Well, that was a bit messier than I expected! For about an hour and a half, things just seemed to be going pretty much according to script and then, slowly but surely, something happened. In the simplest terms, the voters happened. Regardless of how much we think we understand the world and how it works, that knowledge is far from perfect, most particularly when it comes to predicting human behavior. It is actually quite remarkable that we get things right as often as we do. Just as mathematical analysis has become more prominent in the world of sports, it has done much the same in politics. It is not surprising that the top two tabs on the popular website 538 are Politics and Sports. The founder of the site, Nate Silver, made his name with his nearly perfect predictions of the US Presidential election in 2008 and 20012. He doesn’t look nearly as smart today.
Of course, most any of us who took the time to study the race and history and polling and demographic trends pointed out some of the factors that appear to have led to Donald Trump’s victory. I mentioned the “old white folks” factor and that it could be critical in a number of states in the Northeast and Rust Belt. It appears to have, in fact, been a huge factor. Some have mentioned that these people are the old “Reagan Democrats” but that isn’t likely. As an analyst whose name can’t recall recently mentioned on one of those “talking heads” shows, the Reagan Democrats are now mostly 6 feet under. Not that the Trump voter and the Reagan Democrat don’t have a lot in common. They tend to be struggling economically, socially conservative and patriotic in a very “Pledge of Allegiance” sort of way. They were a natural audience for Trump’s message and his genius was seeing that and courting them throughout the closing weeks of the campaign. As it turns out, he was right.
Of course, that wasn’t the only factor. I mentioned that I thought that the suburban white women had a chance to be decisive. I thought, for a number of reasons, that they would swing towards Clinton. It appears that they did not and that Trump actually won what the exit polling describes simply as “white women.” I do think this might be a place where the FBI investigation and the Wikileaks email releases really hurt Clinton. But, as I have mentioned many times, I could be wrong. In fact I would be careful how many conclusions you draw from the exit polling data. If it had been more on the money, the TV networks would not have been so caught by surprise last night. It appears that the “unpolled” voters may have been a real phenomenon this year. Again, it makes the Trump campaign look smarter than they likely are, that they alluded to those voters on several occasions.
Finally, I don’t think I was wrong about the Latino vote. Trump did lose almost the entire Southwest United States. In places like New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Arizona, there is little doubt that those voters moved the race in favor of Mrs. Clinton. This is likely to be a long term phenomenon. In Florida, it didn’t play out that way and that is probably because the largest group of Latino voters are Cuban-Americans and they tend to much more conservative than other Latin American voters.
While each of these factors played a role and possibly a decisive role in particular states, it appears that turnout, as it so often is, was the biggest reason Clinton lost. In the areas with the heaviest Democrat margins, the total vote was down compared to four years ago. Since these tend to be urban areas with large minority populations, it may not be surprising that they turned out in greater numbers for the nation’s first African-American President than for Hillary Clinton.
In any case, I was as shocked as most of the rest of you are today. Without a strong rooting interest either way, I have to say that the night’s festivities were entertaining and, at times, thrilling. If you looked at last night’s haphazard blog postings, I think you might be able to pick up on some of that. I do have to say that I am shocked at just how, for lack of a better word, destroyed, many Clinton supporters are. Yes, it was an awfully nasty campaign and neither candidate distinguished themselves with their words or deeds, perhaps particularly Mr. Trump. But that has always been the nature of politics. Go back and see what terrible things Thomas Jefferson made up about his once and future friend, John Adams, in the election of 1800. No, what’s most different is this social media twitter-verse we live in with 24/7 coverage of every single second of the race. And “race” probably is the right word because it suggests sports and the “horse race” element of the campaign is treated like the Super Bowl, with different TV channels and websites pushing one side or the other. The more they can fire up the audience, the better their ratings. And the more the candidates do the same, the more they can fire up their voters.
Take a cue from the politicians who know the game better than any of us. In the past 24 hours we have heard nothing but nice words and gracious winners and gracious losers and peaceful transition and supporting the will of the people and giving the President-elect a chance. Even in this most “turrible” of times, they are still doing the right thing. Sadly, a lot of you invested a great deal of your heart and soul into this game and it is always hard to lose. Just don’t get discouraged and don’t hate. At a certain point this morning I could sense a genuine tension at work and I knew it was because of the election. But, as the day went on, I began to feel a genuine empathy between people, regardless of how they may have voted. As our current President so eloquently put it, the sun will come up tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar. OK, that last one was just me. Well, I actually stole it from the musical “Annie.”
You know there is a lot more to talk about in the aftermath of this election and I’ll be busy updating you with my words of wisdom (or maybe just dumb) for the next few weeks. I will probably take a few breaks along the way and, eventually, take these postings down to about three a week. Anyway, I do appreciate the nice words from several of you and I hope you will continue to read and enjoy my little “labor of love.” Tell your friends. And, as always, have a great day!