A recent Washington Post interactive lets users identify the closest county that voted the opposite from their own. 

The Chronicle traveled to Durham's closest opposite, Randolph County, to talk with local residents about their votes in the 2016 presidential election. 

Randolph County, about an hour-and-a-half drive from campus, is home to approximately 140,000 people. Ironically, it was also home to Trinity College before the institution moved to Durham in the late 1800s, eventually becoming Duke University.

Although nearly 80 percent of Durham County's voters supported Hillary Clinton—her largest percentage of votes in any North Carolina county—about 80 percent of Randolph County's residents went the other way. In Randolph, Trump earned a larger percentage of the vote than either Republican candidate Mitt Romney in 2012 or John McCain in 2008. 

Several Randolph residents couched their support for the president-elect in economic terms. 

Mild-mannered retiree Jesse Hembree works part-time at the Blue Luna Tattoo Company in Asheboro, where Randolph County's government is located. He voted for Trump because he believed it would benefit the working-class. 

“I think that the working man needs a break and has needed a break for a long time,” Hembree said. “I think it’s not so much about building walls, exporting out people from other countries, even though it’s been done in the past. Even though a lot of people took that to heart. " 

On election night at Duke—where the majority of students supported Clinton—several students expressed their dismay and fears about deportation and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Hembree, on the other hand, did not anticipate Trump's policies requiring people to be fearful. 

"A lot of people took it personal," he said. "Like, because they have a heritage from another country. They’re afraid they’re going to be asked to leave or their family’s going to be asked to leave. I don’t think that’s the case at all.”

And Hembree said he still believes in the American dream for everyone. 

“Everybody here has a right to live here, if they made it here, and they’re given an opportunity to succeed," Hembree said. That’s why everybody wants to come to the United States, because they’ve got that opportunity to succeed—you know—land of the free, home of the brave.”

Mike Jones, owner of Mike’s Chicago Dogs and More, said he supported Trump in the election. His restaurant is just down the street from the county's Republican headquarters.

“I have a few liberals that come in here,” Jones said from behind the counter of his restaurant as he watched a re-run of Game 7 of the World Series. “But most of the people that come in here are conservatives.”

Although he described himself as a conservative, Jones said he’s “equally pissed off at both parties.”

“For me it came down to a choice between very, very high risk and total disaster. And I went for the high risk,” Jones said. “The fact that Trump is not a politician was appealing. Career politicians have gotten us into the mess that we’re in, and the country is ready for change.”

Neither Jones nor Hembree was surprised by Durham's strong showing for Clinton. Jones added that the Triangle has a "strong reputation" for being liberal. 

“Well, I would say probably 70 percent of the population in that county are in a higher tax bracket to begin with,” Hembree said.

Trump supporters in Randolph County cited fears about the Islamic State terrorist organization as a major contributor to their votes. Jones said that the government was doing nothing to vet refugees coming into the country. Fact-checkers have established a vetting mechanism, but criticisms remain. 

"The internet has got a lot of information," Jones noted. "Not all of it is true, but if a fraction of what’s on there is true, then the fact that there are al-Qaeda cells already in various states, including North Carolina, that’s something to be very concerned about.”

Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry recently said North Carolina has one of the top three terrorism-prevention programs nationwide, ABC11 reported earlier this month. 

Hembree said he hoped Trump’s election would be a wake-up call for Americans.

“I think it’s a good thing, in some ways, that Trump got in, because he will stir the pot and cause people to not be so complacent with the government they have,” Hembree said.

But there were still some non-Trump supporters to be found. Inside the local laundromat, Pamela Martin said she supported Bernie Sanders, although she did not vote this year. 

She said that Clinton has “had her chance” and that she is “shady," questioning why anyone would vote for her. Martin raised doubts about recount efforts underway in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, urging people to give Trump a chance. 

“The people spoke. I didn’t—but the people spoke,” she said. 

She thought a lot of people in the area voted for Trump because of the lack of a better candidate, calling him “the lesser of two evils.”

Martin also said she sent Trump an email telling him that she will support him, but that she wants him to try to unite the country before Christmas.