The Westside is one of America’s liberal strongholds, home to activist celebrities and Democratic donors willing to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for breakfast with the president.
The region overwhelmingly backed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s election — except for one precinct in Beverly Hills.
Here, along Sunset Boulevard in the shadow of the Beverly Hills Hotel, voters picked Donald Trump over Clinton, creating an island of red in a sea of blue.
Even many residents were puzzled about why this particular slice of the Westside went for Trump, especially when some neighboring precincts in the Hollywood Hills, Bel-Air and Westwood went for Clinton by huge margins.
For one thing, at least some voters said they identified in some ways with the billionaire and believed his policies might be better — for them and the country.
“I’m less for Donald Trump than I am against Hillary Clinton,” said resident Marvin Gross, adding that he liked Trump’s policies on repealing the Affordable Care Act and being more aggressive on immigration.
Did his neighbors vote for Trump, too? “Nobody talks to their neighbors in Beverly Hills,” Gross said.
Indeed, this part of Beverly Hills is marked by huge homes, some hidden from streets by lush landscaping or grand walls and gates.
One woman walking her dog along Rodeo Drive said she was happy to see Trump end up in the White House.
“He’s the person who is going to make America glorious again,” said the woman, who didn’t want to give her name. “I love him. I like him. I believe that he is going to be like Nixon.”
The neighborhood — which runs roughly from the Beverly Hills Hotel to the Los Angeles Country Club — voted for Trump 54% to 42%, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis.
Trump owns a home in the area, though he’s told luxury magazines he often prefers to stay at the Beverly Hills Hotel when he’s in town (a house that he previously owned here is now on the market for $29.9 million).
That Trump received so much support in the area shocked some residents, who described the community as progressive and fairly liberal. Walking with her 2-month-old daughter, Eve Rodsky started to become emotional when she thought about the results of Tuesday’s election.
“People do things in the voting booth that maybe they’re not willing to say in public,” Rodsky said. “I can’t believe anybody in Los Angeles County voted for Donald Trump.
“This is not just an election loss. It’s like a death,” she said.
At Will Rogers Memorial Park across from the hotel, Rodger Berman said it makes sense that a wealthy enclave would see a kindred spirit in Trump.
“People think with their pocketbooks — and not about anyone else,” he said.
Berman and others said the Trump win shows that Beverly Hills was one of the places where some backers kept their views to themselves.
“I think some people secretly like him. Or secretly support him,” Berman said. “People that are smart — it would be impossible to be proud of that decision.”
It’s not as if Trump didn’t have any vocal backers on the Westside. Since summer, numerous news organizations profiled the “Trumpettes,” a group of wealthy women in Bel-Air who enthusiastically supported the Republican.
After the election, one of the group’s leaders, Toni Holt Kramer, posted an exuberant essay about the stunning upset. “Thank you God for this great opportunity for our Superman Hero to Save America and lead us on a new journey forward,” she wrote.
Voters here also overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 55, which will extend a state income tax on the wealthiest Californians. The richest 1.5% of Californians paid $33.9 billion in income tax last year.
Support for Trump in neighboring precincts ranged from 21% to 45%.
For Trump’s connections to Beverly Hills, it was Clinton who seemed to have the stronger connections.
She held numerous fundraisers in the region. One of Clinton’s last fundraising swings through the area came last month in the form of a concert with Elton John. Dinner tickets cost $33,400, and for $100,000, donors could attend a reception with the candidate and get a better spot at the table. President Obama was in town two weeks ago for a Beverly Hills fundraiser that cost $100,000 a head.
Clinton was supported by a host of Hollywood celebrities. Musicians Beyonce and Jay Z stumped for her in the battleground state of Ohio just days before the election.
But residents are quick to point out that many in the neighborhood are not celebrities and in some cases view the world much differently.
Disgusted with the choice between Trump and Clinton, Joseph Essakher didn’t vote Tuesday. But he said he understands why some of his neighbors went for Trump: money.
“They think Trump is better for the economy,” he said.
5:58 p.m.: This post was updated to note Trump once owned a home in the area.