The political left will try to spin an interpretation of the election that whites, particularly men, achieved some kind of political consciousness based upon antipathy towards others not of their race and to larger cultural changes allegedly “inclusive.” This rallied them to turn out in large, unified numbers to allow Republican Pres.-elect Donald Trump to defeat Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton. The only problem with this view is that the data support a completely different, far less dramatic and less pejorative reality where issues matter more than image.
For the leftist thesis to hold, the count would have to end with increased Trump support over the total for 2012 GOP candidate Mitt Romney, who faced criticism for tepid turnout of expected voters and that exit poll data would show that whites would offer him significantly more support than Romney received in 2012. In fact, neither happened. When all the votes come in, Trump likely will receive fewer than did Romney, and he only improved one point in the proportion of white voters he pulled.
In Louisiana, vote patterns mirrored this national trend. Trump’s vote proportion almost matched that of Romney’s and surpassed raw his total by about 2 percent. By contrast, Clinton’s proportion declined by 3 percent from Pres. Barack Obama’s 2012 numbers and her raw total was 3.7 percent lower, but state raw totals were up 1.7 percent. That’s because the top three minor party slates more than doubled their 2012 in votes, up to the 60,000 range. Factor out all minor parties, and raw numbers actually declined even as total registration increased.
This fact escaped some other analysts of Louisiana data that then led them to conclude that lack of enthusiasm among blacks led to lower Clinton totals, arguing this came in around 3 percent lower than in 2012. But that’s only part of the picture: if Louisiana followed national trends, another Clinton problem came from Trump outperforming Romney in his shares of the minority vote, doing 7 points better among blacks, 8 points better among Hispanics, and 11 points better among Asians. Clinton’s Louisiana totals are lower in part because more members of these minority groups defected to Trump.
At the same time, since white disproportionately comprise voters for minor parties and as Trump nationally barely improved his performance among whites while minor party voting in the state swelled, part of his improvement in raw numbers over Romney thus came from minorities who in 2012 voted for Obama, at the expense of Clinton. Put another way, a small proportion of whites who normally voted for Republicans instead voted for minor party slates (and a very small portion of whites, the totals seem to indicate, who normally voted for Democrats instead voted for minor party slates) and in Trump’s column were replaced by minority voters who normally voted for Democrats, leaving a unfilled gap in Clinton’s column.
In the national context, that destroys the thesis the left tries to peddle about the sources of Trump’s win. It also validates a more nuanced view of the impact of black voters rolling off from Clinton without Obama heading the ticket: such Clinton decline/Trump replace appears to have occurred marginally in the 39 uncompetitive (plus the District of Columbia) states like Louisiana, but in most competitive states the declination part did not. In all but three Clinton actually ran roughly even with Obama and considerably ahead in one, Florida.
But she lost all three of those key swing Rustbelt states precisely because she ran considerably behind Obama’s totals, in a manner way beyond what Trump typical carving of minority voters could explain. That’s as in these places white turnout apparently increased substantially and disproportionately voted for Trump. And in Florida, while white voters did disproportionately vote for Trump but not in such dramatic fashion as in those other states, minority voters, particularly Hispanics, did vote in higher proportional totals for Trump, where he ran up a total that easily would have defeated Obama.
In other words, in the Rustbelt swing states he won, white voters in particular voted in their self-interests. Why not, after seeing during the Obama years their jobs disappear, the lowest proportion of able-bodies adults at work in four decades, stagnant incomes with greater wealth inequality, and an Obama Administration sacrificing their jobs on the significant anthropogenic climate change myth altar. These voters defected massively from Obama/Clinton to Trump, and put him in the White House as a result.
In that respect, Louisiana resided on the cutting edge. Long ago a majority of its voters recognized the bankruptcy of liberalism that lay behind public policy emanating from Obama specifically and Democrats generally, and voted in their own best interests for Republicans that often, although not always, supported conservatism. It just took a while for enough of the country to catch up.
Perhaps the most stunning confirmation of this genuine explanation comes from comparing data between the two elections regarding a question that asks about candidate qualities, including whether the candidate “cares about people like me.” In 2012, Obama wiped out Romney on this question, while at the same time on the majority of issues a majority of respondents actually placed themselves closer to Romney. In 2016, Clinton still had a commanding majority on this question, 58-35, yet enough voters in swing states apparently disregarded that and voted their ideologies, who still placed themselves closer to the GOP candidate on issues, to give Trump the Electoral College win and produce a dead heat in popular vote.
Trump won nationally because voters in key states voted on the basis of issues, not on the basis of candidate image. It’s something Louisiana majorities began to do in significant numbers over a decade ago, and only now are some other parts of the country catching up to Bayou State majorities.