Friday, 11 November 2016
US Election - Trump Wins as Democrat Voters Sit on their Hands
I'm probably not fully over the shock of Donald Trump winning the US presidential election, but some things are becoming clearer about what the hell happened in America on Tuesday.
I've watched every US presidential election since 1976, and this one is the biggest upset I can ever remember seeing. I have watched every previous election on the BBC, when that or ITV were the only options in earlier days, but this year I watched CNN on my laptop. I have to say, the coverage was much better, with in depth local psephological analysis, and a fast moving pace. The only downsides were the intervals, numerous and long, when US viewers were seeing ads.
I also watched a bit of Democracy Now's live coverage, which is a left wing news site, where they talked much more in depth around the issues in the election. I caught Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate putting a brave face on things, recounting local successes in county elections, on what turned out to be a disappointing 1% of the presidential vote. At least the Democrats can't blame the Greens for this defeat.
Although this result is being interpreted widely as a people's rebellion, turn out was only 55.6% according to provisional data, which is low by recent US presidential elections standards, which have been around 60%.
Of those who did vote, CNN exit poll results say that Trump voters were overwhelming white, with only 8% of black voters supporting him. Surprisingly, more Latino voters supported Trump than did Mit Romney, the Republican Party candidate last time around. Even so it was only 29% of them. Racism was clearly at play, with Trump's rhetoric on the back of eight years of Obama's presidency. Brexit linked, in a kind of Anglo-Saxon uprising.
Misogyny was also a factor, with 58% of Trump voters being men, to 42% women. Although this did cut across racial lines, with 53% of white women voting for Trump. Trump's treatment of women will have encouraged some men to vote for him, but it also looks as though women, white ones anyway, were able to overlook the issue. Women can be just as misogynist as men, of course.
Trump voters were mainly older, too.
Trump pulled off some notable victories in the Democrat heartlands of the rust belt, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, which are being put down to his call for trade tariffs on imports, and reviving the coal industry. It does look as though, Hillary Clinton's association with the NAFTA trade deal, and wider support for globalisation, had an impact on her vote in the area.
I think there was also a broader dislike of Clinton. She embodies everything that Trump voters were rebelling against in terms of the political establishment. She has a lot of baggage, and although the email investigations didn't help, she has record and image as being at the centre of corporate/political convenience. This probably cost her the election.
As the headline says though, Trump's vote was similar to Romney's four years ago for the Republicans, but the Democrat vote was down by 5 million on what Obama got in 2012. It looks as though, hate Trump as they did, some Democrat voters were not prepared to vote for Clinton, Susan Sarandon being probably the most famous.
Would Bernie Sanders have fared better? Well, maybe he would have. He could have at least matched, and in many ways exceeded Trump's outsider image, and he is no fan of the NAFTA agreement. The Canary makes this case here.
Trump is pretty unpredictable, but whatever he does do, and his policy ideas are terrible, he will try to maintain his winning hand by doing at least some of things he has promised. This is going to be awful, but quite how awful, we will have to wait until January to find out.