The Trump Election: A Postmortem of Nov. 8

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

Although it’s been only just over a week since the election, I think that there’s been enough time to gather some useful information about what happened. Even now, some narratives about the election are getting spun which paint things in different lights without full facts to support them. This neglects the bigger picture of what happened and what’s going on. Yes, Mr. Trump will be the 45th U.S. President, but he will have done it without the benefit of having more votes than Ms. Clinton. That in itself highlights some concerns that I also think are being neglected.

First off, the useful information.
I found this article at Pew Research which went into the different demographics of people who voted for which candidate. Some of the results were surprising (like most older white women voted for Mr. Trump than Ms. Clinton). Other results weren’t shocking (like how younger women voted for Ms. Clinton enough to swing the overall support by gender to Ms. Clinton overall). Overall, it seemed that Ms. Clinton received slightly less support than Mr. Obama did in 2012, and Mr. Trump did slightly better with white people.

The real interesting thing is that voter turnout fell in states Clinton won. For those who don’t click the link, the article also highlights how Mr. Trump won states with higher turnout, but that turnout as a whole was lower than in 2012 and in 2008 (as a percentage of population that is eligible to vote). In other words, Mr. Trump needed more people turning out for him and fewer people turning out for Ms. Clinton to win those states.

Once again, this happened while Ms. Clinton has more votes than Mr. Trump. Generally speaking, support among diverse groups in this country still remained relatively close to where they were in 2012 and 2008 (with a few points’ difference, which is within low turnout explaining the shift). Granted, I am speculating as to what people who historically voted for Mr. Obama would have done had they shown up at the polls, but the information I’m presenting doesn’t exactly contradict that speculation.

Republicans should not be happy about this election.
While their candidate won, it could be fairly said that he won because Ms. Clinton’s supporters did not show up in battleground states. Moreover, the party is not making significant inroads into building diverse support for its platform. Instead, it got the white vote and relied on other votes to stay home. As this country increases in its diversity, Trump’s positions will be untenable for the party.

Moreover, this is not a mandate, as some are claiming. That word always gets used by the winning side in a presidential election, and it almost always follows votes that are relatively close to statistical norms. This is going to be critical to remember when the GOP starts implementing new policies. They need to be reminded that they are the tail that’s wagging the dog.

If anything, this election highlights a drastic concern in our election system.
Ideally, the House of Representatives and to a lesser extent the Senate ought to represent the popular vote among the people. That’s why Representatives must get elected every two years, and Senators have staggered elections. The people are supposed to control this branch of government with their votes, but even with majorities in blue states, these get diminished by red states.

What this means is that because blue communities(Democrats) and red communities(Republicans) have state lines between them, red communities are able to get a higher proportion of representation. So you’ll get maps that look like a majority of the country votes Republican, but those states actually represent much smaller populations. While those red states might want to appear monolithic in their support for one party, the actual popular vote results (CNN has a good one here) represent states that have at least more than a nominal support for blue candidates.

I mention all of this to point out that Republicans benefit from the concentration of Democratic voters in specific areas. Move those voters to a different state, like Californians moving to Colorado, and you’ll turn red states blue. It doesn’t have to be that many, either. Four hundred thousand voters moving from California to Alabama would turn the state into a Democratic one.

Another concern is that people win states without an actual majority of the votes.
If you check out the graphic from CNN, you’ll find out that in many states, the winner doesn’t even have to reach 50% of the votes cast to get all the state’s electoral votes. In a practical way, this means that a candidate doesn’t have to bother with getting more votes than everyone else in the state. All they need to do is get the most votes out of whatever is cast. Granted, these results often get exceptionally close to 50%, but they get thought of as that state approving of one candidate. That’s actually a misrepresentation.

The bottom line.
It looks like demographic voting trends still favor the Democrats. Low turnout still produced more popular votes for Ms. Clinton than Mr. Trump. If the voting trends coincide with population changes, Democrats would be able to win Presidential elections even with low turnout and high GOP turnout.

However, if the votes still remain concentrated in a few states, there still will be GOP control of Congress despite popular support for Democratic Party candidates. I think it creates an inflated sense of security in policies which ignore diverse interests. They don’t have to pay attention to these problems when their supporters can maintain insular communities.

I’ll talk about the consequences of this in a later post.

25 thoughts on “The Trump Election: A Postmortem of Nov. 8

  1. Reblogged this on Scotties Toy Box and commented:
    I have read a lot of post election analysis. However few point out the important things this post does. Most center on what groups voted for what reasons. However this shows the democratic limitations of the electoral college vrs the popular vote. It also points out the effect of gerrymandering. I hope in the future both things can be looked at and solutions implemented. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    • Scottie in the US the real gerrymandering happens in drawing up the Congressional boundaries. The Economist wrote an excellent article on this some years back noting that the Republicans had been very successful in influencing the drawing of Congressional district boundaries such that they had more safe seats than the Democrats. But with the Democrat safe seats many are very heavily weighted Democrat.

      So many Republican tried to set up seats where they would have say 55% of the vote without much trouble and then tried to make the safe Democrat seats having a 60% plus margin.

      In my country of Australia such blatant tampering with electoral boundaries would never be allowed, instead the boundaries are set by and independent statutory authority free from political interference.

      A good way to make America more democratic would also be to introduce mandatory voting. We have this in Australia and it reduces the influence of the zealots on the extremes and politicians need to take seriously the apathetic masses in the middle.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are so correct about the gerrymandering. I would love to have the entire congressional map redrawn as you suggest with an independant body. It should be illegal to use party registration in any way. I think one thing is we need to make voting a non work day. See here everyone has to take off work to vote. That is how we started voting early was we always worked and couldn’t get off on election day. Now with states restricting early voting it is getting hard to vote. Thanks for the comment. BE well. Hugs


      • In Oregon, we have vote by mail. Not sure that it’s the best way, but there are definite advantages. For one, you have the time to study ballot measures on your own time. And another, you don’t have to “take off work” to go to a polling place. You can either use the U.S. Postal Service or drop off your ballot at various drop-off points. So, from my perspective, what’s not to like?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Scottie there seems little doubt that some states in the US seem to go out of their way to make voting difficult. I assume this is intended to discourage certain groups of voters. Once again I suggest the Australian system is way better:
        – compulsory voting;
        – pre-poll, postal and absentee voting allowed;
        – electoral boundaries set by independant body;
        – people don’t register as supporters of a particular party;
        – rules apply consistently throughout the country;
        – voting is on a Saturday;
        – the voting system is run by an independent Federal statutory body, there is no capacity for local political officials to get involved;
        – no ID required when you turn up to vote, you just say your name and address.


  2. I live in the swing state of North Carolina and I’ve noticed a lot of hostility from blue states that we voted Trump. That’s not fair because Trump only won by 200,000 votes across the whole state! We have freakin 10 million people who live here! Even in my own county Clinton lost by only 4,000 votes. That’s only 2% of all registered voters. Our county even has more registered Democrats than Republicans so you can’t very much call either my county nor state “red.” It really was a failure on behalf of the democratic party to get people to the voting booths.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It’s a rather sad state of affairs that the democratic party needed to encourage voters in NC to go to the voting booths, especially knowing who the opposition was, and what was at stake. Clinton did campaign in NC 10 times, all the way up to November 3. Since Sept. 6, the state has only had one week when neither candidate visited. Trump visited 12 times.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, Clinton stayed with the major metro areas in NC. Trump did that AND visited a few smaller cities, which was smart. One of them being in my city, where he said that Second Amendment people could do something about it if Hillary gets her pick of a Supreme Court Justice. The rally was literally a 1/2 mile from my house but I didn’t attend because of the previous violence at Trump rallies.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Except for the liberal evangelicals who scoff at the idea of he having Christian values and who find him detestable. I know plenty of evangelicals on the West Coast that can’t fathom how any “True Christian” could vote for him. I have to say, I agree with them and am having trouble wrapping my mind around it.

        Liked by 1 person

    • That hostility is something I’ve been wanting to address for some time as well, because it takes different forms with regards to who is being blamed. Personally, I think that blaming people for a loss is entirely poor sport, especially since it doesn’t encourage people to do what they’re being asked to do.

      I also should probably have clarified further what I meant by red communities. I’m actually referring to the very staunchly Republican areas of the country that dominate states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. These places need blue voters to live in them in order to take pressure off swing states (in the event of low turnout). They also need it to more equitably represent the actual wishes of the electorate.

      Liked by 1 person

      • A disappointing aspect of the election aftermath for me has been the scapegoating of Trump voters as racist, sexist and xenophobic. In my view the folk who do this scapegoating are being entirely counterproductive and damaging their cause.


    • I still recognize that the stuff I’m talking about is a small consolation, especially to people who are being subjected to harassment ever since Trump’s candidacy got off the ground. But I think it’s important to remind people that sometimes elections aren’t defeats despite their candidate not winning. The increase in racist rhetoric, sexist rhetoric, and other discrimination still appears to be an aberration and not a new norm.

      Additionally, I’m still trying to sort out the evangelical support for Trump. They came out of the immorality closet, and I’m looking for ways to call them out on it. I mean, they picked a guy who probably lied about being religious. That can’t stand.

      Liked by 1 person

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