Little Rock The problem with the first draft of history contained in the snap dash conclusions and generalizations of journalists and pundits is that too many times we forget that a first draft is always replete with errors. We have to hang our hats somewhere, but sometimes we forget to go back and tidy up and start believing the first garbage that went in. In the wake of continuing information coming forward from the election, not only does a movement trump, excuse the pun, a machine, but it also might not be quite the machine we might have hoped it was either.
Factoids are flying our way that are disturbing, and that we have to reconcile:
· 52% of white women voted for Trump.
That’s an almost unbelievable figure given both candidates. The message of women’s empowerment and correction of historic grievances was obviously swallowed and lost somewhere.
· General voter turnout was the lowest for this election since 2000. African-American vote was down. Trump got almost the same share of the African-American and Latino vote as Romney did in 2012, in spite of his incendiary comments throughout the campaign. There was no surge in the Latino vote belying the early voting predictions. Their vote was about the same percentage as the overall totals in recent elections.
· According to NPR, Detroit’s Wayne County delivered 80,000 fewer votes for Clinton than they did for Obama in 2012. She lost the state of Michigan by something like 13,000 votes. If she had even half of those lost, largely African-American votes, Michigan would not have gone to Trump. There were similar stories in other cities.
Demographic shifts don’t matter if we can’t – or don’t – turnout our vote.
· This so-called working class “revolt” for Trump may have been more of the Nixon-Reagan “silent majority” “white-lash.” A better analysis says that where Trump really significantly carried white voters was in the range of families making over $70,000 and less than $100,000.
The pain that drove votes to Trump is real whatever the income, but it matters whether this was the heart of the old Democratic base or aggrieved and entitled middle class, white voters feeling unrecognized and unrewarded.
I talked to organizers I knew in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. One had been on the doors for several days with a contract canvass crew doing turnout for the vote in white working-class turf. She described the training as one-role play and out to the doors along with two-and-one-half hour lunch breaks on the shift, and no accountability on numbers contacted. Organizers are close to the ground, but no one had seen this coming, but perhaps we were not on the ground where we needed to be?
Several raised questions with me about whether the Bernie Sanders campaign had laid the seeds for this defeat. We’ll have to look at that, but it also seems clear that either the machine was not working, or the machine could not overcome the weakness of their own candidate, and we are going to have to come to grips with that as well. Trump may have won, not so much with a movement as by turning out the traditional Republican vote and outperforming in some demographics, but also benefiting from a flawed, sloppy, and arrogant Democratic campaign.