On election night, when the results began rolling in, and it became clear that Donald Trump might actually win the presidency, a lot of us were probably starting to put stock in his campaign promise of bringing out a flurry of new voters to support him.
Trump won an impressive victory for sure, but an analysis of the voting results by Karl Rove in today’s Wall Street Journal points to a different conclusion: Hillary Clinton severely under-performed.
Despite the pool of eligible U.S. voters rising 5.5% since 2012, the number of ballots cast this year went up by only 1.5%. And both major political parties actually came away with fewer votes than four years ago — that number dropping by roughly 3 million.
It was originally reported that Trump under-performed Romney from 2012, but according to Rove, Trump narrowly beat Romney (by around 317,000 ballots), while earning a slightly smaller percentage of votes. What this suggests is that any new voters that Trump brought into the fray merely replaced the traditionally-Republican voters who couldn’t pull the lever for Trump; Rove notes that third-party candidate support rose to 7.5 million votes this time around.
The real story, from an electorate standpoint, is that Hillary Clinton lost 3.5 million Obama voters (3.4 percent) from four years ago. That’s a significant number, and it reflects how truly poor of a presidential candidate she was.
Rove puts it this way:
“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.”
Trump certainly deserves credit for an impressive victory, but I also think he and the GOP owe a special thanks to Hillary Clinton, who proved herself to be so astonishingly unappealing to voters that she lost to a candidate who, even in victory, is viewed favorably by only 42% of the country (making him the least popular president-elect in 24 years). And that’s an 8-point jump from just prior to election day!
Let’s also give some credit to the DNC, who decided eight years ago that Clinton would be their 2016 nominee…no matter what. You can say what you will about the circus that was this year’s GOP primary (and I did many times), but at least the voters were given a good selection of candidates to choose from.