THE GREAT DEMEXIT: WHY HILLARY LOST THE ELECTION
Editor’s Note: Hillary Clinton could end up with a couple million additional votes after all the mail-in ballots are counted. Her total should still be significantly less than what Obama received in 2008 and 2012. Affected statistics will be adjusted appropriately until final election results are posted.
When he first ran for President in 2008, Democrat Barack Obama earned 69.5 million votes, an amazing 10.5 million more than fellow Democrat John Kerry had received only four years prior. In fact, 69.5 million is the most votes ever cast for a President of the United States. In 2012, however, Obama’s popularity declined. America handed him only 65.9 million votes, 3.6 million less than in 2008. This downward trend continued last week, when Democrat Hillary Clinton attracted even fewer supporters, an ineffective 61.4+ million, about eight million less than Obama at his peak.
What explains this DemExit: the indisputable fact that many millions of Obama supporters exited the Democratic scene over the course of eight years and abandoned the Party when Clinton needed them the most? Where did these people go? And why did they go there?
It is tempting to imagine some of these millions switching sides and taking up residence with the Republicans. But this fantasy fails to fit the basic facts. In the last three presidential races, turnout for the Republican candidate has been remarkably consistent: 59.9 million votes for McCain in 2008; 60.9 million for Romney in 2012; and now about 60.5+ million for Trump. From a broad, mathematical perspective, we observe eight years of relative static on the Right, with no great infusion or depletion of people willing and able to vote Republican.
Did Obama’s millions migrate then to a third party? During the same period of time as the DemExit, the Libertarian and Green parties have enjoyed a real, upward trend in support at the polls, despite nominating unremarkable candidates. The Libertarians moved from 0.5 million votes in 2008 to 4.2 million in 2016. Meanwhile the Greens went from a measly 0.2 million to a more respectable 1.3 million supporters. Considering both parties’ numbers combined, that is about 4.8 million additional voters entering the third-party universe in only the last eight years.
It seems likely that these 4.8 million represent about 50-60% of Obama’s missing millions. If that is indeed the case, what might their party realignment indicate about their reasons for leaving the Democrats? And what does their voting for a third-party actually mean?
First and foremost, this development signifies a meaningful rejection of the Democrats, not in favor of the Republicans, but in favor of radical, political change as represented by a third party. It probably also denotes an intensifying protest of the two-party system itself. And perhaps, even more fundamentally, it suggests a desperate reaction against the very thing our two-party system has come to represent: the elite, political Establishment and all of its ugly, corrupt trappings.
Are Obama’s millions really, at heart, anti-Establishment? Perhaps in 2008 they noticed a black Progressive making racial history in the White House, and they had hope for revolutionary political change. But this year they saw only a dishonest queen of the hated Democratic Establishment and refused to stand with her like some mistreated and forgotten stooge. Instead they registered millions of wild complaints in the form of throw-away votes for ineffectual third parties.
Let us also not forget about the absent 40-50% of Obama’s millions. Where did they go on election day? Judging by the raw statistics, it seems like they avoided the polling stations altogether. Without an actual, or at least perceived, anti-Establishment or Progressive candidate on the Democratic ticket, these former Obama supporters probably found no reason to return to the political landscape, not even to lodge a single-use protest vote.
Did losing all of these no-shows and party-jumpers cost Clinton the Oval Office?
Most likely, yes. But it is difficult to say with absolute certainty. For, how many of these people live in the critical Rust Belt states that Donald Trump flipped from blue to red? How many were in the crucial Florida battleground? Perhaps we will never know for sure. After all, many of them, the absent 40-50℅, simply vanished on election day.
Many of the missing are undoubtedly part of Bernie Sanders’ disgruntled four million Twitter followers, currently wandering about like nomads without a political party. These die-hard Progressives used the #DemExit hashtag way back in July, urging people to leave the Democratic Party. They had joined the system for socialists like Bernie, only to figure out that the system was rigged against them. With a closed fist in the air, they unplugged from the system and raged their way to the unknown, where former Obama supporters awaited their arrival.
The basic fact of the DemExit is indisputable. Many millions of people who voted for Obama in 2008 did not vote for Clinton last week. Still, some naysayers must always challenge the obvious. They will pick at insignificant details and insist that there is nothing relevant to see in these simple statistics. But what they are really saying is that they harbor an entrenched disrespect for historical trends in human behavior. Only the more immediate present has relevance to them. Only “the now” can be explained with any confidence. Such short-sighted, narrow-focused personalities will offer up numerous excuses for Clinton’s defeat, and most of these ideas will have little or nothing to do with actual historical facts.
First the TV pundits subjected us to the “whitelash” hypothesis, which blames white voters for taking their supposed racism against Obama out on Hillary. But where is the evidence of this great problem? The same number of people voted for Trump as did for McCain and Romney, two white men who actually ran against a black man, not a white woman. Why wasn’t the whitelash much greater when Obama ran against these Caucasians? Even assuming the existence of this whitelashing, the phenomenon cannot possibly be more pervasive now in 2016 than it was back in 2012 and 2008. And it certainly cannot account for Hillary winning the popular vote.
Some people have tried blaming Clinton’s defeat on men, as if this election proved the existence of a widespread epidemic of inherent misogyny among the male population. Is it not bad enough that men–whites in particular–are classified by liberals as implicit racists? Must men now be publicly vilified as secret sexists, too? Not that the Right is any better, but the Left suffers from a terrible addiction to race and gender politics, and it prevents them from inspiring anything other than division and infighting among their ranks. But that is a rant for another time.
Even if we accepted the Feministic idea that men generally dislike women in power, would that explain the popular vote in favor of Clinton? Would it even explain the Rust Belt vote? Were men in Ohio typically complaining about Hillary’s femininity–or was it her corruptibility and invisibility?
Some, who grant more respect to reality, have decided that Clinton fatally neglected the Rust Belt states. This point seems very true, and it helps to explain, in part, why Trump outplayed Clinton in the electoral college. But Hillary’s neglect of the Rust Belt does not address the forgotten elephant in the room: Obama’s millions. How many more battleground states could she have won, if she had been able to keep some of those millions in her orbit?
Hillary, and her aides, perhaps unable to face reality just yet, have lashed out at FBI Director James Comey, blaming him for her loss. These attempts to scapegoat him are completely delusional, but perfectly in keeping with a long history of trying to deflect responsibility for Clintonian mistakes.
Are we expected to believe that people dismissed Clinton because Comey took another look at her emails and then, for a second time, absolved her of her sins? If anything, he probably reassured fence-sitters who leaned in Clinton’s direction and motivated their wishy-washy asses to the polling stations on election day.
Are we expected to further believe that Comey’s actions convinced Rust Belt women to throw in with Trump at the last minute, and that is why Hillary lost? Really? The Democrats want to blame women now?
Is it everyone’s fault except Hillary’s?
After the Category 5 shitstorm that overshadowed this entire election season, it is beyond absurd to blame Director Comey or Rust Belt maidens for the Democratic Party’s epic and inexcusable catastrophe. Donald Trump was, without a doubt, the most despicable Republican candidate to ever run for President of the United States. Yet Hillary Clinton still lost to him.
And now she expects us to believe that someone else is to blame for her personal and strategic failure. Unbelievable.
Hillary’s fable-rousing will not distract real historians and truth-seekers from Trump’s execution of the Rust Belt strategy, or from the fact of the DemExit. But it might be someday remembered as a fitting farewell. For those who look will see that her words eloquently reflected the realm of make-believe in which the Democratic Establishment currently resides.
Featured image by Mark Dixon via Flickr.