Santa Barbarans Stoked for Trump
A Chat with Some of the County's 56,000 Who Voted for the Donald
One Thursday in October, parked on Anacapa Street was a navy blue Dodge Ram with a Donald Trump sticker and fresh white paint sprayed on every side: “FUCK TRUMP.” The obscenity seemed fitting in a city where the politics are as blue as the sky. Trump supporters are few and far between.
Though some prominent Republicans currently on the national stage have ties to Santa Barbara — Tom Barrack, inauguration chair, owns Happy Canyon Winery; Andy Puzder, Trump’s pick for secretary of labor, ran CKE here until recently; Ryan Zinke, the interior nominee, has family in town — most Trump supporters are much less visible.
In fact, Republican congressional candidate Justin Fareed danced around the issue of endorsing Trump and eventually revoked his support after the now-infamous Access Hollywood tapes surfaced. Likewise, conservative Bruce Porter declined support from the Santa Barbara County Young Republicans because they endorsed Trump, according to club treasurer Celine Dilfer.
But Mike Stoker, former county supervisor and congressional candidate, said he didn’t think the area’s average Trump voters were any less visible than Mitt Romney or John McCain voters were in 2012 or 2008, respectively. “When you know you aren’t going to win, there’s no real reason to be active,” said Stoker, a Trump delegate who is credited for starting the “Lock Her Up” chant at the Republican National Convention in July. “There is no incentive.”
Less enthusiastically, Dale Francisco, a former Santa Barbara city councilmember and congressional candidate, said he reluctantly voted for Trump. He explained area Republicans tend to be more moderate like former presidential candidate John Kasich. Many of his Republican anti-Trump friends initially thought Trump was the only candidate who could lose. But Francisco now believes “he might have been the only kind of guy who won this one.”
In Santa Barbara County, Hillary Clinton squashed Trump by 28 percentage points. For Democrats, that was more than in 2012’s 18 percent or 2008’s 23 percent. The comparison is influenced, though, largely by registration numbers, which surged for Democrats in 2016 and 2008. Still, about 56,000 people voted for Trump in the county, or about a third of the voters.
Most of those came from North County. The only supervisorial district Trump won was the 4th District, which spans Orcutt, Lompoc, and parts of Santa Maria. There, Trump secured 50 percent of the vote; Clinton won 41 percent.
Trump lost, however, the cities of Guadalupe, Lompoc, Santa Maria, and Buellton. Most drastically, in the City of Santa Barbara, Trump got just 18.5 percent of the vote; Clinton won 73 percent.
Though collective mourning saturated Santa Barbara on November 9, not everyone wept. Here is a glimpse at two Santa Barbara women who wore their Trump support on their sleeves — or baseball caps.
Diane Brewer has always had a job. Wearing a small circular Trump necklace, she explained she must have worked more than 30 places in town — everywhere from McConnell’s to Raytheon — when she attended Santa Barbara City College. At 58, she is now a financial advisor.
Her family, who lived on the Eastside, has always valued hard work. Her father was a painter, and her mom was a waitress, bringing home enough cash to put food on the table for her and her nine siblings. Her father’s values left an impression on her, and she recently returned to town to care for him. “He is sharp in the mind and can tell you everything,” she said, later likening him to Trump. “He doesn’t want anything from anybody,” she said.
Brewer expressed sadness that a niece had disowned her because she emphatically supported Trump on social media. “I feel there are people who don’t want to say who they voted for,” she said of Santa Barbarans. She is hosting a celebration party on Inauguration Day, but she texted after our interview to clarify that it is not a “DeploraBall,” as it had been initially described. She largely supported the president-elect because she rejected the regulatory climate under President Obama, and she truly believes Trump will bring jobs. “Judge him on his results, not his personality or his hair color,” she said.
“I never went a day without wearing a Trump hat, socks, or T-shirt,” said Celine Dilfer, 32, who is involved with Santa Barbara Young Republicans. Some would high-five her, saying, “It takes a lot of balls to wear that.” Others were more confrontational: “Why are you wearing that in my city?” But before the election, most people laughed. Now, they don’t find it quite so funny. The situation has been particularly bad where she works — at the courthouse law library. She said at times Latinos would refuse her help because of her Trump attire. But, ironically, she is the only one there fluent in Spanish, which she learned growing up in Ecuador, where many in her family live. Asked about Trump’s immigration plans, she said, “I think he’s going to do whatever it takes.” She reasoned that the argument against deporting individuals in the country illegally is about splitting up families. “I think he’ll say it doesn’t matter because these people are already split up by leaving Mexico, which is the number one reason we don’t deport all of the illegals,” she said.