Most of the election forecasters predicted a narrow win for Hillary Clinton, and, in a sense, they were right.
By the latest count, she won a popular vote majority of 2.5 million, or 1.8 percent, over Donald Trump. That was less than President Obama’s margin of victory in 2012 (5 million, or 3.9 percent) and 2008 (9.5 million, or 7 percent). It is safe to say that if her margin of victory was as great as Obama’s, Trump would not have been able to win the electoral vote.
So in order to explain the election result, there are two questions to be answered. Why wasn’t Clinton able to hold on to the 2012 and 2008 Democratic vote? And how was Donald Trump able to win the electoral vote without a nationwide popular vote majority?
I think Clinton lost ground because she took traditional Democratic constituencies for granted. Working people—not just the “white” working class—saw less reason to vote for a candidate who took $625,000-an-hour speaking fees from Wall Street and other corporate interests, supported trade agreements that workers blame for job losses and declining living standards, and gave priority to college-educated liberals.
They didn’t switch to Trump in large numbers. They just stayed home. Clinton meanwhile sought to peel off votes from college-educated suburban Republican women.
She still might have won if not for voter suppression aimed at Democratic constituencies such as African-Americans and college people. As Greg Palast pointed out, voter registrations canceled through use of the bogus CrossCheck system were equal to Trump’s in key states.
The other was the Trump campaign’s success in using social media to target key Democratic voting blocs and persuade them to either support Trump or stay at home.
I think Clinton might well have won—if there had been no voter suppression, if the FBI and the press hadn’t made a big deal about her e-mails, if she and her campaign staff had been a little smarter or if Trump and his staff had not been as smart as they were.
But unless Democrats stopped became a party of working people, the erosion of the Democratic base would have continued, and somebody running on a Trump-like platform would have won in 2020 or 2014.
The moral for Democrats is: Fight for the interests of the people you expect to support you. And I don’t mean Goldman Sachs.
The Clintons’ Dominance of Democratic Politics Is Over—And They Will Not Be Remembered Fondly by Kathleen Geier for In These Times
Now, A Postmortem by Someone Who Actually Saw Trump’s Win Coming by Ted Rall for Rallblog.
Exclusive Interview: How Jared Kushner won Trump the White House in Forbes magazine.
How Trump Lost the Popular Vote and Won the 2016 Election by Will Ayres for U.S. News [Added 12/5/2016]
Listening to Trump by Christian Parenti for nonsite.org.
The Election Was Stolen—Here’s How by Greg Palast.
How the Democrats Could Win Again, If They Wanted by Thomas Frank for The Guardian.