Last week, I wrote a piece about how in my home county of Rockland, Hillary Clinton did not perform as well as her down-ballot compatriot Charles Schumer who was an incumbent running, essentially, unopposed (he had an opponent but you would have to be a special kind of crazy to think she had any kind of chance of winning). This got me thinking; if Clinton didn’t do well in this county, which she won, what about the state, which she also won?
In New York State overall, Clinton beat Trump by approximately 1.6m votes in a race that garnered roughly 7.1m votes. She scored an aggregate total number (a total for each party she was on the ballot for) of 4,159,500 votes and beat Trump’s 2,639,994. New York State is a reliably blue state and it stands to reason that Hillary Clinton would outperform Trump.
That isn’t interesting, though, because finding out why Hillary Clinton won New York, a state that she not only should win, but was a lock to win, isn’t as interesting as finding out why she lost the general election. It would appear that when she was proclaimed the candidate it made voters do what party apparatchiks fear the most: stay home. I haven’t gotten around to doing the research for the rest of the country yet, but I think it might even be worse than that: Democrat voters did go to the polls, they just didn’t vote for her.
Taking the earlier numbers, Hillary Clinton scored 4,159,500 votes.
Down the ballot line, Charles Schumer scored 4,795, 288 votes. Charles Schumer’s turnout bested Clinton’s total by 635,788 votes.
Let that sink in for a minute while we explore Chuck Schumer to erase any doubt about what this means. I could write a few thousand words about their policies relative to certain issues, but there’s an easier way to understand my larger point. On The Issues is an amazing website that compiles candidate positions in a format designed to give you a policy position digest. At the end of each candidate’s dossier, they show a political compass. Here are the relative compasses of both Clinton and Schumer.
Ideologically, they’re almost perfectly aligned with Schumer slightly more populist than Clinton, but for the purposes of this discussion we’ll set aside this nearly-insignificant difference and call these two candidates ideological equals.
This is important because it belies the idea that there was some major crossover for Schumer and not for Clinton. If a voter was willing to vote for Donald Trump and, at the same time, vote for Senator Schumer, they’d have a level of cognitive dissonance going on that even in this country I’d find hard to believe.
So now that we’ve dispensed with the idea that there was some massive crossover vote accounting for Schumer’s thrashing of Clinton (sounds weird when you put it that way, doesn’t it?) let’s pile on some more factors that make it even crazier.
Senatorial elections are never as highly turned out as Presidential elections.
Incumbents, when running unopposed, turn out even fewer people than that.
In spite of those two things, Schumer still beat Clinton in a state she won in the general election.
There’s only one explanation:
Democrats did go out and vote, but they skipped the box where they picked a President, choosing to neither vote for Trump nor Clinton.
This could be a reflection of the fact that many primary voters felt cheated when leaks about Clinton’s collusion with media outlets and the DNC to make sure that Bernie was buried started to surface. It could be a reflection of the fact that the FBI investigation into Clinton’s mishandling of classified data and the FBI’s later assertion that they wouldn’t proceed because in spite of her actions it would be hard to secure a conviction.
Or it could just be that people are tired of Hillary Clinton.
It’s early yet, and we don’t know what the demographics from this election really look like except for exit polls which are historically unreliable anyway, but the numbers are the numbers, and when Democrats turn out to vote for the Senator but not the Presidential candidate in a state you win by a large margin, you’re being told something.
Lots of folks are spending time analyzing why Hillary lost in the middle of the country, devoting thousands of words to analysis about some Midwest funk that claimed a liberal progressive that’s rooted in either poverty or racism or misogyny or whatever. If I allow you that as a given (for the sake of argument) the more troubling question if you’re a Hillary Clinton supporter or you managed her campaign is how did she lose to Charles Schumer, assuming all of the other factors, in New York, unless you want to make the wild claim that New York is, at its heart, one of those overtly racist and misogynist states its become trendy to mock post-election.
The data told by the states she won is going to be way more interesting than the data from the states she lost. You don’t need to be Nate Silver to know that.
The next analysis like this I’m going is a much bigger project: the entire country, state by state, to see if the trend of people going out to vote, just not for her, continues. Stay tuned!