Hillary Clinton lost the electoral vote to Donald Trump by 232 to 290, with Michigan’s 16 votes still undecided. Even if she wins these, her 248 vote total falls 84 votes short of Barack Obama’s 2012 total of 332. Clinton lost the following stares that Obama carried : Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Iowa. She may yet lose Michigan, and she barely won Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Maine (!!).
Yet the movement in this election did not only go in one direction. Trump did better than Romney in many states — much better in some — but Clinton did better than Obama in quite a few states as well, though not well enough to turn any of Obama’s 2012 losses into her wins. Let’s take a look at the comparisons :
States where Clinton did better than Obama:
Arizona : – 4.1 % versus Obama’s – 10 %
Georgia : – 5.2 % versus Obama’s – 8 %
Texas : – 9.1 % versus Obama’s – 16 %
California : + 28.2 % versus Obama’s + 21 %
Colorado : + 5.5 versus Obama’s + 4
Virginia : + 5.9 % versus Obama’s + 3 %
Washington : + 18.1 % versus Obama’s + 14 %
Massachusetts : + 27.3 % versus Obama’s + 23 %
District of Columbia : + 91 % versus Obama’s + 84 %
Kansas : – 21 % versus Obama’s – 22 %
Utah : – 18.1 versus Obama’s – 48 %
There were also a few states where Clinton and Obama won the same results :
Maryland : + 25 in both elections
Oregon : + 11 % in both
Idaho : – 32 % in both
Illinois : + 16.5 % versus 16.0
It’s pretty easy to identify what these states represent. They either have substantial Latino voter populations, or large numbers of highly educated voters or both; or they are heavily Mormon. Clinton targeted the first two voter interests, and her campaign to them succeeded. As for Mormon Utah and (less so) Idaho, Clinton was less the beneficiary than Trump was the reject. Lastly, Kansas. Is there non-GOP potential in this red bastion ? Perhaps. Bernie Sanders easily won its Democratic primary.
Add to the above, these three states that Clinton held or competed closely in despite some leakage :
Nevada : won by 2.4 %; Obama won it by 6
North Carolina : Clinton lost it by 3.8 %, Obama in 2012 lost by 3.0 %
Florida : Clinton lost by 1.3 %; Obama won it by 0.5 %
As America’s numbers of Latino voters and the highly educated (with much overlap between the two) will grow, Clinton’s targeting should continue to be a Democratic party priority. A less easily subverted candidate than Clinton — whom Russian espionage and FBI shenanigans crushed — has a serious chance of turning Arizona and Georgia right away and Texas not long after. Nor can Trump, or his GOP successors, count much on Florida, where an aging white vote base cannot hold off the state’s growing population of Latino and Haitian voters much longer. Democrats can very likely bank an additional 85 electoral votes from these five states : one more than the Obama electoral votes that Clinton lost.
That said, Trump made major gains in many states that Democrats have long owned. Let’s look at these numbers:
Minnesota : Trump lost by 1.5 %; Romney lost by 8 %
Wisconsin : Trump won by 1.0 %; Romney lost by 7; %
Michigan : Trump has an 0.3 % lead; Romney lost by 9 %
Pennsylvania : Trump won by 1.2 %; Romney lost by 5 %
Iowa : Trump won by 9.5 % Romney lost by 6 %
Ohio : Trump won by 8.6 %, Romney lost by 2 %
Trump also scored large gains in states too Democratic for him to win — this time :
Maine : Trump lost by 2.7 %; Romney lost by 15 %
New Hampshire : Trump lost by 0.3 %; Romney by 6 %
Vermont : Trump lost by 26.8 %; Romney lost by 48 %
Delaware : Trump lost by 11.5 %; Romney lost by 19 %
Connecticut : Trump lost by 12.2 %, Romney by 18 %
New York : Trump lost by 21.3 %; Romney lost by 27 %
It’s unlikely that Trump, or a GOP successor, can flip any of these except possibly Maine. Nonetheless, the signal is clear : in states with few Latino or Black voters, and not an overwhelming percentage of highly educated, a white voter working class appeal has serious legs. A candidate who can somehow appeal to educated voters without losing his or her populist edge, can change the result in Maine and likely in neighboring New Hampshire. (Interesting to note that New Jersey, home of Trump cheerleader Chris Christie, gave Trump a 15.2 % loss, not much improvement over Romney’s 17 % defeat.)
So ; did Clinton err by pursuing Latino and Black voters and the highly educated ? Much criticism has aimed at her decision not to focus on white voters without a college degree. Clearly her weakness with these voters crushed her on election day. She lost overwhelmingly white, rural and small town counties by 30, even 40 points. The margin in Wyoming was n astonishing – 47.6 %, in West Virginia 42.2 %, 36.4 % in Oklahoma, 36.3 in North Dakota, 29.8 % in Kentucky and in South Dakota. These states don’t carry much electoral vote — 40 in all — but elections are often signified by whose base is the more committed: it’s a sign of enthusiasm. Clinton amassed huge margins only in DC ( + 88.7); even in Hawaii her margin was only 37.2, less than Obama’s + 43 in 2012. Definitely Clinton supporters had less reach and less depth than Trump’s.
Still, she has won the popular vote — at this writing, by almost 1,000,000 votes; counters anticipate her final margin to be about 1.5 % overall, a plurality that should be reflected in electoral votes too. That seems unlikely; so, did her campaign gamble one too many stakes ? I think not. The Comey FBI letter issued 11 days before the election cost Clinton at least two points, and the continuing dumps of Russian espionage — and the second Comey letter — kept her vote down: remember, early voting was going on all during those eleven days. A campaign can control much of the conversation, but it can’t block out everything. Last minute “surprises” have turned quite a few Presidential elections in our history; so it was this time. Had Clinton not lost those two points, she’d have won Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida and the election.
Her campaign realized, I think, that it had little margin for error. She had barely fended off Bernie Sanders in key state primaries: why would the final be much different ? Sanders crushed Clinton in all sorts of other states. She may have won Sanders votes — at least 91 percent of them — but not their enthusiasm. Thus the strategy of going to her own base : voters of color and educated white women. That it almost succeeded, despite the Comey letter and Russian espionage, and despite the Sanders factor, tells me that she made the right decision. And that the future success of Democratic presidential campaigns lies on that route.
That’s because Trump voters are old; he won only the age group 45 to 65 but was strong enough among the over 65. With voters under age 45, he lost badly — worst among voters 30 or younger. The future does not belong to him. It belongs to the Democrats, whose demographic continues to grow, while the Trump support continues to decline. The electorate of 2016 was more than 30 percent non-white; by 2024 it will be at least 35 percent, and by 2032, at least 40 percent. In addition, the workplace is transforming. The old manufacturing jobs are not coming back — this is a cliche, but it’s true – while the jobs that are coming are new economy jobs that will either require formidable education or will be service jobs requiring special training and much product skill. The new economy will feature start-ups, too: small unit entrepreneurships in which one person’s idea becomes a separately small prosperity hive. These are Clinton campaign targets, and they will be the motors of future Democratic campaigns even as GOP hopes are owned now by a man who lives in the financial economy and speaks the old ways.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere