11/11/16

Note: This is the second in a long series of separate postings discussing many aspects of the 2016 elections.

While final results are still pending in a few states, the outcome is clear and I have adjusted the numbers to reflect my estimate of the final outcome. It is important to note that, shockingly, nearly a week after the elections there are two versions of the results on many different web sites. It all surrounds California. According to both Fox and CNN, the results in California are not fully counted yet. While AP says that they are and is showing less voters voted in California for 100% reporting than Fox/CNN show for 70% counted? Go figure. I took the view that CNN/Fox are more reliable.

On Tuesday, Donald Trump became the 45th President elect of the USA in what seems to be a convincing manner:

  • 538 total Electoral votes
    • Trump: 306
    • Clinton: 232
  • 130,000,000+ total Popular votes:
    • Clinton: ~ 62,800,000
    • Trump: 61,200,000
    • Third Parties: 6,000,000

Clinton’s entire surplus in popular vote is the result of one state, California. Indeed, if one was to take California out, Trump would have a popular vote win in the range of 2,000,000 votes. California, as the largest state in the Union, does get the most electoral votes (55). Electoral votes are generally allocated proportionate to population; therefore this is not the explanation to the discrepancy in popular vote and electoral vote. The difference is that Clinton’s margin in California was huge (more than 20%) while other states that have voted for Trump did so with significantly lower margins, sometimes 1% or 2% etc.

If you take out the three states that gave Clinton large margins, Trump’s popular vote victory will increase to a huge 7,000,000 votes.

I believe that this is part of the greatness of the American political system.

A lot of time was spent by the Founders in making sure that the majority could not oppress the minority and that large states would not overwhelm small states. For instance, think of Congress. The House of Representatives is more or less proportionate, and California has many more delegates than, say, Wyoming. But in the Senate, both have the same number of delegates. Why? Exactly because the idea was to give smaller states a stronger voice than their size or, to state it differently, prevent bigger states from dominating the political scene.

Similarly, the Electoral College system prevents one large monolithic state like California from dominating the entire USA. Otherwise, the USA would not have survived for long.

Having total unshakable control of NY, Illinois and California gives Democrats a huge advantage already. That is why in the run-up to every election we hear of the built-in advantage that Democrats have in the Electoral College. If the Electoral College system would be abolished, the entire USA would always be controlled by the monolithic progressive views of these three states forever. That would not work.

Giving an unchecked authority to either progressive or conservatives over the USA would make them govern poorly. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The checks and balances inherent in the American Polity—the fact that no-one can govern completely and without challenges, the need for finding a compromise—are all part of what makes this system so strong, enduring and the best.

Another very important feature of the results on Tuesday is how small the number of voters that actually made the difference is.

Going back to 2000, we all remember the fact that the entire presidential elections were decided by about 1,000 voters in Florida. To be clear, if Gore was able to flip 550 of the 1,000 he would have been the president. 550 out of 100,000,000 or so. It is astounding.

I did not research the 2004 or 2008 numbers but in 2012, out of 129,000,000 voters, Obama won the popular vote by about 5,000,000. He got a massive 332 electors versus Romney’s 206. In spite of these impressive numbers, it would have taken Romney flipping only about 215,000 voters in the right states (FL, OH, NH and VA) to become the president. Although not as impressive as the 2000 Florida story, it is still amazing.

This year, out of about 130,000,000 votes, Trump lost the popular vote by about 1,500,000 but won about 306 electors versus Clinton’s 232. It would have taken Clinton flipping about 170,000 voters in FL, PA, WI and AZ to become the president.

This just shows us that US elections are decided regularly by the narrowest of margins. The problem of course is to know how to find them and where to find those voters that can make the difference. It is like looking for a needle in the hay stuck.

Given the above tiny number of voters that made it happen for Trump, how can one explain his victory?

Trump did not have a sophisticated, advanced micro targeting campaign.

Trump victory, I believe, is attributable to two factors:

  1. His intuitive, brilliant reading of the national mood supported by some limited analysis of the electoral/voting map
  2. Clinton’s massive failure to get enough voters to vote for her

The numbers clearly show that of the two, the latter has contributed more.

Trump got about 61,000,000 voters and won big time in the Electoral College.

Romney got 61,000,000 voters (yes, basically the same number) and lost the Electoral College in a spectacular fashion.

There was no white voter revolt, as the stupid irresponsible pundits will tell you. The white voter turnout this year was more or less the same number as in 2012 and, indeed, their share of the vote was 2% less than in 2012, continuing the trend of decline in the white voter part of the popular vote that has been happening for years.

In spite of all the irresponsible and baseless accusations of racism, Trump did better than Romney with minorities, but only marginally so, about 2%.

Trump actually got a slightly lower, 1%, share of the white vote than Romney. Ultimately, he won mostly because she lost.

In 2012, Obama got 66,000,000 voters; Tuesday, Clinton about 62,500,000. That is it. That says it all. That is the crux of the issue.

Not wanting to suggest that Trump was irrelevant to the result, his brilliance was in his ability to get the votes in the right states. He was able to concentrate his efforts on those states where he had the best chance by reading the map correctly but that was effective mostly because Clinton failed to get her voters out.

The question is where did these voters go? The total number of voters this year is very similar; in fact, about a 1,000,000 more voters turned out than in 2012.

How come Clinton got 3,500,000 voters less than Obama 2012 and Trump got the same?

They went to the third parties who, between them, got about 5,800,000 as opposed to about 2,000,000.

The amazing thing is that net—net and indirectly—all of these extra voters for third parties came from Clinton.

Bottom line is this:

  1. The American Polity system was built to smooth out differences and provide checks and balances.
  2. That is why the monolithic states like California are not allowed to control the USA if enough of the other states go against it.
  3. The main reason Trump won is Clinton losing.
  4. There is ZERO evidence of a “white-lash” (see more on that in one of the next postings in this series).