Clinton 2016 < Obama 2012

Interesting piece in Reason making the point that HRC basically did just a little worse than Obama 2012 with pretty much all groups (though, probably more than “a little” worse with non-college whites):

Exit-poll data is far from precise, but it does at least give us an informed idea of why things went the way they did. And all signs indicate that it wasn’t some radical realignment of voting blocs nor new and unique conditions that drove Donald Trump to victory. Like so many GOP leaders before him, Trump’s support was derived largely from older, white, and middle- to upper-class voters, with young people, non-whites, and working-class voters overwhelmingly choosing Clinton. But Clinton couldn’t get as much support from these groups as she needed to counter the predictable wave of older, white voters for Trump.

Across every key Democratic demographic, Clinton’s numbers were down compared to Barack Obama’s in 2012. According to CNN exit polls, 88 percent of black voters chose Clinton this year, while 93 percent of black voters went with Obama in 2012. Black voters also made up less of the total electorate this year—12 percent, down from 13 percent…

Latinos, too, showed less enthusiasm for Clinton this year than they did for Obama, who won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012, compared to 65 percent this year for Clinton. And Asians were also less Democrat-positive in 2016, with 65 percent choosing Clinton this year, compared to 73 percent for Obama four years ago.

Among millennials, there wasn’t any more love for Trump than there had been for Mitt Romney. But young voters did show less love to Clinton than they did when it came to Obama. CNN’s polls showed Trump and Romney captured the same percentage of 18- to 29-year-old voters—37 percent—but Obama won 60 percent of this age group in 2012 while Clinton got just 55 percent this year.

And while 52 percent of Americans who earn less than $50,000 per year voted for Clinton (compared to just 41 percent for Trump), Obama fared better among low-income voters in 2012.

Meanwhile, slightly higher percentages of some key Democratic demographics went for Trump than did for Romney in the last go-round. While Romney got 27 percent of Latino voters, Trump got 29 percent. While Romney got 7 percent of black voters, Trump got 8 percent…

By all early indications, Trump won by winning exactly the Republican status quo; Clinton lost by failing to capture enough of either her party’s traditional base or the coalition of young and non-white voters that proppelled Obama to power. While many will call this a mandate for Trump, it’s probably better read as an anti-mandate for Clinton. For all the irregularities of Trump’s campaign and character, he hasn’t forged radically different demographic ground here than did Romney or other Republicans (something that, alas, doesn’t bode well for GOP reflection and reform). And for all Clinton’s potential power as the first female candidate, she could have won by simply hanging on to Obama’s status quo.  [emphasis mine]

Why?  1) Trump–completely absurdly– ended up being almost entirely normalized.  2) Presumably Clinton was significantly abnormalized.  Gender?  Just not as good a politician as Obama?  Scandal (whether worthy or not)?  We’ll never completely know, but this election is not quite the sea change many want to see in it.

That said, Democrats absolutely have to find a way to better reach out to non-college white voters (they don’t have to win them, just not get killed) in economic ways that will not do anything to diminish their urban/cosmopolitan coalition.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

5 Responses to Clinton 2016 < Obama 2012

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    Between men who can’t see a real leader who is not a man and women who feel the same, it will be a long time before another woman is nominated by a major political party. Possibly a woman could get in by the back door of being on the ticket as the V-P candidate but that’s about it as I see it.
    A part of my reasons for supporting Hillary was this: If not HER, Who? When?
    Not in my lifetime.

  2. pino says:

    2) Presumably Clinton was significantly abnormalized. Gender? Just not as good a politician as Obama? Scandal (whether worthy or not)?

    You scolded me last time I commented on HRC worthiness and redeeming qualities. To many many non-racist, non-misogynist, non-homophobe and non-xenophobes, we find her without redemption.

    I find it interesting that your first answer was gender.

  3. rgbact says:

    This makes sense, from what I’ve seen, although theres a very regional aspect to it too. In a state like Virginia, Trump gained a few of those rural Democrats….but lost it all in the population centers. But in the Rust Belt, urban voters were just uninterested overall and Hillary didn’t get many converts……leaving Trump to clean up with rural swing voters who wanted no part of Hillary. In other states, it was a different story yet……but those states didn’t matter..

  4. anonymous says:

    The Trumpslide was a complete vindication of Steve Sailer’s Great Lakes Strategy first proposed way back in 2000. The vast majority of gains over Romney were clustered in that region.

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