So, I have been pulling apart data over the last week in several posts:
I have embarked on this activity because:
Reality Check - Partisan Control Across the Country
I want us to be able to advance our agenda. We will not be able to unless we get a handle on why we are losing everywhere but a handful of blue states.
In those posts it becomes pretty clear that there was more going on than the overarching narrative suggested, that Trump saw an uptick of support among rural white racists. While it is most certain that white racists were super enthusiastic about a candidate like Trump, the data at the national level suggests that is not what was going on.
Each of those posts generated much dialogue, and frequently many of us agreed that state by state data would be more revealing. Maybe Clinton’s votes in the blue states skewed what we were looking at on a national level and so on. So I have now pulled out some data from the Wisconsin exit polls and overlayed that with the final vote count. I will do other key states at a later date.
The Wisconsin Narrative
As near as I can tell a lot of the seeming consensus about what happened in a state like Wisconsin is that white rural vote turned out in droves for Donald Trump, while urban areas just turned out less for Hillary Clinton. And everyone has agreed that Trumps voters are doing better than most with that average Trump voter household income of $70,000.
Well, let’s take a look at the data. For the state level data I am just going to show the change from 2012 to 2016, rather giving all of the other data, as I did in the other posts. It just seems to drive illustrate what happened more adequately on this scale.
Note: Exit Polling data is not always the most precise data. However, it does usually show patterns over like questions cycle to cycle.
Bottom line on race in Wisconsin. Trump held serve, pretty much turned out Romney’s vote. Republicans remained. White folks fled Clinton. That lost Wisconsin. What new white folks entered the picture went to Johnson mostly.
It is reassuring to see that the black vote mostly held in Wisconsin. When you look at the black vote nationwide from 2008 to 2012 it dropped nearly 900,000 while from 2012 to this cycle it dropped another 600,000 votes. It is good to see that that national drop off was not really present in Wisconsin, particularly considering this is one of those new voter ID states.
Now, given the dialogue since the election, this set struck me as interesting. Trump and the 3rd party candidates gained voters at the lowest end of the income data available for comparison. Clinton lost approaching 225,000 voters earning less than $50,000. Both her and trump lost ground with the middle class set in this array while Clinton gained significantly with the wealthiest income earners in Wisconsin while Trump actually lost ground. The narrative that Trump was attracted middle income and higher folks to his cut taxes message just does not seem to materialize in Wisconsin anyway.
The story here is fundamentally the lower income end fled the Democratic parties banner in Wisconsin. I do wish I had data with smaller, but this is the only range that I could find that matched cycle to cycle.
This data set was the one I found most surprising. Trump and Clinton GAINED in urban areas at a near equal clip, both lost ground in suburban areas, with Clinton taking the biggest beating while Trump, once again, holds serve with the traditional republican rural base of support. 3rd parties gained more in rural areas of Wisconsin than did Trump.
It is important to note that exit polling data is based on how people self-identify, but, as noted below, only 23 counties actually saw an increase in total votes cat, while 49 showed a decline in voting. It is also important to note that counties with cities in them can still contain a sizabe rural population. It is not the norm for cities to consume entire counties in states like Wisconsin. Very different than the coastal areas that way.
The final Wisconsin data I am going to include is the above by gender data. Sure, a certain number of men went to Trump, and both men and women went 3rd party, it is Clinton’s loss of support in Wisconsin that mattered. This entire data set seems to show that the assumption about a bunch of racists rising up to support Trump jus is not true, however, people seemed unwilling to support Clinton of either gender.
This could be a clear sign of sexism playing a role. That said, when you look through the national data I go over in the other posts I have made, there is some indication that people are feeling a disconnect with the Democratic Parties economic message.
I would conclude that there is m a mix of the two last things going on in Wisconsin. The vibe in the town hall that Chris Hayes did with Bernie is sort of reflected in the data, the Trump supporters in that forum just dismissed Trumps race baiting as unserious, that he would not act on any of it, that he was being provocative. I disagree with their assessment 100%. But just because I disagree with their view does not mean it is not their sincerely held view.
It is clear that the prevailing narrative is just dead wrong in Wisconsin. Trump basically held serve (and when you look nationally Trump did worse with the percent of white than Romney did). The real culprit was collapsing support for Clinton, not a new surge in support for Trump. There appeared to be no significant surge in rural counties according to the exit polling data.
In fact, the exit polling data does jive, only 23 counties saw an increase in total votes cast, while 49 counties saw a decline in total votes cast.
The existing narratives just do not apply to Wisconsin anyway. We liberals, progressives, lefties, left-wing populists, democrats, whatever we call ourselves, need to open our eyes to the realities we face and not get lost in false narratives that only serves our own bias.
Yes, racists liked Trump, but the data makes it clear that the typical republican vote turned out, it is the democratic vote that did not in Wisconsin that made the difference.
I want to close with a disclaimer I started other posts with, I feel we really need to have a broader discussion about what is happening with the electorate, so we can win again, but the discussions often revolve around the same theme, given that Trump was the Republican candidate:
- I believe Trump won this race by running a deeply racist campaign.
- I believe Trump unleashed white nationalist forces in this country in a way that we have not seen in the modern era.
- I believe that addressing the bias toward women, PoC and other historically marginalized populations in our system is a top priority and is rightfully the major focus of the Democratic Party.
- I believe that the challenges of white supremacy can only be met by dismantling our existing institutions and rebuilding them since they were mostly formed to protect white supremacy.
- Lastly, I do believe a decisive factor in this campaign was the economic message.