I began election night with exuberance. I was among the many who forecast a Hillary win. The only disagreement among my circle was how big the Hillary rout would be. I thought she’d get at least 300 electoral college votes, and hoped that she’d thump Trump by getting as many as 340, holding him to less than 200 electoral college votes. The tables were turned and Trump was the one doing the thumping, with the electoral vote count estimated to be 290-228 (at this writing, final counts were not in). Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, garnering around 600,000 more votes than Donald Trump.
White folks won the day for Trump in an amazing showing of White solidarity. Trump took 58 percent of the White vote, but did not get a majority vote from any other racial/ethnic group. Only 8 percent of African Americans voted for Trump. He did better among Asian Americans (29 percent) and Hispanics (nearly 30 percent). White people repudiated Hillary Clinton and embraced Trump as one of their own, despite his racist, misogynistic, and jingoistic rhetoric.
Hillary Clinton counted on White women, especially college-educated White women, to save the day. Clearly, they were not with her. According to Edison Research exit polls, Trump won 45 percent of college-educated White women and 62 percent of White women non-college graduates. Trump won 53 percent of the total White female vote. The college-educated White women’s narrow vote for Clinton did not overcome the overwhelming support other Whites gave him. White women valued culture and class over gender. Many of them are the mothers, daughters, sisters or wives of the White men who gave Trump 63 percent of their vote.
Hillary Clinton failed to energize the base, or transcend the indifference that too many voters felt for her. Turnout was only 56.8 percent, just one percent higher than 2012, and lower than the 58.2 percent turnout in 2008. More than 95 million people who were eligible to vote didn’t show up to the polls.
The Republican vote was similar for Trump and for Mitt Romney, the last Republican Presidential nominee. Democrats turned out in much lower numbers for Clinton than they did for Obama. Why? Voter suppression is part of the answer. There were nearly 900 fewer voting places in 2016 than in 2012. Further, states like Wisconsin, which Hillary lost by less than a percentage point, introduced new voter ID laws between 2012 and 2016. Clinton lost by less than 2 percent of the vote in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida.
People of color were more likely to be affected by voter suppression measures than Whites. In Durham, North Carolina, voting machines weren’t working, and a judge ruled to keep the polls open longer to compensate for the broken machines. Clinton lost North Carolina by less than 4 percent. How many more might have voted, but for broken machines and other chicanery?
How many spent hours in line, and how many had to leave lines because they had to go to work?
Hillary Clinton ended her campaign with more than $50 million in the bank! Might some of that money have made a difference in energizing the base? Could more people have been put on payroll as organizers in battleground states, especially North Carolina and Pennsylvania? Should grassroots organizers have received more resources? Lots of fingers can be pointed in this post-election analysis, but analysis notwithstanding, Trump won. It hurts to write that reality down, but it is a reality we will all have to grapple with for four years.
Part of the ugly reality is the realization that too many of our fellow citizens have embraced a racially divisive candidate whose rhetoric has unleashed hateful speech and attitudes. The Detroit News reported that students in Oakland, Michigan blocked pathways of Latino students coming to school, shouting, “build the wall.” These children are emulating their elders, including the “President-elect.” The nonpartisan education news website, the74million.org, has reported that “election-related” school violence is on the rise in the wake of the Trump victory.
Donald Trump was able to tap into the angst that too many Whites felt during the Obama presidency, and he was able to win the presidency in the name of White solidarity and White supremacy. It seems incongruous that a rich, privileged, urban businessman should become the voice of the working class disgruntled, the rural neglected (Trump got 62 percent of the rural vote), and White women. But this is the new reality: the triumph of White privilege and hate rhetoric.
Whites are just 40 percent of the population in California, a state that gave Hillary Clinton 61.5 percent of its vote. And the Census reports that by 2044 there will be no majority group in our nation. White folks might as well enjoy Trump while they can, but time and demographics are on our side. White supremacy won’t reign forever.
Julianne Malveaux is an author and economist. Her latest book “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy” is available via www.amazon.com for booking, wholesale inquiries or for more info visit www.juliannemalveaux.com.