POLITICS: Making America Sane Again — Election 2016 Retrospective
Dispelling the myth that the election of Trump was America speaking
by Camilo Arenivar
This is my first politics post since Election Day 2016. That is not accidental. I needed a break. A very long one. It doesn’t mean I have not been paying attention. I am almost ready to start looking forward and posting about my political views again as well as analysis. At the very end of my last politics post I said I was done with Election analysis until 2020.
That was a lie. I need to close the circle on this.
I also feel the need to clarify the misconception that Donald Trump and the people who follow him are in the majority and that their politics was what America wanted that November day in 2016. It was not a collective decision based on a majority. I feel the specifics of his fluke win have been ignored and in doing that, we position ourselves to a sense of hopelessness that this is just “how America thinks now”.
Hillary Clinton won the popular vote handily, but due to the fact popular vote doesn’t elect Presidents, electoral votes do, Donald Trump won the Presidency because he won by 34 electoral college votes. Narrow losses by Clinton in a few key states is the only reason she is not President and he is. Let’s examine FOUR of those states that made all the difference and I will tell you what I think happened. And I won’t even try to sell you a book.
Let’s look at numbers:
53.24% of the people who voted in 2016, voted for someone other than Donald Trump. He received 46.09% of the vote. That is NOT an agenda.
Most of the people in the United States that voted in the 2016 election did not want Donald Trump as President. That doesn’t mean they all wanted Clinton, but it DOES mean he did not receive the support of the Country he now leads.
On to the states that made the difference:
FLORIDA (29 electoral college votes)
Trump 4,605,515 (49.1%)
Clinton 4,485,745 (47.8%)
119,700 votes separated Trump from Clinton
206,007 people voted for Gary Johnson
64,019 voted for Jill Stein
25,464 voted for others
51% of Florida did NOT vote for Donald Trump
He won anyway due to winning the state’s 29 electoral college votes by beating her by 119,700 votes out of 9,386,750 votes cast.
She could have won the election and lost Florida, but she also very narrowly lost other states she would have needed to win.
— — — — — — —
Michigan (16 electoral college votes)
Trump 2,279,805 (47.6%)
Clinton 2,268,193 (47.3%)
11,612 votes separated Trump from Clinton
173,057 people voted for Gary Johnson
50,700 people voted for Jill Stein
19,162 people voted for someone else
52.4% of Michigan did NOT vote for Donald Trump
He won anyway due to winning the state’s 16 electoral college votes by beating her by 11,612 votes out of 4,802,529 votes cast. If just less than 10% of the people who voted for Gary Johnson or 25% of the people who voted for Jill Stein had cast their vote for Clinton instead, she could have won the state. But they could not.
— — — — — — — — —
Pennsylvania (20 electoral college votes)
Trump 2,912,941 (48.8%)
Clinton 2,844,705 (47.6%)
68,236 votes separated Trump from Clinton
142,653 people voted for Gary Johnson
48,912 people voted for Jill Stein
20,896 people voted for someone else
51.2% of Pennsylvania did NOT vote for Donald Trump
He won anyway due to winning the state’s 20 electoral college votes by beating her by 68,236 votes out of 6,038,343 votes cast.
— — — — — — — — -
Wisconsin (10 electoral college votes)
Trump 1,409,467 (47.9%)
Clinton 1,382,210 (46.9%)
27,257 votes separated Trump from Hillary
106,442 people voted for Gary Johnson
30,980 people voted for Jill Stein
15,521 people voted for someone else
52.2% of Wisconsin did NOT vote for Donald Trump
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -
So why focus on these four? Well, for one, all four of them went for Obama in both 2008 and 2012. In fact, Pennsylvania and Michigan had not gone for a Republican Presidential Candidate since 1988. Wisconsin had not since 1984!
So what happened?
According to me, it was a perfect storm of the following:
1. You had a rough Primary election largely fought in these battleground states where Bernie Sanders challenged the Clinton stance on trade, and how much she related to the plight of those in his base. He was slow to throw his support to her, and then Donald Trump stepped in basically taking many of the plays from the Sanders playbook in the Rust Belt. And it worked — Trump got 10% of Sanders supporters. Those he did not get, voted for others or did not vote at all in significant numbers.
This wound was never healed by the Clinton Campaign, despite calls from those in the Sanders camp in some of these very states.
2. Social Media Society Influenced by Fake news/ad plants by Russian interests
More so now than ever, we have an electorate that is glued to their social media feeds. And the masses fail to challenge that which comes across their news feeds. This too influenced public sentiment and further created the divide. It’s not like this was a landslide of support for Trump. I just published the numbers — it did not take much to sway just enough people to vote against what some thought the Democrats wanted based on fake ads. This does not count for all of it, but combine this with number one and you will see what I man.
3. No, Hillary was not likable enough.
I recently saw her on Jimmy Fallon and she was warm, direct, funny, and even border-line charismatic. She did not seem to censor herself much. This Hillary Clinton WAS very likable. The Hillary Clinton who campaigned for President did not come across this way. I am sorry, but likability counts. And whether it was the result of misogyny, the workings of a vast right-wing conspiracy or the damage the Bernie Bros did to perpetuate negative images of her (or all of it), her favorability was lacking. In the end, as the numbers show, people chose someone else, not even Trump a lot of the time, but someone else or they chose not to vote at all as they were terribly unhappy with both choices.
Trump’s America? Not really!
So as I have shown with the numbers, this is not a Country that voted for Donald Trump. This is an election where very narrow victories in a few states tipped the electoral college vote math in his favor. Sure, a little over 46% of the country voted for him, but 53% of the others who voted in the election did NOT vote for him. And that stands for something.
And one year into his Presidency, less than 40% of the population approves of the job he is doing. He is at 37% today. At no point in his Presidency has he ever hit an approval rating above that 46% that initially voted for him.
My message is this — do NOT let that less than 40% of the country who supports him make you think this is how the Country thinks now. It is NOT. He is the most unpopular President in the history of America. Just because he won in 2016 does not mean he has to win in 2020. Now you know how close it really was. There are lessons that have been learned, let’s hope those lessons stick.