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Well, that happened.
We were all wrong for the most part. The data, which suggested a close race that could swing, wasn’t necessarily far off but the way it happened has to go down as one of the biggest shocks in recent history.
The best way I can comprehend what happened is to sort of breakdown how Trump was able to pull this thing off.
Let’s Talk Numbers (stats from)
In a quick way, the 2012 vs. 2016 race look similar to each other. Women broke for Democrats at about even rates as did white voters vs. non white voters for each party.
However, the biggest breakthrough for Trump came from his margin with men and non-college educated white voters. Mitt Romney for starters won men by 7% and non-college educated whites by 26% in 2012. This year? Trump is looking at 11% advantage with men and by nearly 39%.
Other important things to look at, and this is just me hand-picking stats but ones I find interesting, were how those who thought the economy was the most important issue preferred Clinton by 10% points. Those who saw immigration preferred Trump by a 32% swing. 33% of voters thought the economy was “good” and they preferred Clinton by a robust 76-19% rating. Those who thought it was “not” good (41%) preferred Trump from 55-39% and those who saw it “poor” saw Trump win with 79%-15%.
These are important factors because the economy was considered the most important issue. Clinton seemed to be trusted more to handle it but if you had a negative view of the way things were (62% total) then Trump was preferred.
Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were the surprises of the night going from looking safe blue to Trump territory (with Michigan joining).
I like to personally look at Pennsylvania given my ties to the state and my shock to have seen it look like a moderate Clinton victory to a small Trump success.
Now, this race was very close. With less than 2% of the vote separating us from a Clinton presidency. But looking at Pennsylvania you can see how Trump built a coalition to turn it red. It was simple….he turned the red counties even more red.
Obviously the attention was on the Philly suburbs, but let’s take a look at Perry County as an example. A small county in the southern part of the state, Perry is very rural and a safe conservative district. In 2012, Mitt Romney won with about 69% (nice) of the vote which earned him about 12,500 votes. In 2016, Trump bumped up to nearly 75% with over 15,600. Clinton would lose about a thousand votes from Obama in 2012. Even smaller Juniata County saw Trump find nearly two thousand more votes with Clinton losing around 800 votes.
These are very small numbers but match up with one of the ongoing theories I hear occasionally on television that the Democrats slightly regressed in blue areas while Republicans were able to find more red. These counties, deeply white, helped Trump win the state by just about a percentage point as Clinton ran slightly behind 2012 Obama’s numbers in urban and suburban areas.
Obviously Perry and Juniata weren’t bellwethers but mostly white, non-college educated counties were Trump’s firewall and Clinton’s kryptonite was slightly depressed showings in major metro areas.
In every blog I post, I like to think I have the answers. Often times, I’m wrong but usually its something that I believe to be possible. Sure, I didn’t think Trump could be the nominee at all but the thought always remained in the back of my head. I figured he would drop out and save face but to his credit, he saw it out and was able to tap into something never before seen in my lifetime.
This time, and I say this to the few who I know will be reading this, I have no words for you. I have no idea. This is my hobby, something I genuinely love to do, and I failed. Obviously, this wasn’t my fault (I voted therefore did my part) but I feel massively letdown and upset. It has nothing to do with who won but by how wrong we all were. How did we not see Pennsylvania being one of the biggest threats to leave the blue column? How about Wisconsin?
There’s something we aren’t seeing. Its easy to say, well one party has trouble holding on to the Oval Office for so long, but Trump is not your normal candidate. He’s a NYC billionaire (allegedly) who usually would be the villain in direct-to-TV movies on rural people losing their neighborhood. But, he was able to drive up white voters and I guess…some mild apathy towards Hillary had relaxed city turnout.
I can’t afford for Trump to be a disaster, so I pray that he succeeds. However, I have no indication if the last six years have any belief that he has any idea what he is doing. I know we all like the concept of “let’s work together”, but you know when the fuck did you guys do that with President Obama? Literal government shutdown happened on your watch. What does Trump say to the LGBTQ community? Black, Hispanic, Muslim, women and Asian voters? There’s genuine fear amongst these citizens and that needs to be addressed before we give him our time of day.
The only pride I have is that the Democrats are the party of inclusion. Maybe that’s what turns some away. Maybe that’s how Applachia continues to sprint towards red.
It is hard to be excited when this blow to the stomach has happened to us. I, frankly, feel defeated and drained. I am not even mad that my candidate lost, but by how gobsmacked we all were. You feel like a failure, we got out….we voted….we were mad! But, Donald Trump was able to pull it off and that’s not without accident.
Its hard to imagine being excited about Cory Booker in 2020 or Andrew Cuomo. Maybe we can draft Elizabeth Warren to run. But who knows if she’d even want to because I certainly wouldn’t after what happened this cycle.
Bernie Sanders, flaws and all, exposed that a progressive wing can be established. There needs to be accountability but also….
I don’t know. I genuinely do not. How will we drive up the suburbs again? Will these small red pockets get even more red, making it that much critical to get out and vote? Hillary had the best run GOTV campaign possible, yet still….no dice.
But I can rest easy knowing that there is a tomorrow. I can rest easy knowing that there is inclusivity and passion on my part. In 2010 and 2014, the Democratic Party got blasted. But we weren’t blindsided.
I don’t know what’s next. But there has to be something. Complacency is not an option.