First, the numbers. Despite Trump’s overt sexism and racism, he managed to win over many women and Latinos. White women, for example, voted for Trump over Clinton by a ten-point margin, according to CNN’s exit polling. Depending on which exit poll you believe, Trump may also have won anywhere from 19 percentto an astonishing 29 percent of the Latino vote, despite his virulently anti-Latino rhetoric. Clinton’s supposed bulwark among college-educated voters also failed: White college graduates backed Trump by a 4-point margin, including 45 percent of college-educated white women.
It shouldn’t surprise us that women voted for Trump as strongly as they did: White women also voted for Romney and McCain by similar margins. But Clinton also underperformed Obama’s 2012 showing among Latino women by eight points. Clinton’s gender-based appeal not only backfired among men, but fell flat among many women. In 2016, the suburban, mostly white women Clinton tried hard to court seemingly made their decisions based on other factors.
And race? Per The New York Times’s exit poll, Trump outperformed Mitt Romney among all racial groups surveyed. Most shockingly, Trump gained fewer percentage points among whites than among other blocs of voters. Trump won only 1 percent more white voters than Romney, but bested him by 7 points among blacks, 8 points among Latinos, and 11 points among Asian Americans. These are not the numbers you would expect from a win driven primarily by white supremacist backlash.
The electoral data also debunk the notion of a purely bigotry-based backlash. Trump won the Rust Belt, and with it the presidency, by carrying huge swaths of rural and small-town America whose voters had twice cast ballots for Barack Hussein Obama. The prevailing theory that Obama’s eight-year presidency generated a racist backlash doesn’t hold up, given that the same white voters who twice elected him this year abandoned Hilary Clinton. …
Rather, the most telling number this year was voter income—and yes, economic anxiety. Partly because of their support from minority voters disadvantaged by institutionalized racism, Democrats do still win overall with low-income voters. But the key lies in the difference between 2016 and 2012: Trump did better with this bloc than Romney had in 2012. Despite several unconvincing and contorted analyses suggesting that Trump’s voters did not suffer from economic hardship, in the end Trump enjoyed a 16-point advantage over Romney among those earning less than $30,000 a year. He also performed 8 points better than Romney among those making $30,000 to $50,000 annually. Clinton, by contrast, performed better among wealthier voters than Obama had, with those in the $100,000- to $200,000-a-year income bracket shifting 9 points in her direction. …
Trump received 1.2 million fewer votes than Mitt Romney and 300,000 less than John McCain, but Clinton received a full 10 million fewer votes than Obama had in 2008. Nor can that be blamed on Jill Stein or Bernie Sanders supporters, as Democratic turnout appears to have suffered across the board, including among such core Democratic constituencies as African Americans. We’ll save speculation on why for another day, but the downturn can hardly be blamed on bigoted backlash.
Trump May Be Sexist and Racist, But That’s Not the Only Reason He Won