This is the fifth time in history that the winner of the Electoral College also lost the popular vote. It is the 14th time that the winner didn’t receive 50% of ballots. So far Mr. Trump has 61.3 million votes, or 46.8%, to Mrs. Clinton’s 62.4 million, or 47.7%. Her popular-vote lead will likely grow as ballots trickle in from predominantly blue states.
How do those figures compare with 2012? Mr. Trump received about 317,000 more ballots than Mitt Romney, but also a slightly smaller—0.5%—percentage of voters. Mrs. Clinton received 3.5 million fewer ballots and 3.4% less than President Barack Obama. Both candidates this year won fewer white votes—Mr. Trump 1.6 million and Mrs. Clinton 2.3 million—than four years ago.
In other words, Mr. Trump didn’t win because he greatly expanded the GOP, but because Mrs. Clinton lost a significant chunk of the Obama coalition. Compared with 2012 she dropped 1.8 million African-Americans, one million voters age 18-29, 1.8 million voters aged 30-44, 2.6 million Catholics, and nearly 4.5 million voters with family income of $30,000 or less.
Under the rules that govern American elections (not so much the formal rules, but how the game is actually played) Mrs Clinton lost because she wasn’t able to get out the vote in those areas where she most needed the votes. Those people who carry on about the electoral college being unfair blah, blah, blah miss an important point – if the game was to win a majority of the popular vote the campaigns run by both parties would be somewhat different (this is a variation of the Lucas rule – when you change the rules, you change the game).
To my mind this means that Mr Trump was the least disliked candidate. This then suggests:
- we shouldn’t read too much into his election being a backlash against ‘globalisation’ etc.
- we shouldn’t read too much into his election being a restoration of values (or racism on the part of the ‘white’ working class ).
- we shouldn’t expect the same group of voters to re-elect him if he doesn’t perform well (there are widely divergent expectations).
I also think that we, from afar, shouldn’t be too judgemental about Mr Trump’s boorish behaviour – the US electorate in full knowledge of his ‘pussy grabbing’ ways chose to elect him over Mrs Clinton. (Indeed, if the numbers Rove cites above are correct, many of Mrs Clinton’s (natural) constituency chose not to vote at all, either for Mrs Clinton or against Mr Trump). Clearly US voters had other more pressing concerns and it isn’t our place to second-guess those concerns.
A serious negative consequence of Mr Trump’s election has been the ‘collapse’ of the TPP. Yet there is nothing stopping the remaining partners in the TPP from renegotiating that treaty without the US. It also occurs to me that the greatest benefits of free trade would be realised by Australia unilaterally allowing free trade. In the meantime, however, Mr Trump’s election has emboldened our Labor Party to try emulate the same anti-free trade and anti-immigration policies that they imagine got Mr Trump elected. As an aside, I think some of Bill Shorten’s comments about migrants taking local jobs may violate s18c.