On November 8, 2016, Democrats hoped to maintain control of the White House and take control of the Senate.
Just the opposite occurred. Overnight, Donald J. Trump won the presidency as the Clinton campaign watched Trump win key states like Florida and Ohio early in the night, and then North Carolina.
Now standing with 290 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232, Trump will be the next President of the United States.
Despite winning the popular vote 47.8% to Trump’s 47.3%, Clinton lost in the aforementioned swing states and in Iowa and Pennsylvania, which in total had 26 electoral votes up for grabs. Many pollsters and pundits expected Clinton to take Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina — some even predicted a blue victory in states like Iowa, Utah, and Arizona.
Trump’s victory lies in his success to flip battleground states and turn historically Democratic states like Wisconsin and maybe Michigan, which shows him up by just 11,837 votes with 96% in. Even if he loses Michigan in the coming days, Trump still won by a sizable lead in the Electoral College.
What is more surprising to pollsters now is how Trump was able to dominate the Midwest and the Rust Belt, by winning Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and maybe even Michigan. Many attribute it to the lack of voter turnout among minorities including African-Americans and Latinos, which both came out in large numbers for President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.
Overall, this election had the lowest voter turnout in 20 years, which says more to American discontent and partially explains Clinton’s loss. Had there had been more of a turnout, in key states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida that Obama took in 2008 and 2012, pollsters predict Clinton would have won.
Although nearly half of the country is shocked by Trump’s victory, the explanation can be seen over the past four years, culminating especially in this election. The need for stronger immigration policies, fear of terrorism home and abroad, and the growing rural-urban divide all were important factors in giving Trump his victory.
Exit polls show that Trump lost voters on the issues of foreign policy and the economy, where Clinton has clear experience working as a Senator and Secretary of State, but won by a huge margin on the issues of immigration and terrorism. Many seemed to resonate with the key ideas of his message by Making America Safe Again and Making America Work Again.
In fact, a breakdown of the country by counties shows clear wins for Trump in rural areas, some with margins in excess of 20% for Trump, and while Clinton had clear wins in cities.
Moreover, the concept of blue and red states dissipates when looking at the results by county. In 1964, when Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson took down Republican Barry Goldwater in a landslide win, most of the country was blue by county except Alabama and Mississippi; even states like Texas were covered in blue.
In the elections since 2000 however, the rural-urban split can be clearly seen as each year the amount of blue shrinks overall on the map, but stays concentrated in cities. Another reason for this is typically rural areas or states display a smaller percentage of college-educated voters, which, in turn, results in less Democratic votes.
In West Virginia, only 28.2% of voters have a college degree and Trump won 69% over 27% for Clinton. In Massachusetts, where more than half of voters have college degrees, Clinton won 61% to 33%. This pattern is repeated across states. Exit polls nationwide showed that Clinton won college graduates and postgraduates while losing high school educated or some college educated voters. Clinton’s largest victories occurred in Manhattan and Washington D.C., where she won around 90% of the vote, further illustrating urban support for her.
The reason for this is due to the many people that have felt forgotten these past eight years under the Democratic President, Barack Obama. For example, Clinton was walloped in West Virginia, but in 2008, during the primaries, she won 67% of the votes over now-President Barack Obama. Because Clinton had absorbed a number of Obama’s policies, it detached her from states in the Rustbelt, Midwest, and central states of the country.
In fact, exit polls showed that voters that made their mind up in the last few days, week, or in the past month all voted for Trump while people that made their minds up in the past voted for Clinton. Whether it was an anti-Clinton vote, a protest vote, or the lack of trust with Clinton, Trump was also able to gain support at the last minute, which explains the discrepancies with polling results.
Trump’s victory has also marked a shift in the lives of immigrants, people of color, and women. Many people that fit into these categories feel stunned, scared, and shocked by Trump’s victory.
Exit polls corroborated national feeling amongst these groups with Trump winning only 8% of the Black vote, 29% of the Latino vote and Asian vote, and even less among women of color.
CNN’s political commentator Van Jones recently said about Trump’s victory, “People have talked about a miracle. I’m hearing about a nightmare…. I have Muslim friends who are texting me tonight saying should I leave the country. I have families of immigrants that are terrified tonight.” He added that it was true that “this [election] was a rebellion against the elites,” and that “it was a whitewash against a changing country,” and “against a black President.”
Jones argued that Trump’s campaign threw people of color to the side to appeal to a more vast and powerful voting body, white voters, hence the name “whitelash.”
Whether or not the results of the election were due to a “whitelash,” the growing differences in the thoughts, actions, and beliefs of Americans was evident in the 2016 election. Some people believe that Trump is a sexual-predator among other things and Clinton should be in jail.
Even at Prep, conflicts have occurred. Varun Kadikar ’18, the Junior Class President, offers, “This election should not split our community, but it should make it closer than ever. We are all a family and we must help each other get through difficult times.”
Unfortunately, the differences among people’s beliefs have led to a hatred for people in the opposing party, a hatred for politicians, and disgust with the government. It is now up to President-elect Trump to repair the fractured nation and unite the country.