MACLANE: Trump victory not result of ‘whitelash’
Opinions Column: Conservative Hot Corner
In an unexpected turn of events, Donald Trump is the new president-elect of the United States. Going into Election Day, it seemed all but certain that Hillary Clinton would be victorious considering that the polls in many of the swing states were in her favor. Many of the polling models also had her somewhere between 70 percent and even as high as 98 chance of winning. But despite the odds, Donald Trump came out the victor and will be the 45th President of the United States come Jan. 20.
Many commentators are drawing the conclusion that President-elect Trump won by exploiting the “whitelash” of the American electorate. Most notably, Van Jones, commentator at CNN, has made the case, claiming that Trump’s victory is the result of a “whitelash against a changing country” and also “against a black president.” Van Jones's contention is not supported by the facts. The voter demographics indicate that Trump energized a group of voters who have felt alienated by the establishment of both major parties. Secretary Clinton also failed to energize the voter base that staunchly supported President Obama.
Trump actually won a lower percentage of the white vote than Mitt Romney, 58 percent to 59 percent respectively. Even with all of the talk about alienating minorities, Trump actually improved the GOP’s standing with many minority groups, according to the exit polls. Romney only won 6 percent of the African-American vote and Trump garnered 8 percent. With Latinos, Romney came away with 27 percent and Trump won 29 percent.
This election was not the “whitelash” Van Jones wrongly claims it to be. It was the result of a populist message that resonated with many working class Americans, specifically among uneducated white voters. This group of voters felt alienated by the establishments of both parties, which also helped fuel the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump with his anti-trade and anti-globalism rhetoric swung many counties in the Rust Belt states, counties that voted for President Obama both in 2008 and 2012, to cast a ballot for the GOP candidate. Of the 676 counties that voted for Obama twice, Trump was able to flip 209 of them. White, uneducated voters also helped drive Trump to victory. Sixty-seven percent of white voters without a college degree voted for Trump compared to just 28 percent for Clinton. This indicates a major change from 2012 as Romney won 61 percent over Obama’s 36 percent.
Although President-elect Trump was able to energize this alienated group of voters, Hillary Clinton’s dishonesty should not be understated when explaining the results of this election. Secretary Clinton, being under investigation by the FBI for her emails, was so disliked that she failed to turnout the same amount of voters as President Obama. Secretary Clinton garnered near 5 million less votes than President Obama in 2012 and 10 million less than 2008. It is absolutely remarkable that the Democrats have managed to lose 10 million voters in just 8 years. Voter turnout was also way down in many of the swing states among minorities. Early ballots in Florida among African-Americans dropped from 25 percent in 2012 to just 16 percent in 2016. There was also an 8.7 percent drop of early ballot African-American voters in North Carolina. African-Americans in these states tend to vote Democrat and these states proved crucial for Donald Trump’s victory.
This election came down to the incompetency and corruption of Hillary Clinton. According to an NBC poll (taken in August), only 11 percent of Americans described the former First Lady as trustworthy. This is what happens when you set up a private email server to send and receive classified government information and delete 33,000 emails after the FBI has served you with a subpoena. Also, having a charitable foundation suspected of running a pay-to-play scheme does not help when trying to garner votes. The Democrats had an honest candidate named Bernie Sanders, with whom I disagree with on most issues, who probably would have won white voters without a college degree, effectively crippling Trump’s base. Instead, they chose the corrupt former Senator who was fired from the Watergate investigation for being, according to Jerry Zeifman (a lifelong Democrat who supervised Hillary during that investigation) “an unethical, dishonest lawyer.” Her corruption essentially handed the presidency to Trump considering Trump did not even break the number of popular votes that Mitt Romney received in 2012.
Van Jones is entirely incorrect in blaming this election on “whitelash.” He provided no statistical backing and just tried to attribute Trump’s rhetoric to energizing a group of white voters. The statistics indicate that Trump’s populist message resonated in the Rust Belt and the lack of voter turnout heavily favored him. He even won less white voters than Mitt Romney. Even Michael Moore has acknowledged that it was not the “whitelash” but the alienated middle class that fueled this victory. Maybe instead of perpetuating false narratives, Van Jones should stick to what he knows best, getting arrested at violent riots just as he did in 1992 and 1999.
Daniel MacLane is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science. His column, "Conservative Hot Corner," runs on alternate Mondays.
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