Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

January 14, 2017 11:58 AM

A Last Look at the 2016 Election

Note: Campaigns that lose close elections are plagued for weeks, months or years by the “what ifs”. What if this or what if that? Articles are written, lists are developed, speeches are made, forums are attended or organized. And then there is the quieter conversation about who was responsible for not having resolved a “what if” one way or another in a timely fashion. The below includes no “what ifs”.

Between January 1, 2015 and October 30, 2016 of the campaign season $2.3 billion was spent on political ads on all the races up and down the ballot . The presidential campaigns spent $750 million on 900,000 ads. Clinton’s campaign outspent Trump’s campaign by $460 million to $185 million. However, the amount of free advertising received by Trump from coverage of his tweets is inestimable. In March, the NYT Upshot, estimated that through the middle of March, Trump had received close to $2 billion dollars in free advertising as a result of “publishing” his tweets.

Voters waited in line to vote for less time than they did in 2012 and 2008. The average voter waited in line for 11 minutes in 2016, for 13 minutes in 2012 and 16 minutes in 2008. [Charles Stewart, Election Line] It remains to be seen whether this was the result of better administration at voting sites or the fact that more people voted before election day.

The chart below was prepared by the Winston Group and is based on the national exit polls of those who voted in the congressional races in the relevant years. The numbers below describe how the people interviewed described themselves.

  Conservative Moderate Liberal
2008 34% 44% 22%
2012 35 40 25
2016 35 38 26
2008 64 31 4
2012 65 30 5
2016 65 31 4
2008 28 54 17
2012 32 49 19
2016 31 47 22
2008 13 47 30
2012 12 43 46
2016 11 39 50

Over the last 120 years, Ohio is the state that has most often voted for the presidential winner having picked the winner in 29 of 31 elections. In second place are the states of Illinois, Missouri, and Nevada which have voted for the presidential winner in 26 of 31 presidential elections. [Sabato’s Crystal Ball, 12/8/16]

This last election is the first time in history where every state that held a US Senate election voted for the same party for both president and the Senate. [Sabato’s Crystal Ball, 12/15/16]

Effectively 77,759 votes in three states (WI/PA/MI) determined the Presidency. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump won by:

• 22,748 votes in WI, 0.7 of a point (3rd party candidates received: 188,330)
• 44,307 votes in PA, 0.7 of a point, (3rd party candidates received: 218,228)
• 10,704 votes in MI, 0.2 of a point (3rd party candidates received: 250,902)

Orange County, CA voted Democratic for president for the first time since 1936. Meanwhile, Elliott County, KY voted Republican for the first time since it was founded in 1869.

Overall, the national polls were not as wrong as they appeared to be at first glance. The final RealClearPolitics running average had Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton up by 3.2 points. Her actual popular vote margin is 2.1 points. On average, polling in 2016 was closer to the results of the election than it was in 2012. President Obama's final popular vote margin was 3.9 points, but the RealClearPolitics running average before Election Day was 0.7 points, a difference of 3.2 points. The difference in 2016 was just 1.1 points.

Donald Trump won 30 states. Hillary Clinton won 20 states and the District of Columbia. If you do not include the state of California, Trump won the popular vote in the remaining 49 states as a group.

Efforts to convince members of the electoral college to refuse to vote for Trump were close to a total failure. When the electoral votes were cast, only 2 of Trump’s electors did not vote for him but 5 of those theoretically pledged to Clinton did not vote for her.

Recently, when Obama was interviewed by David Axelrod for his Axe Files podcast, the President made the point that “if I had run again” he would have beaten Donald Trump. He went on to say that Hillary Clinton’s campaign acted too cautiously out of a mistaken belief that victory was just about certain. He made the argument that he had put together a winning coalition…but that the Democratic party and the Clinton campaign had failed to follow through on it. In an interview with the Washington Post, Axelrod said that he believed that Obama went further than he ever had before in critiquing Clinton’s campaign. [WPost, 12/27/16]

In September, Salena Zito wrote in the Atlantic, “The press takes him (Trump) literally, but not seriously, his supporters take him seriously but not literally.”

“Trump won the presidency the same way he won the primaries: with the support of a loyal, mostly homogenous core of voters who had previously felt disenfranchised from the political process and disconnected from America’s advancements.” [Caldwell & Sarlin, NBCnews.com, 12/14/16]

The following are two excerpts from an article written by Charlie Cook for National Journal.
“Democrats had become so enamored with the future that they skipped over the present and disrespected the past. Sure, the country has changed, both culturally and demographically, but not as fast as Democrats believed.”

“So as we watch Donald Trump do and say things that no Democrat or conventional Republican would even consider, things that most experts say shouldn’t be done or said, we need to remember that, for better or worse, American voters chose this path. They knew that Trump was inexperienced and untested, but they were so sick of the status quo that they elected him anyway.”

Simply put, Democrats need to expand their sensitivity-training courses to include people who live in small-town and rural America – middle-class white voters, people who live paycheck to paycheck, and whites who attend church at least once a week. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal coalition of voters is now officially dead. Democrats were losing these voters before Donald Trump came along and will continue to do so beyond his presidency unless they show genuine concern for these constituencies. To be sure, the country is changing and becoming more diverse, but it is not doing so at the same pace everywhere. Democrats are running up the score in places that do not help them with majorities in the House, Senate and Electoral College. [Charlie Cook, 12/23/16]

In his book, “The Gift of Anger” Joe Solmonese included the following description of Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump, on the other hand, did throughout his campaign what the United States has seen historically and politically in times of economic uncertainty. He tapped into the well of rage from America’s working middle class, particularly white men who feel that life is unfair. Trump introduced something that is foreign to them (the “other” – in Trump’s case, immigrants), something unknown that gives them someone to blame. He reflected a more dangerous point of view: You’re angry because life hasn’t worked out the way you thought it would. The country doesn’t look the way it used to. It’s being overrun by immigrants who are taking your jobs, bringing the economy to its knees, and threatening your personal safety.”

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