Clinton-Trump Probably Won’t Be The Next ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’
by Harry Enten, October 16, 2016 (Getty Images)
When the 2016 election year began, the Democrats were singing “Happy days are here again.” The old FDR song seemed very appropriate for the coming year. The Democrats expected to win the presidential election. The Democrats expected a “third term” for both the incumbent and the previous Democratic president. The Democrats expected to win back the Senate. The Democrats expected to make significant gains in the House. As we all know, those dreams were not fulfilled and the vision of a robust return to power were dashed by the great disrupter. Actually there is more to the story than one individual, something the Democrats need to keep in mind if they are serious about reversing the results the next time around.
Starting at the top, the Democrats didn’t do as well as they had in the 2012 presidential elections. Last time, the Democratic candidate won just over 51% of the popular vote. This time around the result was just over 48%, a drop of approximately 3%. That decrease is a significant number, roughly triple the 1% drop in the Republican percentage from just over 47% to just over 46%. In part both declines may be attributed to the disgust by voters over the two main choices. Still the large decline in the Democratic vote should give pause to those who focus on the plurality vote total and ignore the percentage trend.
One obvious area of concern is the women’s vote. As we enter the period of suffrage centennials, the white women vote did not go as hoped for by the Democrats. Despite all the egregious comments and actions by the Republican candidate who loves women only when he grabs them and they meet his age, race, and physical standards, white women voted 53% for him. That was not the expected result in the presidential election with the first female candidate of a major party.
In this regard, it is time for the Democrats to put Madeline Albright out to pasture. Her admonition about there being a special place in hell for women who don’t help women is part of what was fundamentally wrong with the Democratic candidate. It is a racist comment that discounts black women who supported Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary; her implication is that “women” means “white women” the way “actor” means “white person.” It is a sexist comment that denies women the right to choose be it a Mitt Romney, Bernie Sanders, or Donald Trump without being a traitor to their gender. That attitude of moral superiority and zealousness for the cause did not go over well with white women in the Day 1 march who did not share agreement on every item on the approved list of “women’s issues.” At some point, the Democrats might want to consider why they are alienating white women even with a world class pig in White House.
Besides touting the popular vote win, Democrats also like to point out the narrowness of the electoral win. While it certainly is true that the winner did not win in a landslide except in Trumpietown, his narrow victory still raises warning signs for the Democrats. Consider state of Wisconsin. Trump’s margin of victory was under 1% numbering in the thousands of votes, a seemingly small amount. By contrast, Obama won the state by close to 7% and over 200,000 votes. Those numbers are too big a shift to attribute to Russian intervention or the FBI. Wake up and smell the coffee.
One wonders why the state never appeared on the Democratic radar. One wonders why the Democratic candidate never appeared in a state that shifted over 7% in the vote in one election cycle. I recall reading just before the election a smug condescending out-of-touch-with-the-real-world blogger who confidently predicted a Democratic victory in 2016 comparable to the one in 2012 (332 votes). Maybe it would be even better with over 350 electoral college votes if some of the Republican states flipped Democratic. I suspect this attitude may have been too prevalent among the Democratic elitists for them to see what was happening in the real world.
Wisconsin should not have been that big a surprise. The state has a Republican governor, Scott Walker. After he was first elected he won a hard-fought recall election. In 2014, Walker won for a third time with a 6.7% margin. There are Republican majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. Ron Johnson, the Republican incumbent candidate for Senate in 2016 won by about 3% and 100,000 votes. His seat was one the Democrats were counting on to win. The losing Democratic presidential and senate candidates won approximately the same number of votes. The Republican victory margin differs from 3% to under 1% in the two races because a third party candidate in the presidential race siphoned off votes that went for the Republican senate candidate.
These numbers mean that if the Republicans had nominated an adult for president instead of the loser of the Wisconsin Republican presidential primary, the margin of victory would have been closer to the 3% margin of victory in the Senate race. In other words, while the Democrats salivated over the prospect of Arizona flipping as New Mexico, Colorado, and Virginia have, they lost track of what was happening in the blue wall, their “own backyard.”
In approximately 80% of the states, Democrats did worse in 2016 than in 2012. This reduction occurred even when they won a state both times. This is Huge! Ohio was not even a battleground. The state the Democrats won by 2% in 2012, they lost by over 8.5% this time around. That’s no due to the Russians either. The Ohio senate race which was supposed to be hard-fought with a big-name Democratic candidate turned into a 21% drubbing. Hundreds of counties nationwide which had voted Democratic in 2012 voted Republican in 2016. Maps showing the trends from the last election to this one show Republican gains almost everywhere.
What is the explanation for these results? One answer by the losing Democratic candidate was that the voters for her opponent were deplorables. Well, maybe not all of them, just 47%. No data to support that conclusion were provided. As it turns out, the deplorables were just as capable of adopting the slur from the enemy as nasty women have been on the reverse side. As with Albright’s admonition and the smug take-it-for granted attitude of elitist bloggers, deplorables is a concept best relegated to dustbin if Democrats are serious about reversing the trends which have occurred following the 2008 elections.
Then, of course, there is the demographic wave of the future. Even if the Democrats do nothing, in time the demographic changes sweeping the country guarantee Democratic victories despite the temporary setbacks. For years now the Democrats have been waiting for Godot, for the magic moment when the new America of immigrants of color would sweep the country and turn the electoral map Democrat.
This demographic deluge has produced results in California and perhaps Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. So far the eagerly anticipated browning of America has not occurred. The vote totals in the last election by Latin American immigrants and their offspring were comparable to those in 2008 and 2012, in the 27-28% range. George Bush’s 40% vote represents a high point for Republicans but one that would do damaging results to Democratic aspirations if repeated.
What have the Democrats accomplished with their over-the-top rhetoric incessantly repeated that a demographic deluge is coming, that the old America is dying and that a new progressive one is being born? A great politician once said for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So far the biggest impact of the rhetoric by the self-righteous zealots prophesizing the end is near has been to scare white people that the fate of their country is at risk due to alien invaders. How has that worked out for the Democrats?
It gets worse for the Democrats. What happens to the Democratic vision of identity politics if immigrants from Latin America (and Asia) intermarry with immigrants from Europe? What happens to the Democratic vision of identity politics if the Republicans catch on that Latin Americans Pope Francis, Fidel Castro, Marco Rubio, and Giselle Bündchen are not people of color? What happens to the Democratic vision of identity politics if Republicans catch on that immigrants from Latin America like immigrants from Europe know not only their continent of origin but their country, village, town, city, and ethnicity too? What happens to the Democratic vision of identity politics if Republicans catch on that immigrants from Latin American like immigrants from Europe want to live the American Dream? What happens to the Democratic vision of identity politics if Republicans catch on that immigrants from Latin America like immigrants from Europe are proud to be Americans and to be part of We the People? Contrary to the Democratic wishes, Latin American immigrants are not middle-passage blacks where Democratic unanimity can be taken for granted. Should the Democrats take for granted that the party of malice will remain stupid forever? Alternative facts aren’t limited to just one party.
If the Democrats don’t like the election results they have no one to blame but themselves. Joe Biden for President and Elizabeth Warren for Vice President and none of this would be happening.