The Democrats’ staggeringly piss-poor performance Tuesday night resulting in Donald Trump’s victory can be summed up in one word: Turnout.
Hillary Clinton would have won had she focused her message more on appealing to white, working-class voters in rust belt states like Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
As this New York Times map of the 2012 election shows, President Obama won all of those states in 2012. Obama also won roughly 2.6 million more votes than Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Donald Trump’s narrow margin of victory in the Electoral College was only possible by winning all of the aforementioned rust belt states.
There was hardly any enthusiasm behind Hillary Clinton when examining exit poll results. In an analysis of Reuters/Ipsos exit polling, Times writer Sarah Jaffe found several revealing trends showing why Clinton was a poor choice for the Democrats in terms of motivating voters to get to the polls and cast their ballots for their party’s nominee:
75 percent of respondents agreed “America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.”
Only slightly fewer agreed that “the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful,” and — perhaps the kicker — 68 percent believed that “traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like me.”
The numbers bear out that argument — Clinton’s turnout was lower than Obama’s turnout in both 2008 and 2012, even though she still won the popular vote this year.
No matter how you slice it, Clinton wasn’t enough of a draw to make the difference, particularly in key states like Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — states Obama won in 2012.
As the Washington Post reported, three traditionally blue states Trump won in 2016 that Obama won in 2012 — Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — Clinton got between 5 and 15 percent fewer votes than Obama.
The Democratic primaries were a harbinger of things to come in a general election matchup featuring Clinton and Trump. As US Uncut reported in March, Hillary Clinton’s victories in the March 1 Super Tuesday primaries all depended on voter turnout numbers lower than 2008 figures — the last time there was a contested Democratic primary.
In all seven states Clinton won that day, each state had turnout anywhere between 4 percent and 50 percent lower than in 2008.
The data makes the argument all by itself. No amount of scapegoating heaped on Jill Stein supporters can explain Hillary Clinton losing traditional Democratic strongholds that Obama won not only once, but twice.
In Detroit, Michigan, for example, Hillary Clinton got roughly 120,000 fewer votes than President Obama in 2012.
Those votes made the difference in securing Trump’s victory, as Clinton lost Michigan by roughly half that number.
Former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell — one of the most senior officials within the Democratic Party apparatus — argued in a radio interview that even though Hillary Clinton was beloved by Democratic Party leadership, Bernie Sanders would have likely prevailed among the white, working-class rust belt constituency specifically due to his anti-establishment message.
“It would be interesting to think of how Bernie Sanders would’ve done. Bernie Sanders would’ve lost a few Republicans who voted for Hillary because of some of his economic views but he would’ve fought Donald pretty hard for those disaffected, angry, and frustrated workers,” Rendell said on 1210 WPHT in Philadelphia.
Had the Democratic Party nominated a candidate more attuned to the mood of voters in one of the most anti-establishment elections in generations, turnout could have been much higher, and America would have averted Trump’s victory.