rust belt bungle theory
We now have a lot more detail about Tuesday’s vote. Let’s start basic facts:
- Clinton 2 is ahead of Trump in the popular vote. Once the absentee ballots are counted, she’ll likely have a slim victory of about 200,000 votes or so.
- The electoral college was determined by very narrow margins in Midwest states: WI (27k votes, <1%), MI (12k, <<1%), and PA (68k, <1%). Ohio was a Trump blowout by 8%.
- The total popular vote will probably be at 2012 levels or less. Clinton 2, the winner of the popular vote, will barely match the total that the loser of 2012 got. Data: Clinton 2 will get about 59 million votes, Romney got almost 61 million votes.
- It’s not the economy: With 8% unemployment, Obama pulled out a comfortable victory in all the Midwest states Clinton 2 lost. With 5% unemployment, Clinton did much worse. See the stats here.
- Outside the Midwest, things were very predictable: Trump won the South and the Mountain States/Great Plains. Clinton 2 won the West Coast and the Northeast.
- Polls got Clinton 2’s tally correct, over-reported Johnson and under-reported Trump. Exit polls show that Clinton 2 lost Whites by even bigger margins and barely won union voters (!!) but the pattern is actually typical otherwise. But with low turnout and a split electorate, this relatively modest shift matters.
- In the last weeks of the campaign, Trump focused on Wisconsin and Michigan while Clinton 2 tried to steal Arizona before returning to the Midwest.
Taken together, this suggests a very straightforward story of the 2016 general election.
- Each party got roughly what you would expect. There is no massive rejection or endorsement of either party. The polarized electorate is the same as it was before.
- The electoral college split from the popular vote mainly because of (a) modest increase in White votes for Trump and (b) bad urban turnout for the Dems in the Rust belt, stretching from rural Pennsylvania to Wisconsin.
- This does not suggest that HRC was damaged at all by email scandals or any other of the very many Clinton scandals. Her national polling in 2008 and 2016 was pretty much the same Rather, it suggests that the campaign systematically failed to gather votes in one specific area of the country – the rust belt.In a close race, that’s enough.
For next week, I’ll focus on Clinton 2’s long history of poor campaign management and piece together a possible theory of how the Rust Belt Bungle might have happened.