As the voter recount gets underway in Wisconsin, journalism students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee are helping shed light on American’s rural vote by looking at counties that flipped from Democrat to Republican in the 2016 election.
There were several in Wisconsin, counties along the Mississippi River Valley, including Vernon, Grant and Crawford that had gone to President Barack Obama in 2012 that flipped and carried to President-elect Donald Trump to a victory.
Recently, 18 students and two instructors visited counties in three states: Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. Students interviewed people in rural areas like Maybel, Minnesota, to understand why the counties flipped from blue to red and tell a story about the rural vote. Students hope their work helps explain what pollsters missed.
Students interviewed dozens of people including farmers, hunters and average day American worker. Many people were interviewed on the streets, others at a bingo night and even in their homes.
Before leaving their campus, students examined different maps and had formed a hypothesis.
What they discovered was that “flipped counties” had one similarity, they were counties with some of the lowest wages in the states.
"There aren't many jobs out there, so they're looking for Trump to bring back jobs to America, which he promised. So that's what they're pulling on. They're hoping that he brings back jobs and just give them some type of hope,” Nyesha Stone said.
Students are preparing to present their stories, on different media platforms, at MediaMilwaukee.com, which will be available sometime next week.