The truth in num­bers

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE -

Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial win last week truly was his­toric for many rea­sons, but a re­view of the sta­tis­tics pub­lished in the wake of the 2016 elec­tion show a big­ger story: Repub­li­can didn’t win the elec­tion so much as Democrats lost it.

While the of­fi­cial num­bers have yet to be cer­ti­fied, the turnout in this year’s elec­tion will be the low­est in 20 years. Much has been made of how white mid­dle-class vot­ers came out in force in Rust Belt states to elect Trump as the next pres­i­dent, and that’s not nec­es­sar­ily false, but it also over-sim­pli­fies the facts.

Demo­cratic turnout plum­meted com­pared to both Obama cam­paigns. As of Satur­day, Clin­ton had earned more than 60.8 mil­lion votes — enough to re­tain her lead in the na­tion’s pop­u­lar vote — but that pales in com­par­i­son to the 69.5 mil­lion and 65.9 mil­lion votes that Obama pulled in 2008 and 2012 re­spec­tively.

Trump also has not done nearly as well as some of his vo­cal pro­po­nents might think. In fact, he’s earned fewer votes than Mitt Rom­ney did in 2012 — roughly 60.2 mil­lion as of Satur­day to Rom­ney’s 60.9 mil­lion, de­spite an in­crease of about 10 mil­lion reg­is­tered vot­ers.

When you be­gin to look closer at the all-im­por­tant bat­tle­ground states, the num­bers are even bleaker for Democrats. Cam­paign of­fi­cials rou­tinely said that Clin­ton would have to fare as nearly as well as Obama did to suc­ceed, re­ly­ing upon young, mi­nor­ity and fe­male vot­ing blocs for her to over­come Trump’s white male base.

In Michi­gan, Clin­ton got 13 per­cent fewer votes than Obama. Trump got 7 per­cent more than Rom­ney. In Penn­syl­va­nia, Clin­ton got 5 per­cent fewer votes than Obama, while Trump got 9 per­cent more than Rom­ney. In Wis­con­sin, Clin­ton got 15 per­cent fewer votes than Obama, and al­though Trump did slightly worse than Rom­ney, it was a state that was home to Rom­ney’s run­ning mate, Paul Ryan. What caused these drops in the most im­por­tant places? Pri­mar­ily, core Demo­cratic vot­ing groups likes blacks and His­pan­ics didn’t vote along party lines for Clin­ton as many as­sumed they would. As Pew Re­search notes, “Clin­ton held an 80-point ad­van­tage among blacks (88 per­cent to 8 per­cent) com­pared with Obama’s 87-point edge four years ago (93 per­cent to 6 per­cent). In 2008, Obama had a 91-point ad­van­tage among blacks.”

The young also did not come out for Clin­ton na­tion­wide as they had for Obama, as Clin­ton held an 18-point ad­van­tage on the youngest vot­ers com­pared to Obama’s 23-point ad­van­tage — per­haps ev­i­dence that they didn’t view Clin­ton as the change they saw in Obama or even her pri­mary op­po­nent, Sen. Bernie San­ders.

So while the “white-lash” the­ory may be pop­u­lar, the truth be­hind Clin­ton’s de­feat ap­pears to lie in the fact that vot­ers were just not pas­sion­ate enough about her to get out and ac­tu­ally vote for her, and those who did cast bal­lots weren’t as loyal to the party as they were in re­cent elec­tions.

As much as Democrats may not want to take the elec­tion as a re­pu­di­a­tion of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, it’s hard not to. After eight years of hop­ing, many Demo­cratic vot­ers clearly felt that the “change” promised to them was not tan­gi­ble enough and ei­ther voted for Trump or stayed home on Elec­tion Day.

Just take a look at the county-level re­sults map of Amer­ica to re­al­ize just how con­ser­va­tive the na­tion is still. About 90 per­cent of Amer­ica’s con­ti­nen­tal land­mass voted Repub­li­can — in fact, one could drive from the Gulf Coast tip of Florida to the Pa­cific Coast in Wash­ing­ton with­out en­ter­ing a county that voted Demo­cratic. Clin­ton’s big­gest sup­port, like most Demo­cratic cam­paigns, is largely con­tained to metropolitan cities and their sub­urbs.

The 2016 elec­tion should serve as a wake-up call that the global so­ci­ety that Obama has laid out is not the de­sire of all Amer­i­cans. In or­der for Democrats to re-en­ter fed­eral power in 2018 or 2020, the party will have to re­assess what the goal of its sup­port­ers is, and that may not be the same as a decade ago.

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