As Donald Trump won a “stunning” victory, poll numbers of the “political earthquake” have already begun to be deconstructed. How was Trump able to upset the apple cart, when overwhelmingly all poll data before the elections showed Clinton as the likely president-elect?
As ‘not my president’ becomes the rallying cry for American citizens who are shocked to see a political amateur become their leader, it is clear something somewhere was dismissed, not taken sufficiently into account or not factored at all into the equations. What is now being closely questioned is whether Trump won or Clinton lost — and it seems very likely that the latter is what won Trump the US presidency.
Donald Trump’s electoral map looks unlike what Republican nominee maps have usually looked like. Clearly, the rage of the rustbelt went under-appreciated, even in the Trump camp, where internal polling did not see a victory for the business tycoon. The same can be said of what is clearly a deeper anguish and anxiety over race. And thus, while it was expected that white, working class individuals with no more than a high-school education would form the base support for Trump, exit polls indicate that all white people, regardless of class, gender and education levels, took what a panelist on MSNBC called “the last stand” against the browning of America.
White voters made up 70% of the total voters; of these, 58% voted for Trump and 37% for Clinton, and these white voters were both male and female, almost all ages, and from mid- and higher income groups. The usual understanding of demographics – men and white voting for Republicans, women and minorities voting for Democrats – has not been strictly followed in this latest US election.
How minorities voted
Looking further at the emerging statistics, the voter turnout was just over 55%, the lowest since the general elections in 2004. Fewer democrats turned up to vote than they did for the outgoing president Barack Obama, to the tune of 7 million. Fewer African-Americans, too, turned up to vote – a key drop from 13% to 12% from the last elections. Of those who did, fewer than expected voted for Hillary Clinton than they did for Obama. In fact, a slightly larger share of black and Latino voters went for Trump than Mitt Romney in the previous elections, and this despite the divisive and race-baiting rhetoric used by Trump during his election campaign. So, 88% of African-American voters cast their ballots for Clinton versus Obama’s 93%; Trump garnered 8% of their vote versus Romney’s 7%. And 65% of Hispanics vote went to Clinton, down from the 71% collected by Obama, while Trump saw 29% cast votes in his favour versus Romney’s 27%. Another minority group, Asian-Americans, too, cast fewer votes for Clinton that they did for Obama (65% versus 73%). But while a greater share of non-white Americans voted for Clinton, the difference was not enough to offset the gap between her and Trump.
Again, while more younger citizens (18-44) voted for Clinton than Trump and more older citizens (45 and older) voted for Trump than Clinton, the number of individuals in the younger bracket that came out to vote was significantly lower than the number of people in the older bracket. In fact, Clinton had less support from young voters than what Bernie Sanders received in the primaries and Obama four years ago. Millennials in particular do not like either candidate – Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio all received a greater share of millennial votes during the primaries.
Winner takes it all
A Reuters/Ipsos poll in May showed that both Trump and Clinton had a likability problem – around the same percentage of number indicated they would be voting for either Trump or Clinton because they didn’t like the other candidate, a reason which weighed out the other two reasons (liking the candidate’s political position and liking the candidate personally). In the end, disinterest and apathy, sexism and a genuine dislike for Hillary Clinton, due to her close identification of the Washington status quo, are all factors that ended up costing Clinton the elections and tilting the balance in Trump’s favour.
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