Donald Trump was not, as some pro-Trump supporters claim, a strong candidate. From his bombastic, abrasive persona to his lack of firm conviction on many issues, from his “locker-room” mentality to his tendency to wing it instead of preparing, Trump was a weak standard-bearer for the Republican Party. Don’t get me wrong. I am deeply satisfied and grateful that he won this election. I just understand how much his candidacy left to be desired. On the other hand, as bad as Trump was as a candidate, Hillary Clinton was worse. Saddled with a lack of charisma, a long string of scandals and an inherent disconnect with voters, she entered this race very low on the electability scale. Those shortcomings were amplified and augmented by further revelations provided by the slow drip of Wikileaks email dumps. The fact that she won the popular vote is quite astounding – until you consider whom she ran against. Back in May, I asserted that Trump could win the White House – but only because, with such poor candidates, it would be a low turnout affair. Indeed, that is what happened. Turnout this year was well below each of the last three presidential cycles, breaking a trend that started in 2000 of increasing voter turnout each election. At just under 56%, this election lagged four years ago by over 6 points. That mean that out of every 100 voters who went to the polls in 2012, eleven stayed home this year. By quantity, more than one in ten 2014 voters felt unmotivated by either candidate. That’s a clear tribute to the weakness of both.
I have a lot to say on this point, but I’ll try to distill it down to a few sentences. Political correctness was a big loser Tuesday, that’s for sure, and, to many, that equates to a victory for racism or sexism. What people like Van Jones don’t understand is that most Americans don’t want us to be divided into subgroups. Most Americans are well past the racist and sexist mentality the mainstream media likes to tout. Sure, there are still factions among all races who hang on to despicable prejudicial hatred, but they are the fringes of today’s American society. And, as far as racism against minorities goes, they make up a tiny sliver of those who voted for Trump. Many also claim sexism played a part in Hillary Clinton’s defeat. Nothing could be farther from the truth. To put that issue in its proper frame think of it this way. How many Trump voters would have voted for the Democratic nominee if he were a man with the same baggage and failings that Hillary Clinton brought to this campaign? If you believe a substantial number would have then you’d have to conclude that sexism exists, not among conservatives and Republicans, but among Democrats. I don’t think either is true – and exit poll numbers support that sentiment. Contrasting the 2012 election with Tuesday’s, there was little difference in the rate that white men voted for Trump and those that voted for Romney as compared to the overall vote. Moreover, white women failed to support Hillary Clinton as well – hardly a sexist bullet point. From FiveThirtyEight.com:
Clinton lost the votes of white women overall and struggled to win women voters without a college education in states that could have propelled her to victory.
Apparently, there are plenty of women in America, presumably amenable to a woman president, who weren’t keen on Hillary Clinton being that woman. The idea that sexism led to her defeat just doesn’t hold water. She lost, not because she is a woman; she lost because she was the worse of two bad candidates.
One of the purported appeals of Donald Trump early on was that he wasn’t an ideologue. Neither conservative nor liberal, Trump’s message was nationalistic and populist. Those characterizations about Trump himself may be accurate, but the same cannot be said about his election victory. Looking at exit polls, it is true that Democrats were 8 points less likely to vote for Clinton than Obama, but much of that discrepancy can be explained by a lower turnout among African-Americans. Also, Republicans were 4 points more likely to vote for Romney than Trump, but again, that can be explained by the “Never Trump” crowd. However, overall partisan participation in this election contradicts the idea that Donald Trump was an “extra-partisan” force in 2016, that the movement which elected him was non-partisan. I point to one salient statistic that nails home the contrary. In every single Senate election, the party that carried the state in the presidential race also won the Senate race in that state. That’s 34 races out of 34, and many of them were in battleground states like Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada. Clearly, in terms of party loyalty vs. populist movement, partisan lean was a much more impactful component.
Back in May, Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post wrote an article entitled “Republicans have a massive electoral map problem that has nothing to do with Donald Trump.” The title expresses pre-election consensus. Tuesday’s results, however, present a much different picture. Election 2016 marks the 2nd time in a generation that the Democratic nominee has lost the presidency even while winning the popular vote. In 2000, Al Gore could not hold off George W. Bush despite earning 500,000 more votes nationwide. A similar outcome resulted this year. Hillary Clinton’s margin of victory in the popular vote will end up somewhere around one million once all the votes have been tallied. Yet, as things stand now, she’ll lose the Electoral College by a hefty 306-232 margin. Here’s the reason. So many Democratic voters are congregated around major population centers in California, New York and Illinois. This year, in those three states, Hillary Clinton will rack up a vote advantage over Trump in excess of 6 million out of 21 million or so votes cast. With such a distorted lead built into the electorate in limited areas of the country, Democrats don’t get the electoral vote ‘bang for their buck,’ so to speak. Contrast those numbers with large Republican states such as Texas and, this year, Florida and Ohio. Trump won these three states, which cast about 22.5 million votes, with a vote advantage of just 1.4 million, approximately. To put it in more digestible terms, I give you these statistics which I base on a projected final national vote of 61 million votes for Clinton and 60 million for Donald Trump. With 232 electoral votes in her column, Hillary Clinton earned 1 EV for every 263,000 votes cast her way. Donald Trump required just 196,000 votes for each electoral vote he earned. Because of the makeup of the map, Trump’s EVs came 33% more easily than Clinton’s. And, furthermore, this Republican discount is likely to remain in place for at least a few more elections to come.