The numbers are now in. Trump won with a little help from the Russians, and the Chinese are definitely on the front foot in the South China Sea.
Adrian Beaumont at The Conversation has the final count.
- Clinton won the overall popular vote by 65.84 million votes, to 62.98 million for Trump, a difference of 2.86 million. Clinton’s raw vote was down only slightly from Obama’s 65.92 million in 2012, while Trump was over 2 million above Mitt Romney’s vote.
In percentage terms, Clinton won 48.1%, to Trump’s 46.0%, a 2.1% popular vote win, compared with Obama’s 3.9% win over Romney. Libertarian Gary Johnson won 3.3% and Green Jill Stein 1.1%.
My calculations indicate that around 27% of eligible voters voted for Trump.
Of course, we know that Trump won 306 electoral college vote to Clinton’s 232. The crucial states won by Trump were Wisconsin (by 0.8%) Michigan (by 0.2%) and Pennsylvania (by 0.7%).
We are told that biggest factor in explaining the swings was that higher educated voters, with college degrees, voted for Clinton, and lower educated voters opted for Trump. It was education rather than income, and applied also in states where there were more black or Hispanic voters than whites. Certainly whites voted for Trump and blacks heavily for Clinton. The Hispanic turnout was higher than in 2012, which improved Clinton’s position in Texas and Arizona, without flipping the states. Black turnout was a bit lower than for Obama.
- A crucial factor in Trump’s victory was that voters who did not like either candidate (18% of the total according to exit polls) selected Trump by 47-30 over Clinton. Had these voters split fairly evenly, Clinton would have won as her favourable rating exceeded Trump’s by five points.
Turnout overall was 60.0% of eligible voters, up from 58.6% in 2012. This seems low, but we should remember that only 82% of eligible Australians cast a formal vote at the recent Federal election under compulsory voting.
The election was so close that many of the narratives about how Trump won are probably true. The article says that reopening the Clinton email file by the FBI 11 days before the election probably changed the result.
The FBI and the CIA both believe that the Russians intervened by hacking the emails of Democrat campaign chair John Podesta and provided them to WikiLeaks. I don’t know why this would surprise anyone.
Yet Clinton and Podesta have been reluctant to admit that their strategy was fundamentally flawed and inadequate. Articles like this tell how she neglected the states that turned the election, that the famous Democrat ground game had willing workers who were not supported, and that the whole campaign was corporate and bland.
John Fallows at The Atlantic says he has spent half of the last decade getting around the traps in the US to see what is going on, the other half in China. He says that the election of Trump was the most grievous blow that the American idea has suffered in his lifetime. However, it was not one of “sweeping change” caused by the authorities ignoring the pain of those left behind. He believes that:
- our current era has been another one of painful but remarkable reinvention, in which the United States is doing more than most other societies to position itself, despite technological and economic challenges, for a new era of prosperity, opportunity, and hope.
He emphatically disagrees that:
- this was a sweeping “change” election, and that it reflected a pent-up desperation and fury that would have been evident if anyone had bothered to check with Americans “out there,” away from the coasts.
He says that there was a bit of everything in the story which gave Trump a very narrow win, including the “fury out there” theory. Yet everywhere he and his wife went in America people were getting together and improving their lives, and their lives were improving.
- city by city, and at the level of politics where people’s judgments are based on direct observation rather than media-fueled fear, Americans still trust democratic processes and observe long-respected norms. As I argued in a cover story last year, most American communities still manage to compromise, invest and innovate, make long-term plans. They even manage to cope with the ethnic change and racial tension that Donald Trump so crudely exploited in his campaign, with more flexibility and harmony than anything about the campaign might indicate. Yes, residential and educational segregation are evident across the country. Yes, police violence is more visible than ever before. But people in Michigan and Mississippi and Kansas were more willing to start confronting these injustices locally than nationally. The same was true of immigration. In our travels we observed what polls also indicate: The more a community is exposed to recent immigrants and refugees, the less fearful its people are about an immigrant menace. We heard no lusty “Build a wall” cheers in California or Texas or other places where large numbers of outsiders had arrived.
And yet Donald Trump won.
- How could his message of despair and anger about the American prospect, and disrespect for the norms that made us great, have prevailed in a nation that still believes in itself at the local level? How can Americans have remained so confident and practical-minded in their daily civic dealings, and so suspicious, fearful, and tribally resentful about the nation as a whole?
- Nearly a century ago, Walter Lippmann wrote that the challenge for democracies is that citizens necessarily base decisions on the “pictures in our heads,” the images of reality we construct for ourselves. The American public has just made a decision of the gravest consequence, largely based on distorted, frightening, and bigoted caricatures of reality that we all would recognize as caricature if applied to our own communities. Given the atrophy of old-line media with their quaint regard for truth, the addictive strength of social media and their unprecedented capacity to spread lies, and the cynicism of modern politics, will we ever be able to accurately match image with reality? The answer to that question will determine the answer to another: whether this election will be a dire but survivable challenge to American institutions or an irreversible step toward something else.
With post-truth politics and fake news spread by social media, political discourse in the context of democratic representative democracy seems broken. The question is whether it can be put together again.
Kevin Rudd expressed similar sentiments recently when receiving a doctor of laws at the ANU:
- Our land and our people have indeed been deeply blessed. Yet I fear that part of our cup that remains empty may become the larger part.
But somehow we seem powerless to act. It is as if we have lost our national bearings. Lost in a national culture of learned helplessness. Lost in what the Jesuits call “the globalisation of superficiality”. Losing faith too in our national institutions.
We are satisfied instead by this shrieking culture of partisan recrimination, and the kabuki play that now passes for our national politics – where the room for discourse on the deep questions of our future has become increasingly marginal; where any discussion of national vision, let alone global vision, disappears amid the deafening howls of derision from a political class and large parts of the commentariat whose first instinct is to tear down, never to build up.
This is all reinforced by national elites, both of the right and the left, both corporate and union, including both academia and the media, increasingly incapable of honest self-reflection.
It is as if we have produced such a vicious public culture, well beyond the realms necessary for robust disagreement and debate, in which to admit error is to admit weakness and therefore to yield to defeat.
Rudd calls for a big Australia, an “Australia that is big in heart, big in imagination, big in innovation, big in its entrepreneurial spirit.”
It’s a rallying call, but to mean anything we need politicians who act as leaders rather than play partisan games. I still think that in our recent election experience the point at which a politics of reasonable discourse was destroyed was when Malcolm Turnbull said negative gearing would smash house prices, when he knew it wouldn’t. Things went south from there.