on our successes,” 1st Vice Chair of Onslow County Democrats Sherry Eason said.
Eason cited the wins of Governor-elect Roy Cooper, a tight race facing a recount, and North Carolina Supreme Court Associate Justice-elect Mike Morgan as bright spots for the Democrats.
Alva Williams, who is active in area Republican politics, only had about two hours of sleep Wednesday since she was so excited about Trump’s election.
“I’m 73 years old, I’ve never seen an election quite like this one,” she said. “I’m just elated the American people have spoken. That’s just the way I feel. There are so many out there who are afraid to say what they feel, it’s just a miracle I haven’t been shot. But when I believe in someone I believe in them and there was just something about Donald Trump that appealed to me. I looked at his empire and I thought, ‘My gosh, if he can do that then what can he do for our country?’ He evidently knows how to negotiate.”
Williams said she hopes that his election will bring back the America where the worst someone can do is smoke a cigarette or drink a beer.
“We’re not going to see a dramatic change overnight, all changes take time, but I feel like we are paving our way for our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to live in an America like I grew up in. ... An America where America loves everybody else and you look out for each other,” she said.
Kevin Buffell, chairman of the Onslow County Republican Party, said he was pleased North Carolina helped get Trump elected.
“Voter turnout overall was very good,” he said. “People who were willing to wait in line for two hours to meet Trump at a rally were willing to get out to the polls.”
Trump also swept neighboring counties.
In Carteret County, 4 percent of the voters are registered Democrats, 42 percent Republican, less than 1 percent Libertarian and 33 percent unaffiliated. Trump received 70.37 percent of the vote, or 26,228 ballots, compared to 26.31 percent, or 9,806, for Clinton. Johnson drew 885 votes or 2.37 percent. Another 350 ballots were for write-in candidates, according to preliminary data.
Duplin County voters are 48 percent Democrat, 27 percent Republican, less than 1 percent Libertarian and 25 percent unaffiliated. They cast 12,151 ballots for Trump, or 58.71 percent. Clinton drew 8,196 votes, or 39.6 percent; while Johnson took 1.23 percent of the votes, or 254. Another 95 votes were for write-in candidates.
In Jones County, Democrats make up 51 percent of the voters. Republicans are 24 percent, Libertarian less than 1 percent and unaffiliated 25 percent. They too voted overwhelmingly for Trump, who got 57.94 percent of the vote, or 2,941 ballots; 40.21 percent, or 2,041, for Clinton; and 1.12 percent, or 57 votes for Johnson. There were 37 votes for write-in candidates.
Daily News reporter Sarah Hauck contributed to this report.