Sunday, December 25, 2016

Must Read - NYTimes: How the Obama Coalition Crumbled, Leaving an Opening for Trump

The 2016 Race

How the Obama Coalition Crumbled, Leaving an Opening for Trump

New demographic estimates for the election, and a look at how the key alliance of Northern white voters and black voters shrank for Hillary Clinton.
It is entirely possible, as many have argued, that Hillary Clinton would be the president-elect of the United States if the F.B.I. director, James Comey, had not sent a letter to Congress about her emails in the last weeks of the campaign.
But the electoral trends that put Donald J. Trump within striking distance of victory were clear long before Mr. Comey sent his letter. They were clear before WikiLeaks published hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee. They were even clear back in early July, before Mr. Comey excoriated Mrs. Clinton for using a private email server.
It was clear from the start that Mrs. Clinton was struggling to reassemble the Obama coalition.

I loved this election analysis by Nate Cohn which differs from some of the earlier post-election data. It is a good corolarry to this recent post: Team Bernie: Hillary ‘F*cking Ignored’ Us in Swing...
It shows that there were so many Trump voters who had voted for Obama plus others who were Bernie people. But it also shows that despite winning 92% of the black people who voted, the loss of black votes, particularly from the young, was a crippling factor in the battle ground states. I'm including the entire article but without the interesting graphics - so check it out on the Times site.
At every point of the race, Mr. Trump was doing better among white voters without a college degree than Mitt Romney did in 2012 — by a wide margin. Mrs. Clinton was also not matching Mr. Obama’s support among black voters.
This was the core of the Obama coalition: an alliance between black voters and Northern white voters, from Mr. Obama’s first win in the 2008 Iowa caucuses to his final sprint across the so-called Midwestern Firewall states where he staked his 2012 re-election bid.
In 2016, the Obama coalition crumbled and so did the Midwestern Firewall.

This spells bad news for the Democrats going forward. In the next session Nate Cohn shows how the Obama coalition didn't hold up - and really, how could it? Did we expect the same number of black people to vote for Hillary as voted for Obama?

The Obama Coalition Falters

The countryside of Iowa or the industrial belt along Lake Erie is not the sort of place that people envision when they think of the Obama coalition. Yet it was an important component of his victory.
Campaign lore has it that President Obama won thanks to a young, diverse, well-educated and metropolitan “coalition of the ascendant” — an emerging Democratic majority anchored in the new economy. Hispanic voters, in particular, were credited with Mr. Obama’s victory.
But Mr. Obama would have won re-election even if he hadn’t won the Hispanic vote at all. He would have won even if the electorate had been as old and as white as it had been in 2004.
Largely overlooked, his key support often came in the places where you would least expect it. He did better than John Kerry and Al Gore among white voters across the Northern United States, despite exit poll results to the contrary. Over all, 34 percent of Mr. Obama’s voters were whites without a college degree — larger in number than black voters, Hispanic voters or well-educated whites.
In most Northern states, white voters shifted left. In the South, the opposite happened.

Change in margin among white voters between 2004 and 2012

He excelled in a nearly continuous swath from the Pacific Coast of Oregon and Washington to the Red River Valley in Minnesota, along the Great Lakes to the coast of Maine. In these places, Mr. Obama often ran as strong or stronger than any Democrat in history.
In 2016, Mr. Trump made huge gains among white working-class voters. It wasn’t just in the places where Democratic strength had been eroding for a long time, like western Pennsylvania. It was often in the places where Democrats had seemed resilient or even strong, like Scranton, Pa., and eastern Iowa.

It was a decisive break from recent trends. White voters without college degrees, for the first time, deviated from the national trend and swung decidedly toward the Republicans. No bastion of white, working-class Democratic strength was immune to the trend.
For the first time in the history of the two parties, the Republican candidate did better among low-income whites than among affluent whites, according to exit poll data and a compilation of New York Times/CBS News surveys.
According to exit polls, Mr. Trump did better than Mr. Romney by 24 points among white voters without a degree making less than $30,000 a year. He won these voters by a margin of 62 to 30 percent, compared with Mr. Romney’s narrow win of 52 percent to 45 percent.
In general, exit poll data should be interpreted with caution — but pre-election polls show a similar swing, and the magnitude of the shifts most likely withstands any failings of the exit polls.
Mrs. Clinton’s profound weakness among Northern white working-class voters was not expected as recently as six months ago. She was thought to be fairly strong among the older white working-class voters who were skeptical of Mr. Obama from the start. Most of Mr. Obama’s strength among white voters without a degree was due to his gains among those under age 45.
But Mr. Trump expanded on Republican gains among older working-class white voters, according to Upshot estimates, while erasing most of Mr. Obama’s gains among younger Northern white voters without a degree.

Trump’s White Working-Class Surge Spans Age Groups

Donald J. Trump continued the trend of G.O.P. gains among older Northern white working-class voters and reversed President Obama’s gains among the young.
Margin of presidential vote for Democrats of Northern white voters without a college degree, by age

His gains among younger working-class whites were especially important in the Upper Midwest. Young white working-class voters represent a larger share of the vote there than anywhere else in the country. Mr. Obama’s strength among them — and Mrs. Clinton’s weakness — was evident from the beginning of the 2008 primaries.

It Wasn’t Turnout

Mr. Trump’s gains among white working-class voters weren’t simply caused by Democrats staying home on Election Day.
The Clinton team knew what was wrong from the start, according to a Clinton campaign staffer and other Democrats. Its models, based on survey data, indicated that they were underperforming Mr. Obama in less-educated white areas by a wide margin — perhaps 10 points or more — as early as the summer.
The campaign looked back to respondents who were contacted in 2012, and found a large number of white working-class voters who had backed Mr. Obama were now supporting Mr. Trump.
The same story was obvious in public polls of registered voters. Those polls aren’t affected by changes in turnout.
The best data on the effect of turnout will ultimately come from voter file data, which will include an individual-level account of who voted and who didn’t. Most of this data is only beginning to become available.
But the limited data that’s already available is consistent with the story evident in the pre-election polling: Turnout wasn’t the major factor driving shifts among white voters.
The voter-file data in North Carolina, where nearly all of the state’s jurisdictions have reported their vote, shows that the turnout among white Democrats and Republicans increased by almost the exact amount — about 2.5 percent. The same appears to be true in Florida.
Nationally, there is no relationship between the decline in Democratic strength and the change in turnout. Mr. Trump made gains in white working-class areas, whether turnout surged or dropped.
The exit polls also show all of the signs that Mr. Trump was winning over Obama voters. Perhaps most strikingly, Mr. Trump won 19 percent of white voters without a degree who approved of Mr. Obama’s performance, including 8 percent of those who “strongly” approved of Mr. Obama’s performance and 10 percent of white working-class voters who wanted to continue Mr. Obama’s policies.
Mr. Trump won 20 percent of self-identified liberal white working-class voters, according to the exit polls, and 38 percent of those who wanted policies that were more liberal than Mr. Obama’s.
It strongly suggests that Mr. Trump won over large numbers of white, working-class voters who supported Mr. Obama four years earlier.

The Obama-Trump Vote

The notion that Mr. Trump could win over so many people who voted for Mr. Obama and who still approved of his performance is hard to understand for people with ideologically consistent views on a traditional liberal-conservative spectrum. Mr. Trump, if anything, was Mr. Obama’s opposite.
But the two had the same winning pitch to white working-class voters.
Mr. Obama and his campaign team portrayed Mr. Romney as a plutocrat who dismantled companies and outsourced jobs. The implication was that he would leave middle-class jobs prey to globalization and corporations.
The proof of Mr. Obama’s commitment to the working class and Mr. Romney’s callousness, according to the Obama campaign, was the auto bailout: Mr. Obama protected the auto industry; Mr. Romney wrote “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” in The New York Times.
There was one place where Mr. Romney was able to effectively argue that he could protect the industrial economy and the people who worked in it: coal country. There he made big gains after the Obama administration pushed climate-change policies that would reduce the production and use of coal.
In retrospect, the scale of the Democratic collapse in coal country was a harbinger of just how far the Democrats would fall in their old strongholds once they forfeited the mantle of working-class interests.
Mr. Trump owned Mr. Obama’s winning message to autoworkers and Mr. Romney’s message to coal country. He didn’t merely run to protect the remnants of the industrial economy; he promised to restore it and “make America great again.”
Just as Mr. Obama’s team caricatured Mr. Romney, Mr. Trump caricatured Mrs. Clinton as a tool of Wall Street, bought by special interests. She, too, would leave workers vulnerable to the forces of globalization and big business, he said.
According to Mr. Trump’s campaign, the proof of his commitment to the working class wasn’t the auto bailout but the issue of trade: Mr. Trump said free trade was responsible for deindustrialization, and asserted that he would get tough on China, renegotiate Nafta and pull out of the trans-Pacific Partnership — two trade agreements that Mrs. Clinton supported or helped negotiate (she later rejected the trans-Pacific deal).
Like Mr. Obama, Mr. Trump ran against the establishment — and against a candidate who embodied it far more than John McCain or Mr. Romney did. The various allegations against Mrs. Clinton neatly complemented the notion that she wasn’t out to help ordinary Americans.
Taken together, Mr. Trump’s views on immigration, trade, China, crime, guns and Islam all had considerable appeal to white working-class Democratic voters, according to Pew Research data. It was a far more appealing message than old Republican messages about abortion, same-sex marriage and the social safety net.
None of this is to say that changes in turnout didn’t help Mr. Trump at all. It’s just not the reason he made such large gains among white working-class voters.
There was no relationship between the change in Democratic support and the change in turnout, or the change in turnout and Democratic strength.
But the Democrats did have a turnout problem in November. It wasn’t a broad Democratic turnout problem. It was a black turnout problem.

Black Turnout Fades

The turnout probably increased among all major groups of voters — Hispanics, white Democrats, white Republicans — except black voters.
The conclusive data is available in the Southern states where voters indicate their race on their voter registration forms, and they point toward a considerable decline in black turnout.

In Georgia, the black share of the electorate fell to 27.6 percent from 29.9 percent, and in Louisiana it fell to 28.5 percent from 30.1 percent, according to the completed state turnout data.

The data is not yet final in North Carolina, but the black share of the electorate looks unlikely to reach 21 percent of voters — down from 23 percent in 2012. The data is even less complete in Florida, but there too it appears that black turnout will fall by a similar amount — perhaps to 12.7 percent of voters from 14 percent.
In all of these states, the black share of the electorate is still poised to be higher than it was in 2004. It just wasn’t as high as it was with Mr. Obama at the top of the ticket.
Young black voters appear to be a key driver of the decline. They registered at a lower rate than they did ahead of the 2012 and 2008 presidential elections, causing the black share of registered voters to dip. And those who were registered turned out at a far lower rate than black registrants did four years ago.

Young Black Turnout Plummets

The change in black turnout between 2012 and 2016, by age. 

The data is not so authoritative elsewhere in the country, but it tells a similar story.
Turnout dropped by 8 percent in the majority black wards of Philadelphia, while rising everywhere else in the city.
The turnout in Detroit fell by 14 percent. Turnout fell in other industrial centers with a large black population, like Milwaukee and Flint, Mich. It’s hard to know just how much of this is lower black turnout instead of black population decline — the census can struggle to make population estimates in places with a declining population — but the turnout certainly dropped faster than the reported population decline.
Taken in totality, it appears that black turnout dropped somewhere between 5 percent and 10 percent — with few exceptions. It should be noted that the decline in black turnout appears very consistent across the country, regardless of whether states put in new laws that might reduce turnout, like those cutting early voting or requiring a photo ID.
Was the decline in black turnout enough to change the result of the election? It seems so. If black turnout had matched 2012 levels, Mrs. Clinton would have almost certainly scratched out wins in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Florida and North Carolina would have been extremely close.
But pinning Mrs. Clinton’s loss on low black turnout would probably be a mistake. Mr. Obama would have easily won both his elections with this level of black turnout and support. (He would have won Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin each time even if Detroit, Cleveland and Milwaukee had been severed from their states and cast adrift into the Great Lakes.)
Perhaps more important, the Clinton campaign’s models and public polls all assumed lower black turnout — and still showed Mrs. Clinton on track for victory.

The Clinton Coalition Fell Short

The Clinton campaign believed it could compensate for the loss of the Obama coalition by winning the so-called “rising American electorate” or “coalition of the ascendant” of well-educated voters and Hispanic voters — a caricature of the Obama coalition.
These demographic shifts have benefited Democrats over the last decade, but most of these gains have come in noncompetitive states.

Demographic Gains Concentrated in Noncompetitive States

Demographic shifts helped turn Nevada and Virginia blue in the last decade, but weren’t enough to flip Texas, Georgia or Arizona. 
Democratic gains (percentage point margin) because of demographic changes between 2004 and 2012.

This year, the exit polls again exaggerated the importance of well-educated and Hispanic voters. Last time, it was said that these voters won the election for Mr. Obama — and this time that they lost it for Mrs. Clinton.
According to the exit polls, Mrs. Clinton fared a tad worse among white voters — but much worse among Hispanic, Asian-American and black voters than Mr. Obama. And those polls said she didn’t win well-educated white voters, as many pre-election polls indicated.
But the preliminary Upshot analysis of voting returns, census and pre-election polling data suggests that Mrs. Clinton was stronger among well-educated white and nonwhite voters than the exit polls imply.
It is important to emphasize that these estimates are preliminary. They will change over the next few years with more data from the Census Bureau and additional polling. But it nonetheless paints an alternative picture that’s more consistent with the actual results, pre-election polls and the consensus of academics and campaign analysts on the electorate.
The Upshot estimates suggest that Mrs. Clinton really might have become the first Democrat to win white voters with a college degree (although it is very possible that Mr. Obama did so in 2008 as well).

Clinton May Have Won Well-Educated White Voters

Upshot estimates indicate that Hillary Clinton did better among well-educated white and among Hispanic voters than was reflected in the exit polls.
Upshot estimates of presidential vote choice by race and white educational attainment

Mrs. Clinton’s gains were concentrated among the most affluent and best-educated white voters, much as Mr. Trump’s gains were concentrated among the lowest-income and least-educated white voters.

White Voters by Education

Whites without high school degrees and those with postgraduate educations moved in drastically different directions.

She gained 17 points among white postgraduates, according to Upshot estimates, but just four points among whites with a bachelor’s degree.
There was a similar pattern by income. Over all, she picked up 24 points among white voters with a degree making more than $250,000, according to the exit polls, while she made only slight gains among those making less than $100,000 per year.

These gains helped her win huge margins in the most well-educated and prosperous liberal bastions of the new economy, like Manhattan, Silicon Valley, Washington, Seattle, Chicago and Boston. There, Mrs. Clinton ran up huge margins in traditionally liberal enclaves and stamped out nearly every last wealthy precinct that supported the Republicans.
Scarsdale, N.Y., voted for Mrs. Clinton by 57 points, up from Mr. Obama’s 18-point win. You could drive a full 30 miles through the leafy suburbs northwest of Boston before reaching a town where Mr. Trump hit 20 percent of the vote. She won the affluent east-side suburbs of Seattle, like Mercer Island, Bellevue and Issaquah, by around 50 points — doubling Mr. Obama’s victory.
Every old-money Republican enclave of western Connecticut, like Darien and Greenwich, voted for Mrs. Clinton, in some cases swinging 30 points in her direction. Every precinct of Winnetka and Glencoe, Ill., went to Mrs. Clinton as well.

Her gains were nearly as impressive in affluent Republican suburbs, like those edging west of Kansas City, Mo., and Houston; north of Atlanta, Dallas and Columbus, Ohio; or south of Charlotte, N.C., and Los Angeles in Orange County. Mrs. Clinton didn’t always win these affluent Republican enclaves, but she made big gains.
But the narrowness of Mrs. Clinton’s gains among well-educated voters helped to concentrate her support in the coasts and the prosperous but safely Republican Sun Belt. It left her short in middle-class, battleground-state suburbs, like those around Philadelphia, Detroit and Tampa, Fla., where far fewer workers have a postgraduate degree, make more than $100,000 per year or work in finance, science or technology.
A similar divide may have helped obscure whether Mrs. Clinton improved among Hispanic voters, a question addressed in depth by Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight.
Mrs. Clinton was expected to excel among Hispanic voters, because of Mr. Trump’s proposals to deport undocumented workers, his plans to build a wall along the Southern border and his inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants. The pre-election polls generally showed Mrs. Clinton poised to make good on that possibility.
But the exit polls show a marked decrease in Democratic strength, with Mrs. Clinton winning just 66 percent of the Hispanic vote, down from Mr. Obama’s 71 percent in 2012. Mrs. Clinton plainly fared worse than Mr. Obama in many heavily Hispanic areas — like South Texas or South Colorado.
Our estimates suggest that Mrs. Clinton did about the same as Mr. Obama among Hispanic voters over all. The estimates hint at a potential explanation for the results in some heavily Hispanic areas: Mrs. Clinton may have faltered among Hispanic voters without a high school degree, while making gains among those with some college education or better.

Nationwide, Mrs. Clinton’s success in reviving the elements in the caricature version of the Obama coalition really did let her compensate for losses among black voters and working-class whites. She won the popular vote.

But it did not do nearly enough good in the decisive battleground states.

1 comment:

  1. Or it could be that President Obama's initiatives were not too popular (irrespective of his personal approval ratings) in the mainstream and Hillary's embrace of the initiatives (Healthcare, Iran Nuclear Deal, etc) did not help her. She got lukewarm support of lukewarmly supported initiatives without the Obama charisma...a losing proposition.


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