This morning, as I do on many a weekend morning, I sat down at my computer and browsed some news sites. When I was done, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to see how the final results of Tuesday’s election came in. They certainly did not disappoint. One of the fun factoids I was seeking out was how many people broke for Jill Stein in my district (the number, in case you’re curious, is 7, and my wife is one of them; I’ve never been prouder).
What I found the most interesting, however, was that a narrative got broken in the results and one got reinforced.
First, the relevant page of the results. Now remember, this is the accumulated results, unofficially, posted at 2 AM following the polls closing.
I want to draw your attention to the two highlighted rows. The yellow row represents the cumulative total for Hillary Clinton while the pink row represents the cumulative total for Charles Schumer who won his seat easily against challenger Wendy Long who was never a serious threat to Schumer’s seat anyway.
Hillary Clinton had a hell of a run. I can say there’s a lot of Trump supporters in Rockland County, which makes sense because it’s hardly an urban center, and most of the people here probably skew slightly right (although not Middle-America right). Even with that caveat, though, look at Hillary Clinton’s number. 63,454.
Now look at Schumer’s. 76,045.
What does that tell you?
Why this election has confused so many people.
This election is not unique. Sorry. I hate to break it to all of you, but this election is nothing we haven’t seen before. It’s old hat. What is unique, however, is how many people were following data that formerly wasn’t available to the general populace. In the dark days before 24 hour news cycles, excellent independent social network election coverage, and independent media that actually checked facts before spewing them, you had to seek out this information. Voter demos, exit polls, and other info, if you’re lucky, were in the newspapers, or glazed over on the nightly news, but never with the degree of accessibility we have now.
But what was different about this election even from 2012 isn’t that. Much of what we see today was, in fact, around in 2012.
The difference is what people did with the data and who bothered to actually read it. In 2016, even more so than in 2012, the outlets that distilled the data down for the general populace had a narrative they wanted to push, and then tried to find data that bore out that narrative. Many people like to point out that Nate Silver (as an easy example) didn’t really miss the mark on this election, but that it was impossible to predict, but that doesn’t explain how Bruce Mitchell aced the exam 1 week early.
The reason that this election confused people is that for months and months we had polling data from skewed polls in the hands of a media with an agenda being distributed to people who didn’t bother to verify any of it for themselves. If something came along that landed outside the lanes of the narrative, it was disregarded immediately as an outlier. We even know that the DNC gave advice on how to oversample polls to tell the story they wanted to tell.
Keep all this in mind as we go back to the actual election numbers.
Back to the numbers.
The narrative the DNC has stuck with is that racism and misogyny cost Hillary Clinton the election. That narrative is nearly un-questioned and accepted as truth. The mainstream media and liberal alt-media have done an excellent job of boiling down Trump’s appeal to dog-whistles, coded language, and rubes in flyover country being too stupid to understand or too racist to care.
So why then, in a county where Trump is a strong candidate and polled well, did he not win? Rockland County should’ve been a cakewalk, but it wasn’t. He lost, but he only lost by 6,000 votes. Wendy Long, another Republican, challenging an incumbent Democrat, lost by nearly 40,000.
The total number of ballots cast for President that were valid were 125,000 (for a county of approximately 320,000), and 116,000 for the Senate seat that, again, was nearly noncompetitive.
Schumer drew 13,000 more votes than Hillary Clinton did and beat Trump by 19,000. I ask you again, what does that tell you?
Assuming people stuck to party lines (not a wacky assumption), Democrats did come out, they just didn’t vote for her. Schumer, down-ballot from Clinton, outperformed her in a county she won.
So how about those narratives?
Narrative number one is that people love Hillary but were outvoted by racist misogynists. In this little petri dish of a county, we can see that’s plainly not true. The only way that would be true is if thousands of Trump’s racist misogynist supporters crossed party lines to vote for Chuck Schumer. I find that highly unlikely.
But narrative number two, and it’s one that I’ve been pushing since the election, is that Democrats didn’t like Hillary enough to come out for her and didn’t pay attention to the top of the ticket at all, voting only in local issues and down-ballot candidates. That narrative is borne out by the numbers.
What does it mean?
I would have to do more research to see how much this is reflected by the primary results, and I may just try and tackle that data this week, but I have a feeling we’re going to find some correlation there, and the main correlation we’re going to find is that the Bernie voters simply didn’t come out for Hillary, not because of racism, or misogyny, or anything else, they just didn’t feel the need to support her as a candidate.
When other candidates on your ballot line do better than you, that should be a cause for reflection and introspection, and we’re seeing surprisingly little of that from the DNC right now.