Here we are sitting on the other side of November 8th—on the other side of a tomorrow I, for the longest time, couldn't imagine a majority of this nation actually actively wanted—sifting through the carcass of the election. Blame Facebook, blame the media, blame the Democratic party, blame the courts, blame white people, go ahead and blame every fucking thing and everybody except yourself. But let's be clear about one thing: a majority of the nation did not want this and did not vote for this. There is no mandate when the loser in the race wins the popular vote.
According to the NY Times, as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, Clinton has 47.7 percent of the vote, for a total of 59,731,599 votes; Trump has 47.5 percent, for a total of 59,513,953 votes. Clinton pulls out 216,753 votes ahead. For some comparison, via the last closest election in 2000, Al Gore took 48.7 percent of the popular vote with 50,999,897 votes, while eventual president George W. Bush took in 47.9 percent with 50,456,002 votes.
Those were slim voting margins in both cases (even if the Electoral College map was not as close this time as it was in 2000). Considering how tight some of the races were this election, especially in Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and Pennsylvania, there is some validity to blaming third party voters for backing the likes of Jill Stein and Gary Johnson—according to exit polls, nine percent of voters between 18 and 29 voted for one of the fringe candidates (Rachel Maddow has some strong feelings about that). And you could argue that the Electoral College system needs to be replaced yesterday (this is undoubtedly true). George Takei agrees:
This is the 2nd election in recent memory where the popular vote winner is not the one elected. It's time to end the electoral college.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) November 9, 2016
And so does 2012 Donald Trump:
The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2012
But the most glaring thing that I can't fathom are all the eligible voters who refused to participate in voting. According to Statistic Brain, the numbers around this year's election went as so:
- Total number of Americans eligible to vote in 2016: 218,959,000
- Total number of Americans registered to vote in 2016: 146,311,000
- Total number of votes cast in 2016: 128,843,000
- Total number of Americans who voted in the 2012 Presidential election: 126,144,000
Just to make this point extra clear: that means there were over 72 million Americans who were not registered to vote, and over 17 million Americans who were registered but chose not to vote (for a cumulative total of 90,116,000 eligible Americans who didn't vote).
Fighting voter suppression and gerrymandering at local levels is an important step, but sifting through the data of top reasons cited for not voting, the largest number, 17.5 percent, blamed it on "conflicting schedule"—the kind of problem that could easily be solved if we turned Election Day into a national holiday, and not something people have to fit into their day at 7 a.m. give-or-take unreasonably long lines and broken scanners. The second highest percent? Nearly 15 percent blamed not voting on "illness or disability," which seems like another area that could be dealt with at local levels with the right amount of foresight.
There is then the more difficult issue of voter apathy with the next two excuses given: 13.4 percent said they were "not interested" and another 12.9 percent said they "did not like candidates or campaign issues." Convincing people that it matters to participate in a democratic election—especially because of the far-reaching consequences for groups of people you may or may not be a part of, rather than because of base self-interest—seems a much harder reach right now, celebrity campaigns be damned. If you're not going to listen to Iron Man, are you going to listen to a teacher or boss or media pundit?
[Whispers into the void, then runs away: what if voting were mandatory? Would that be such a bad idea?]
Other interesting takeaways from the election data: Clinton, unsurprisingly, crushed NYC. She got nearly two million more votes than Trump in the five boroughs, winning 86 percent of the vote in Manhattan, 79 percent of the vote in Brooklyn, 75 percent in Queens, 88 percent in the Bronx and 40 percent on Staten Island. Trump will become the first president who is loathed in his hometown.
Here's a snapshot of New York via NPR:
Based on the exit polls, Trump had a few key advantages that no one saw coming: it was already projected that he would overwhelmingly take the vote of white people without college degrees, but he also won white women by 10 points—he barely lost any ground with women overall, only losing white college-educated women by about six points.
— David Beard (@dabeard) November 9, 2016
He also remarkably did a lot better with Latino voters than Mitt Romney did four years ago (while Clinton did not get the groundswell of support she expected):
— Martin Daubney (@MartinDaubney) November 9, 2016
And as NY Mag reported, "while the most economically vulnerable people in America voted against Trump by a wider margin than any other income bracket, they nonetheless gave him markedly more support than they did any other recent Republican nominee."
— Malachy Browne (@malachybrowne) November 9, 2016