I wrote out some early post-election thoughts already. As I look at the numbers, I become more sure about most of them as well as some I’ve had since early in the primary season.
Much of the discussion before the election was what combination of states Trump would have to win in order to win the election. My concern was that the answer was really much simpler: Liberals either voting third party or not voting at all. I believe that to be the case.
One thing I learned as a political science major is that Republicans always vote and always vote for their candidate. With several high-profile Republicans proclaiming they would break ranks, I thought that might not hold true. Regardless, I figured Donald Trump was right that he could commit murder and not lose voters. That is why I knew turnout would be crucial, and as I wrote in my previous post, I believe that was the case.
Estimates place the number of registered voters in America at about 200 million. That’s a huge increase from the 146.3 million in 2012 and doesn’t even include the millions of eligible citizens who failed to register. Final tallies will take some time yet, but the number of votes cast in this election will probably hold steady or even decline from 2012. Donald Trump seems likely to end up with about 60 million votes. Mitt Romney received almost 61 million in 2012.
The popular vote was close and probably ultimately won by Hillary Clinton. Still, she might not reach Mitt Romney’s 2012 total. Again, the number of registered voters increased by more than 40% in the last four years, but the number of votes cast went nowhere. Why is that?
For that question, I go back to the second thought from my previous post. Democrats spent too much time and effort on an anti-Trump message and not enough on a pro-Clinton message. I saw similar sentiment in the late ’90s with Michigan Governor John Engler including “Anyone But Engler” posters and such. He won re-election in a landslide even though Democrats outnumbered Republicans in the state during his entire tenure. He first won the office in 1990 after trailing in the polls by double digits heading into Election Day. Less than 45% of registered voters cast a ballot that year.
Pundits have focused on how polling failed to measure support for Trump. I think the real flaw was the failure to measure the lack of support for Hillary Clinton. I repeat: Republicans always vote. Liberals (who often resist identifying as Democrats), on the other hand, require motivation. There is no ballot option to vote AGAINST a candidate. People can only vote FOR a candidate, and not nearly enough was done to encourage people to vote for Hillary Clinton.
I’m not innocent in all this. I resisted writing about this election, and the one time I did I got caught in what I knew to be a dangerous wave. I even mentioned that in the post. I focused too much on why I didn’t like Trump and not nearly enough about why I chose Clinton.
Many liberals are complaining today about how various entities such as the DNC or the electoral system have failed. The failure really lies with us. We failed to get out the vote, and now we must live with the result. Hopefully in the future, we can learn from this.