(Note: This is part of a larger report on Election 2016).
Election 2016 was a watershed in which both political Parties began their evolution toward a new framework with the Republicans facing a more uncertain future. The Democratic Party has moved firmly into straight Democratic Socialism and ended whatever moderation that may have existed.
The GOP is a party trying to navigate through National Populism which is showing itself to be a big government party with Right wing nationalism or a conservative reformist/populist movement that still believes in restricting federal government power. Conservative populists like National Populists, desire to win the Working/Blue Collar end of the Middle Class and make Republicans the party of Main Street but believe in a conservative reformist path. The jury is still out about which way the Republicans go while the Democrats have crossed their own Rubicon with their brand of socialism/crony capitalism for their donors.
Election 2016 did not represent any significant realignment. In fact, it may have been the last ride of the old Reagan Coalition as the Trump Republicans (formerly Reagan Democrats) came back to the Republican fold. While many economic conservatives and foreign policy hawks returned home during the last months of the election. Much of this was due to less support or trust of Trump but a fear of Hillary Clinton.
The Democrats depended on their new emerging majority among young voters and minorities to prevail in 2016 while writing off blue collar voters. Democrats’ election strategy was to get enough White voters, including among suburban Republican women while maximizing their minorities’ voter turnout. The goal was to increase the number of minorities among the general population.
The Democrats were successful in their goal of gaining support of college-educated Republicans women. Thirty percent of the voting population were minorities which is a 2 percent increase over 2012. This lead to Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote. What the Democrats missed was Trump’s ability to add blue collar and rural whites to his coalition. And, just as important, he gained just enough minorities to win key battleground states.
Another point Democrats missed in their game plan is that their mix of minorities proved the wrong mix. While Hispanics and Asians increased their vote total, a significant number of blacks not only stayed home but enough voted for Trump to provide margins. Somewhere between 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 blacks stayed home or voted for Donald Trump. Hillary finished at least million votes behind Obama in 2012. Part of the Obama coalition stayed home. Nor, can we ignore some 1,300,000 leftists voted for Jill Stein. (It should be noted Hillary’s margin came only from California. She ran 3 plus million votes ahead of Trump there. Take out California and Hillary loses the popular vote as well).
Trump ran ahead of Romney in the popular vote. While this can’t be overlooked, two Republicans voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson for every one who vote Democratic. When you combine the number of Republicans with votes for Evan McCullough, we may be talking about a minimum of 1,400,000 missing Republicans. Additionally, many of these voters were Never Trumpers. They simply would not vote for Hillary Clinton and couldn’t bear to vote for Trump either.
In looking at exit polls, we see a shift of various groups compared to 2012. Trump cleaned up among Whites with no college degree with a plus 39 margin. This is the highest since 1980. Trump won White College educated by only a margin of 4%. So Trump gained 14 points among non-college educated Whites but ran some 10% behind Romney among college educated Republicans. (White College educated women supported Hillary Clinton). Overall, Trump had 58% of the White voters compared to 59% for Romney.
But, Trump ran ahead among minorities. In key battleground states, he nearly doubled black votes from 2012. Additionally, black voter turnout dropped 1% compared to 2012. Between the number of Blacks who voted for Hillary Clinton and those voters who stayed home, this could have cost Hillary nearly 2 million votes, Most of these voters live in key battleground states.
The strength of the Republicans down ballot was shown additionally in Election 2016,. In key battleground states, most Republican Senatorial candidates ran ahead of Trump. It could be argued that Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, North Carolina’s Richard Burr, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, Florida’s Marco Rubio, Iowa’s Charles Grassley and Ohio’s Rob Portman carried Trump. Even losing candidates Kelly Ayotte and Darryl Glenn ran ahead of Trump. (The exception to this was Joe Heck in Nevada and Missouri’s Roy Blunt). In the key battleground states Trump won, Republican Senate candidates won.
Our goal in a larger report is to review what worked and try to explain why Trump won and how to move forward to 2018 and 2020. Trump dragged the Reagan coalition for one more victory lap. But he also has the potential to put a new coalition together. The Democrats are now the Socialist Party of the country. And, over the next four years; it will move ever so left until that time they suffer a humiliating election defeat. This election, due to the popular vote, reinforced, in their minds, that this election was a fluke. They believe their emerging coalition of public sector unions, minorities, single women and college educated will win. The setback of Election 2016 is a fluke. It can be reversed. Democrats will spend the next four years talking about the missing four million votes.
Many issues are going the GOP way. Fifty percent of Americans told exit polls that government is doing too many things best left to the private sector and businesses. Whereas only 45% stated that government needs to do more. In 2012, 51% of Americans felt government was doing too much and 43% wanted government to do more. Our own data supports this view, Unlike 2012, on big issues Republicans are favored, Americans actually voted for the candidate who supported smaller government.