Elektra

Elektra

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Gods Help Us All

My personal election post-mortem is complicated. Trump won because of many and diverse reasons, including....the Electoral College. Hillary Clinton is currently ahead in the popular vote, and as absentee ballots are counted, her lead might increase. Yes, it is likely that more people want her to be president than want Donald Trump.

Here's everything that I believe had at least some influence on the outcome. They are not in any particular order.
  1. Clinton has now won nearly 3 million votes more than DJT. So I take back what I said last month about turnout. Terrible, really terrible, turnout. I have not seen vote totals yet, but in 2008, there were 131 million votes cast and in 2012 about 129 million. This year, it looks like around 124 and a quarter million. So, five million fewer total votes. I haven't seen an analysis yet of where the missing votes are. I have heard that not nearly as many people volunteered for HRC as for Obama, which could certainly be the case. (I will have an update on this when the full vote count is known.)
  2. Voter suppression efforts, starting with the gutting of the Voting Rights Act by SCOTUS and laws passed in many states that made it harder to vote, by requiring ID that could be very difficult to obtain, by closing polling places or restricting early voting, etc. People who'd voted for 40, 50, 60 years had to obtain original birth certificates, which were sometimes unavailable owing to records destruction by fire, etc. This is partially responsible for the missing votes. For example, Trump's margin of 27,000 votes in WI vs. the 300,000 turned away for lack of voter ID.
  3. White people and their racial resentments. If you don't think racism was a big factor in this election, you need to look at what Trump said during the campaign, at the targets of voter suppression, at the treatment of President Obama (birther lies), and at what people are actually saying about why they voted the way they did. Over at Whatever, John Scalzi's blog, a commenter (Layla Lawlor) notes that she has family and friends who voted for Trump, and they are saying things about returning to the way things were, when they were "nice for white people" and they didn't have to let black people and religious minorities into cultural institutions, etc.
  4. Working-class people who've been deeply harmed by the destruction of decent jobs and who feel they've been ignored by Washington and people on the coasts. They are right to be resentful and to want more for themselves and their children. Their interests have been neglected by neo-liberals and trade pacts that moved jobs to Mexico and China, and it's not like they've gotten the help that, as our fellow Americans, they deserved.
  5. Yes, sexism. Misogyny. 
  6. People who voted for Trump thinking he couldn't possibly win. This happened with Brexit as well, where there was a fair amount of voters' remorse the next day / week / month. People your votes should not be cast as protests. Write letters instead.
  7. Third-party votes. Again, I haven't seen numbers on Johnson and Stein, but....Okay, here's something. Short article quoting a FiveThirtyEight analyst on why J & S probably did not swing the election to Trump. You can read the article itself at FiveThirtyEight.com. electoral-vote.com claims today that Stein voters in WI could have swung the state to Clinton, and that appears true; however note that Trump's margin of victory, 27,000 votes, is dwarfed by the 300,000 turned away by bogus voter ID laws - voter suppression.
  8. The Clinton baggage. In 2008, I supported John Edwards and, after he flamed out, Barack Obama. Part of the reason was fearing that Clinton had been chased around and investigated for so long that she was basically radioactive to a large part of the electorate. It turns out that perhaps I was right. I don't know why I thought this year might be different and I certainly don't know why the Democratic field was so small and uncompetitive. Thomas Frank makes the case that she was absolutely the wrong candidate for now.
  9. Should we have nominated Bernie? Would he have done better? We can't know. I do not doubt that he would have been branded a Communist, which he isn't, and given the anti-Semitic communications from Trump and his campaign, and given the power of the alt-right just now, the anti-Semitism directed at Bernie would have been very, very bad. Was she a terrible candidate? No, she ran an excellent campaign and everybody, including Trump and his campaign, though she would win. I do think she might have been the Democratic version of Jeb Bush. I do not have any idea how much of the terrible turnout is attributable to her.
  10. Totally unknown but might have made a difference: the email server and especially FBI director Comey's interventions.
  11. The desire of people for someone likable over someone competent (see also: Gore and Kerry vs. Bush, although argh Bush v. Gore). Clinton is not seen as likable; not that Trump is! Some huge percentage of people who voted for him think he lacks the appropriate temperament for the Presidency, and hoo boy, are they right.
Here's some reading material for the day after a catastrophe. There is no doubt that we are in deep trouble, with a treaty-wrecking, climate-change-denying, isolationist in the presidency, a person who doesn't read, is deeply ignorant, and will appoint people like Scalia to the SC, and have in his cabinet the likes of Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, and Rudy Giuliani. I am deeply grieved and scared today and I'm sure many of you are as well. Read, take care of yourself, and act.
(I am embarrassed at having only three female commentators listed above! What is wrong with me?)

What should we do now? Self-care, to start with. Donating to progressive or radical organizations you care about. (Jezebel has a list of such orgs. There must be others.) Working toward finding and electing Democrats to the Senate in 2018. (I don't know how Feingold and Bayh blew it. McGinty came amazingly close. Looks as though Maggie Hassan might pull out NH, but WTF 19,000 votes for the independent there.) Finding lots of younger people who want to hold elected office - remember, if millennials had been the only Americans who voted, we would be inaugurating our first female president, come January, and she would have won in a landslide.


18 comments:

Jonelle Patrick said...

Excellent reasoning. Your turnout point was supported by The Economist today, in their piece about how the polls got it so wrong. They also mentioned the "shy Trump" voters who claimed to be undecided before the election, when the truth was that they were just ashamed to say that they supported Trump.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thank you, Jonelle.

John Marcher said...

I think you got this right -- especially the part about "self-care" now.
I for one underestimated the Clinton baggage, and am still bewildered by the amount of unhinged animosity toward her.

Molly said...

Ayotte has conceded in NH, so we do get that one at least. If the voters who voted for Johnson/Stein in WI, PA, and FL had voted for HRC instead, she would have won those states. The 3rd party votes would have been decisive in NH, too, though I think they are still counting there. HRC actually won in the two lowest income brackets, according to the exit polls...

Lisa Hirsch said...

The level of hostility is truly irrational, and also unearned. Which is to say, I think most politicians are at least somewhat compromised, especially if they've been around for 30 years. Goodness knows she made a bunch of unforced errors! But I do not think she is any worse than any other DC pol, she is better than many, and she is certainly much, much better than Trump and his lies are.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thanks, Molly. Is there anything reliable about how the Johnson & Stein voters would have voted in their absence?

Liz said...

I totally count as a female pundit. It's OK to use my name!

Here's another: Ijeomo Oluo. http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2016/11/09/24680638/good-morning-america-welcome-to-your-white-supremacy

Lisa Hirsch said...

Okay, I'll use your name, and thank you for the link!

I've changed "pundit" to "commentator."

I'm looking for analysis of the impact of Johnson & Stein. If anyone sees plausible analysis, please comment. :)

kalimac said...

I have seen figures on 3rd party candidates, and here's the scoop: If everyone who actually voted for Stein had voted for Clinton, the only state she would have additionally carried would have been Wisconsin. By itself that wouldn't have been enough.

It would have taken, in addition, a fair number of Johnson voters voting for Clinton to have gotten her Florida, Pennsylvania, and, interestingly, Arizona; and dayenu. But it's not likely: Johnson voters are far more likely to be Republicans who couldn't stand Trump than Democrats who decided against Clinton.

Lisa Hirsch said...

If you've got a link for that, I'd be grateful.

kalimac said...

Here's the state-by-state election results. Add them up yourself if you need verification.

Evangeline Brown said...

"Working-class people who've been deeply harmed by the destruction of decent jobs and who feel they've been ignored by Washington and people on the coasts. " I have no longer have any sympathy for them. They voted for the Rethugliican party, which has ignored every jobs, infrastructure, or retraining bill that the Democrats have tried to pass. 20 million people will lose health care. And their solution is to throw the finger at people with expertise? I spent my entire life voting for people who had actual policies about helaping workers. And they prefer to vote for the same party that has never done a single thing for them? I now care about them to the exact same extent they care about me: which is to say, not at all. They are dead to me.

Chuck said...

Trump's margin of victory in the Electoral College came from the four Rust Belt states that swung his way. It's inexcusable that the Democratic Party lost this by not clearly showing American workers that we're on their side.

Molly said...

It is true that many of the Johnson voters were Republicans who perhaps couldn't stand Trump, but his own running mate (Bill Weld) made a very strong case for Clinton in the final days of the race. Ana Navarro was another Republican who couldn't stand Trump who publically announced that she was voting for Clinton (she had previously said she wouldn't vote for HRC). If you really believe Trump may win, and don't want him to win, then you make the rational choice. But if you don't bother to think about consequences...

Lisa - the Johnson numbers were dropping towards the end, and the HRC numbers rising, so pollsters interpreted that as Johnson voters moving to HRC. But we now know that polls were wrong in various ways. I don't know if they were specifically wrong in that regard, though. The biggest problem seems to have not been finding the "shy Trump" voters.

It's easy to try and pin the blame on the Democratic Party, but I didn't see the media giving them many chances to make their case. I'm also not sure the electorate was susceptible to anything other than vacuous sloganeering this time around.

Philip Amos said...

A very sound analysis, Lisa. I'm a retired historian and was interviewed on radio about the result, saying enough to fill the specified ten minutes. But privately such putative insights gave way to one simple thought, a variation on the "If only they had asked me" comment Stokowski was heard to mutter as left Philharmonic Hall after the first concert and its acoustics were, unhappily, revealed: I keep thinking, "If only they had nominated Bernie". His advisers would have had to get him to pay much more attention to the plight of African Americans but, that done, I think he might well have won. He would have been called a communist or a socialist -- many Americans of a certain stripe can't explain the difference anyway -- but I'm Englishman, an historian, and somewhat elderly, and as is often the case, the American 'socialist' looks an awful lot like a 'Red Tory' to me, though that strain has disappeared over the past four decades. And then they also said the same of Obama, who seemed to me patently a centrist during his first presidential campaign, so no matter. Once nominated, I think Bernie would have had the party machine with him, the financial sector and business against him, but far more of the white blue-collar population with him than Hillary could hope for. One more thing: Had Trump lost or won, I believe the result would have some form of chaos, given his appalling prepping of his more fanatical followers re the election being rigged, which had them stocking guns and talking of civil war, race war, and "whatever it takes" to stop Hillary making appointments to the Supreme Court. I think this was from the start a lose-lose situation for the vulnerable, the political system, and the liberally-minded.

John McMurray said...

I fear that for once we in Britain showed you the way... Michael Gove notoriously said that the British people had "had enough of experts", Unfortunately too many people in your country seem, as happened here, to believe a politician whose whole career is that of a phoney.

What is truly appalling is the low turn-out. In the UK we have not had a turn-out so low in a general elections since at least 1885. Even in the chaotic circumstances of 1918 the turn-out was higher...

Lisa Hirsch said...

Yes - millions of voters fewer than in 2008 and 2012, all of them Democratic. Terrible GOTV? Lack of enthusiasm for HRC? Voter suppression? Some combination of those factors?

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thanks, Philip, and apologies for the late publication of your comment - Blogger doesn't always send an email notification. It is possible Bernie would have done better, and yes, to Americans, "socialism" is, well, anything that helps other people and is done by the government.