If you regularly read my blog you will have noticed that I wrote very little about the American election. I just wasn’t all that interested.
But now that it’s over I find the fallout remarkably fascinating. One of the first reflections (based on exit polls) is the fact that the anti-Trump crowd really just doesn’t get it.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am not a Trump apologist. I don’t know much about him, but he certainly doesn’t leave me with a positive impression.
But let’s take the Trump opponents at their word (“…he’s racist, he’s sexist, he’s phobic, he’s misogynistic”). Let’s assume Trump is really that awful. That he is really so horrible as a person, and so unqualified as a political candidate, that a vote for Trump is a vote for all these moral evils. Let’s agree that Trump represents all that is incompetent and generally distasteful about the world.
Clinton lost TO HIM.
In fact, the exit polls tell an interesting story. 53% of people who voted for Clinton favoured her, and only 42% of people who voted for Trump favoured him. Which tells us that there were more people plugging their nose and voting Trump than there were people who were plugging their nose and voting for Clinton.
It gets more interesting. Only 39% of people who voted for Clinton disliked the other candidates (e.g. Trump), whereas a whopping 51% of people who voted for Trump disliked the other candidates (e.g. Clinton). In short, Trump did not win because people liked him (he got a lower score on that front), Trump won because people disliked Clinton.
This election was not won by Trump, it was lost by Clinton.
And it was lost by Clinton to Trump, of all people. What does that tell you about Clinton? As the anti-Trump crowd plays up how despicable, horrible and inept Trump is, that only makes Clinton look all the worse because she lost to him. One is left with the impression that it might have been a closer race if Clinton were running against a drunken monkey with a broken arm. Really, is that the impression they want to leave us with?
One response is to point the finger at the American voter. They are racist, sexist, ignorant and generally hateful. Clinton was the superior candidate, but too many Americans are too stupid and despicable to see that.
Let’s test that hypothesis…
The exit polls tell us an interesting story on these issues as well. In 2008 Obama secured 56% of the female vote. In 2012 that dropped to 55%; a negligible change, to be sure, but a loss nonetheless. Then along comes Hillary Clinton in 2016 – the first female presidential candidate in history. Not only is she a female, but her policies and message almost seemed to be pulled straight from the feminist playbook. Her campaign seemed to be dripping feminist ideology.
With all of this feminist clout she manages to secure a whopping 54% of the female vote. Down from 55% in 2012 and down from 56% in 2008.
What? Clinton actually lost some share of the female vote! Not much, of course, but she certainly did not enjoy the groundswell of feminist support one might have assumed was her destiny to enjoy based on the glass ceiling she was about to shatter; a glass ceiling that women everywhere must desperately want shattered right?
Whatever else that result means, it must at least mean that the feminist and identity politics that seem so popular in some circles apparently don’t carry so much sway in the rest of the world. As if, perhaps, people (even women) are not primarily concerned with genitalia?
What about Trump? He also lost some of the female vote; dropping the Republican share from 44% down to 42%. Considering both candidates lost voter share it seems obvious that more people voted for independents this time around. Even Trump’s loss of voter share is somewhat astonishing in that he lost so little; considering the revelations that surfaced during the election. He certainly doesn’t present himself as somebody with a high respect for women – except perhaps as sex objects – yet women still cast their votes for him at only slightly lower levels then they had previously.
In brief, this election could be seen as a judgment against feminism, by females. The first female candidate, embracing an explicitly “feminist” policy, running against a sexist monster the likes of which strikes fear in the heart of every true blood feminist; yet the female vote is virtually indistinguishable from previous elections. While feminists may have seen this as the penultimate clash between everything they hold sacred and everything that is morally repugnant in their opponents, women in the real world just didn’t see things the same way that the feminists did.
Ironically, feminists don’t understand women.
What about race? Trump was also supposed to be the quintessential racist pig, so the minorities must have abandoned the Republican ship, en masse, right? Wrong. Here’s the voter share that the Republican party enjoyed in the past two elections:
Blacks – 2012: 6%, 2016: 8% (gain of two points)
Hispanic/Latino – 2012: 27%, 2016: 29% (gain of two points)
Asian – 2012: 26%, 2016: 29% (gain of three points)
Other – 2012: 38%, 2016: 37% (loss of one point)
In every minority category except “other” Trump increased the vote share for Republicans! Yes, the Republicans still hold less than half of the voter share for minorities, but the point is they made gains, not losses, with a “racist pig” for a candidate.
What about the election results for white people? After all, Trump was supposedly the next incarnation of the KKK, so white people must have flocked to him, right? In 2012, 59% of white voters voted Republican, and in 2016 that number dropped to 58%. It’s a very small change, granted, but the fact remains that Trump actually lost some share of the white vote!
Does this sound like the results that a white supremacist, racist pig would get; a higher share of the minority vote and a lower share of the white vote than his predecessors? Put simply, those who claim to passionately defend minorities don’t actually understand them.
As if to make this point, here’s a video I happened across this week…
[You might notice in the video how quickly white people would pull out the “racist” card, and how reluctant black people were to do the same, even when prompted. It’s as if they wanted to extend the benefit of the doubt to others; something the white “educated” class seemed reluctant to do.]
Simplistic explanations of sexism and racism simply don’t add up when the first female – and explicitly feminist – presidential candidate in history lost voter share among women, and the first “openly racist” (so it is claimed) presidential candidate in history gained voter share among minorities and lost voter share among whites.
So what’s my point in bringing all of this up?
Anybody who offers these simplistic sound byte explanations is almost certainly wrong. Why Trump won remains a mystery as far as I’m concerned (I am bouncing some ideas around in my head, but nothing approaching a coherent theory) and anybody who offers an explanation better make sure their explanation aligns with the evidence. So far the running theme among the “experts” is dramatically at odds with the exit polls.
More blog posts coming soon! So much to think about.