The folks in Idaho knew better than the DC establishment

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Some pundits say it was this rural voter base that propelled Donald Trump to victory.

MOSCOW, Idaho — JoAnn Hoyt told you so.

She and legions of other Donald Trump supporters knew better than the so-called experts, analysts, pollsters and pundits. She knew Trump would win. How did she see what so many others plainly missed?

She watched.

“If you look at the size of the crowds that he has been drawing compared to the size of the crowds on the other side, I hope that that’s an indication,” Hoyt said the morning of Election Day. “I think that the people are tired of what we’ve had the last eight years and just really don’t want another four or eight years of that.”

But the establishment was watching too. Maybe there was a hidden Trump vote.

A town ignored

Moscow is a liberal town in a conservative state; Hoyt is at once a political minority and surrounded by like-minded Republicans. And like the small communities of the rust-belt and Middle America, Moscow doesn’t get paid much attention by people of power.

“We never get politicians out here,” Hoyt said. “I look at the politicians repeatedly going back to the same states in the east — the battleground states — and I think, ‘Boy it’d be nice to see someone out here.'”

Indeed, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz visited Coeur d’Alene, 84 miles to the north. But even Trump, who often visited cities unseen by major presidential candidates, did not stop by. He never came to Idaho.

Hoyt has had her Trump-Pence yard sign stolen twice in as many weeks.

“Theft is occurring right in our own yard where somebody comes onto our private property and steals, essentially, our freedom of expression,” she said.

“That, to me, is like a microcosm of what happens in the greater policies of the Democrat party, and Hillary Clinton [is] representing that.”

A mind changed

Out on the corner of 3rd and South Jackson Streets, Steve Piper waves “Make America Great Again” and “Honk 4 Trump” signs at passing vehicles. To every horn blown, he lets out a bellowing “Thank you!” — even at trucks who have already rumbled halfway through the intersection.

When asked around 11 o’clock in the morning if he thought Trump would win, his answer came back as quickly as it did definitively: “No.”

The system is rigged, Piper said, adding the influential media and the Clinton machine had colluded to sway voters for years.

But by two o’clock in the afternoon, the 55-year-old’s opinion had shifted dramatically.

“I had my doubts,” he said. “I’ve stood out here all day … and the response to these signs is overwhelming. It changed — literally — how I thought this election’s gonna turn out.”

“I honestly believe, now, I think Trump is gonna do it!”

An election won

The mood at the Latah County Republican headquarters on Election Night was upbeat from the beginning. If the local Republicans were expecting a blowout loss — the way many in Washington were — it didn’t show on their faces.

One by one, they filed into the rented space with homemade pasta dishes and sandwiches. They played Election Night bingo, listening for buzzy phrases like “liberal media,” “locker room talk,” and “voter fraud.” And when key states were called for their candidate, they shouted: “You’re going down, Hillary!”

The next morning, Hoyt was feeling contemplative and satisfied.

“I really feel that this is the beginning of a new era,” she said. “That era of theft and downward decline that I felt we were on … I feel like we are on our way back up.”

But was she surprised that Trump had completed the biggest political upset in history? Yeah right.

“You know, when the media would report that Hillary was up by 22, or 20, or 18, or 15, it never was consistent with what I was feeling, what I was hearing from my sphere of influence, my friends, family,” Hoyt said.

“I would watch the Trump rallies and I would see 20,000 and 30,000 people and everybody enthusiastic. Then I would look at the polls and they just didn’t connect.”