AFRICANGLOBE – An astonishing spectacle of the 2016 election aftermath is the false account of why Trump won. The accepted wisdom is that Trump succeeded in awakening a popular movement of anger and frustration among white, blue-collar, less educated, mostly male, voters, particularly in non-urban areas. Trump promised them jobs, safe borders, and dignity, and they responded by turning out in masses at his pre-election rallies and eventually at the ballots, carrying him to victory.
This story is mostly wrong. Trump did not win because he was more attractive to this base of white voters. He won because Hillary Clinton was less attractive to the traditional Democratic base of Black, minorities, and more educated voters. This is a profound fact, because Democratic voters were so extraordinarily repelled by Trump that they were supposed to have the extra motivation to turn out. Running against Trump, any Democratic candidate should have ridden a wave of anti-Trump sentiment among these voters. It therefore took a strong distaste for Hillary Clinton among the Democratic base to not only undo this wave, but to lose many additional liberal votes.
The story of Hillary Clinton’s defeat, then, is not the Trump Movement erupting in the ballots, nor the fable that some “Reagan Democrats” flipped again from Obama to Trump. The story is altogether different, and very simple: the Democratic base did not turn out to vote as it did for Obama. Those sure-Democrats who stayed home handed the election to Trump.
Take Michigan for example. A state that Obama won in 2012 by 350,000 votes, Clinton lost by roughly 10,000. Why? She received 300,000 votes less than Obama did in 2012. Detroit and Wayne County should kick themselves because of the 595,253 votes they gave Obama in 2012, only 518,000 voted for Clinton in 2016. More than 75,000 Motown Obama voters did not bother to vote for Clinton. They did not become Trump voters – Trump received only 10,000 votes more than Romney did in this county. They simply stayed at home. If even a fraction of these Democrats had turned out to vote, Michigan would have stayed blue.
Wisconsin tells the same numbers story, even more dramatically. Trump got no new votes. He received exactly the same number of votes in America’s Dairyland as Romney did in 2012. Both received 1,409,000 votes. But Clinton again could not spark many Obama voters to turn out for her: she tallied 230,000 votes less than Obama did in 2012. This is how a 200,000-vote victory margin for Obama in the Badger State became a 30,000-vote defeat for Clinton.
This pattern is national. Clinton’s Black voter turnout dropped more than 11 percent compared to 2012. The support for Clinton among active Black voters was still exceedingly high (87 percent, versus 93 percent for Obama), but the big difference was the turnout. Almost two million Black votes cast for Obama in 2012 did not turn out for Clinton. According to one plausible calculation, if in North Carolina Blacks had turned out for Clinton as they had for Obama, she would have won the state. I saw a similar downtrend in my own eyes: I voted in a predominantly African American precinct in the south side of Chicago, and I can testify that the lines for early voting at the polling place were much shorter than they were in 2012.
I can only speculate how many Bernie Sanders supporters held out. Even after the Democratic convention, about a third of Sanders followers were still not supporting Clinton. A month before the election 55 percent of them were continuing to view Clinton negatively, and a week before the elections Sanders was still pleading with supporters in Madison, Wisconsin to “go beyond personality” and show up for Clinton. Could it be that their dispassion for their party’s candidate rode Trump to victory?
It is of course true that in some areas, like Pennsylvania, Trump’s gains over Romney were more impressive than Clinton’s loss of Obama voters. So the story of an energized GOP working class base is not a total fantasy. But whatever Trump successfully stirred among GOP voters was not enough to win the election. Trump won despite being flawed in many ways, because Hillary Clinton was deemed even more flawed by her own base.
The Clinton camp is going to deny the charge that Trump won because Clinton failed to bring out the vote. They would point to the large, unprecedented, 1.3 million margin of victory that Clinton enjoyed in the popular vote. The problem with this popular vote margin is that much of it comes from uncontested states like California and New York. California alone gave Clinton a 3.2 million popular vote advantage. Since the margin of victory does not count, Trump did not campaign in California, and it is possible that many GOP supporters did not bother to vote. If the popular vote were to matter, candidates would surely have paid more attention to these large states, and the voting patterns could have shaped up differently. Trump would still have lost California, but perhaps by a different margin.
It is remarkable and surprising that the elections were decided by Democrats distaste for Clinton and not Trump’s ability to reach expand the Republican vote. Think back to the weeks leading to the elections. There was a shared sense that the Republican party was losing and even disintegrating because it was unable to clamp down on a renegade candidate, having allowed populism to prevail in the primaries. The Democratic party, by contrast, was thought to be on the verge of victory and even a sweep of the Senate because it was cold calculated, using its ironfisted internal machination to discard the populist candidate and to present the then-thought more “electable” Clinton. How wrong that perception turned out to be!
By: Omri Ben-Shahar
No Black Agenda No Vote – ProffTruth