The 13 most amaz­ing find­ings in the 2016 exit poll from the US elec­tions

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL - By Chris Cil­lizza

It’s been a few days since we were all wit­nesses to the big­gest po­lit­i­cal up­set in pres­i­den­tial his­tory. As Pres­i­dent-elect Donald Trump and Pres­i­dent Obama hud­dle in Washington on Thurs­day, and as the gears of the in­com­ing gov­ern­ment be­gin to grind in earnest, I’m still to­tally cap­ti­vated by the “how” of this elec­tion. How did this hap­pen and what can we learn about our­selves and the coun­try as a re­sult?

The best way to do that — still — is the exit poll, the na­tional sur­vey of vot­ers that gives us a por­trait of who we are and what we be­lieve. As you might ex­pect in an elec­tion this his­toric, there are lots and lots of re­mark­able — and re­mark­ably con­tra­dic­tory — find­ings in the ex­its. My take­aways — of­fered only in the or­der I came up with them — are be­low. (A caveat: When you talk about slic­ing and dic­ing exit polls, you are, at times, deal­ing with very small num­bers of ac­tual peo­ple on which broad con­clu­sions are based. Con­sider that as you go through these num­bers.) 1. Trump won the white vote by a record mar­gin In 1984, Ron­ald Rea­gan won the white vote by 20 points on his way to a 525 elec­toral vote smash­ing of Wal­ter Mon­dale. Mitt Rom­ney matched that 20-point vic­tory in 2012 while los­ing rel­a­tively con­vinc­ingly to Pres­i­dent Obama. On Tues­day, Trump one-upped them both — lit­er­ally. He won the white vote 58 per­cent to 37 per­cent.

The white vote also con­tin­ued its de­cline as a per­cent­age of the over­all voter pool. In 1984, whites made up 86 per­cent of the to­tal elec­torate. That num­ber was 72 per­cent in 2012. And 70 per­cent in 2016. 2. There was no surge of fe­male vot­ers

For all of the talk that Trump’s com­ments about women — and the al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault made against him by a dozen women — would mean his­toric turnout among fe­male vot­ers (and a his­toric mar­gin of de­feat for Trump), it sim­ply never ma­te­ri­al­ized.

Women made up 52 per­cent of the over­all elec­torate in 2016 — down from 53 per­cent in 2012. And Hil­lary Clin­ton’s 12-point mar­gin over Trump among women was pretty darn close to the 11-point win among women that Obama claimed over Rom­ney four years ago. 3. There was no surge of Latino vot­ers

Trump built his cam­paign on a pledge to build a wall on our South­ern bor­der and make Mex­ico pay for it. He sug­gested dur­ing the cam­paign that a judge of Mex­i­can de­scent might not be able to rule fairly in a case in­volv­ing Trump Univer­sity. He said that Mex­ico was send­ing “crim­i­nals” and “rapists” to the United States. All of that led to pre­dic­tions of his­tor­i­cally high His­panic turnout, with many pre­dict­ing that 2016 would be the elec­tion that Lati­nos emerge as the elec­toral force that their pop­u­la­tion num­bers sug­gest they should be. It just didn’t hap­pen. In 2012, Hispanics made up 10 per­cent of the over­all elec­torate. That bumped up, marginally, to 11 per­cent in 2016. And, far more in­ter­est­ingly, Trump ac­tu­ally per­formed bet­ter among Hispanics than Rom­ney did — 29 per­cent to 27 per­cent. More tellingly, Clin­ton un­der­per­formed Obama’s 2012 show­ing among Hispanics by six points (71 per­cent for Obama, 65 per­cent for Clin­ton), an un­der­per­for­mance that al­lowed Trump’s slight over per­for­mance among white vot­ers to mat­ter more. 4. Ed­u­ca­tion level mat­tered yugely in your vote choice In 2012, Obama won both vot­ers who had grad­u­ated from col­lege and those who hadn’t; he took 50 per­cent among the for­mer group and 51 per­cent among the lat­ter. This time around, there was a far big­ger di­vide. Clin­ton won vot­ers with a col­lege de­gree 52 per­cent to 43 per­cent. Trump won vot­ers with­out a col­lege de­gree by eight points.

Also, con­trary to some of the con­ven­tional wis­dom out there about the 2016 voter, this was a more highly ed­u­cated elec­torate than in 2012. It split evenly — 50 per­cent for each — be­tween col­lege grads and non-col­lege grads. Four years ago, 53 per­cent of the elec­torate was non­col­lege grads as com­pared to 47 per­cent who had a col­lege de­gree. 5. Trump did bet­ter with white evan­gel­i­cals than Rom­ney Trump didn’t do much to court white evan­gel­i­cal vot­ers. And his per­sonal story — three mar­riages, two di­vorces — doesn’t seem like one that many evan­gel­i­cals could or would iden­tify with. But Trump ac­tu­ally did bet­ter among white evan­gel­i­cals than Rom­ney had in 2012; Trump won 81 per­cent of “white evan­gel­i­cal or white born-again Chris­tians” while Rom­ney took 78 per­cent. (White evan­gel­i­cals made up 26 per­cent of the elec­torate in both elec­tions.)

How to ex­plain it? One the­ory is that as a Mor­mon, Rom­ney was al­ways viewed skep­ti­cally by evan­gel­i­cal whites. An­other is that with so­cial is­sues on the wane as vot­ing is­sues, white evan­gel­i­cals acted more trib­ally; they’re an over­whelm­ingly Repub­li­can bloc and voted like it. Or maybe Trump’s an­tiabor­tion stance — and Clin­ton’s sup­port of abor­tion rights — was enough. 6. Trump didn’t bring lots of new vot­ers to the process Just 10 per­cent of vot­ers said that the 2016 elec­tion was their first time vot­ing. Of that group, Clin­ton won 56 per­cent to 40 per­cent over Trump. Of course, new vot­ers of­ten over­lap with younger vot­ers who are el­i­gi­ble to vote for the first time; Clin­ton won among 18- to 24-year-olds by 21 points. 7. The econ­omy was the big is­sue — and Clin­ton won it A ma­jor­ity (52 per­cent) of vot­ers said the econ­omy was the most im­por­tant is­sue fac­ing the coun­try. (Vot­ers were given a choice of four is­sues; “ter­ror­ism” was the sec­ond most com­monly named “im­por­tant” is­sue, with 18 per­cent choos­ing it.) Among those econ­omy vot­ers, Clin­ton beat Trump by 10 points. Scratch­ing your head yet? More be­low — but this is one of sev­eral find­ings in the exit poll that sug­gest peo­ple weren’t vot­ing on is­sues. Like, at all. 8. This was a change elec­tion. And Trump was the change can­di­date. To me, this is the sin­gle most im­por­tant num­ber in the exit poll in un­der­stand­ing what vot­ers were think­ing when they chose Trump. Pro­vided with four can­di­date qual­i­ties and asked which mat­tered most to their vote, al­most 4 in 10 (39 per­cent) said a can­di­date who “can bring needed change.” (A can­di­date who “has the right ex­pe­ri­ence” was the sec­ond most im­por­tant char­ac­ter trait.) Among those change vot­ers, Trump took 83 per­cent of the vote to just 14 per­cent for Clin­ton.

The de­sire for change ap­pears to be at the root of the choice lots and lots of vot­ers made. And Trump was change while Clin­ton was more of the same. 9. Oba­macare was a wind be­neath Trump’s wings The late Oc­to­ber an­nounce­ment that the av­er­age pre­mium for peo­ple in the fed­eral in­sur­ance ex­change of the Af­ford­able Care Act would rise by an av­er­age of 25 per­cent landed like a lead bal­loon on a not-in­signif­i­cant por­tion of the elec­torate.

Donald Trump, 70, will be the 45th pres­i­dent of the United States. The real-es­tate de­vel­oper and for­mer re­al­ity-TV star is the first per­son to win the pres­i­dency with­out hav­ing pre­vi­ously held public of­fice or served in the U.S. mil­i­tary.

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