Sawyer County, Wisconsin: The political predictors split over a primary

wisconsin sawyer county primary voters 2016 origwx js_00015209
wisconsin sawyer county primary voters 2016 origwx js_00015209

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    This county is very good at predicting elections

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  • This place knows how to pick presidents
  • Residents sound off on the 2106 election

Hayward, Wisconsin (CNN)Up in the Northwoods region of Wisconsin is a county whose voters are remarkably good at picking presidents.

In every general election since 1964, the people of this rural, wooded area have voted for the candidate who won the national election. Too bad about Nixon in 1960.
    The voters in Hayward, the county seat, seemed unaware -- surprised, even -- of their own predictive powers.
    "When I heard that we had predicted the outcome since 1964, I was actually amazed," said Dayle Quigley, a physician who lives in Hayward. "I would not necessarily call us a microcosm of the United States."
    Indeed, the latest census estimates list Sawyer County as 77% white.
    But despite their past streak of predicting general election victors, they are split ahead of Tuesday's primary elections.
    "If I were going to be one of those pure ideology people just vote my conscience, of course I'd vote for Bernie Sanders," said Nancy McDowell, a 68-year-old professor from Winter, Wisconsin. "But Bernie Sanders, even if he became president, I don't think would accomplish very much."
    So she's voting for Hillary Clinton.
    Elizabeth Riley, a local nurse who is running for state assembly, said she's tired of settling and, unlike McDowell, will vote her conscience.
    "Many people, and I'm one of them, have felt as though our leaders don't listen to us," Riley said. "And I think for a lot of years, those of us who tend to vote Democrat have made a decision to vote for the lesser of two evils."
    So she's voting for Sanders.
    Donald Trump will be the first candidate this cycle to travel to Northern Wisconsin, holding a rally Monday in the state's northernmost city, Superior.
    The state's blue-collar ethic should be a boon to the billionaire, trade-talking Trump, and yet recent polls show him trailing Texas Sen. Ted Cruz by up to 10 points.
    Bill Anala, a Sawyer County resident, sees Cruz as the "least evil," and says he's turned off by the whole process.
    "None of them are worth a damn," he said.
    He's so opposed to Trump that he says if he wins the nomination, he'd consider voting for Hillary Clinton.
    "I don't like the man. He's all talk and no substance," Anala said.
    Shirl LaBarre, a Hayward business owner and former local Republican Party official, says she's fed up with her own party.
    "We've witnessed how the (Republican) Party has decided who the candidate is going to be," LaBarre said.
    Despite Republicans being elected to Congress, she added, "Nothing's changing. There's such gridlock."
    She said she's most disappointed by the lack of civility in politics today. But Trump has been less than civil, at times.
    "It doesn't mean that I support every single thing that Donald Trump has said. But I don't support every single thing that most politicians have said," LaBarre said.