On the morning of November 8th, a majority of scientific polls showed Hillary Clinton far ahead of Donald Trump and set to win the presidency
This, evidently, was clearly far from the truth.
The actual results, as we know, were shocking. Though it has been compared, this is not a repeat of the Dewey-Truman presidential election upset in 1948, where polls favoured Dewey heavily. The polls then were highly unscientific in their sampling processes. The polls today were scientific, so what went wrong?
Filmmaker Michael Moore predicted this. Moore grew up in the “Rust Belt” of America – the Great Lakes states – traditionally a blue strong hold. States like Wisconsin and Michigan weren’t considered swing states. Moore warned these states might go for Donald Trump, even though the polls denied it. He argued the people of these states – particularly Michigan – felt they had nothing to lose, and did not trust politicians.
These people saw Trump as a bomb to send into Washington and shake things up. All of Clinton’s avenues to the White House assumed Michigan and Wisconsin were hers, however, people are inherently unpredictable.
The minority voters in these states – particularly in Flint and Detroit – simply were not turning out in the numbers seen with Obama’s elections, and the numbers Clinton needed. In Florida the Latino vote that Clinton campaigned so hard for did not deliver as high as needed either. Though minorities overwhelming voted for Clinton, the voter turnout was not as high as she needed.
However, 2016 marks the first election since the Supreme Court repealed the Voting Rights Act.
In North Carolina particularly, a state polled to go for Clinton, it is speculated the repeal of the Voting Rights Act may have been a cause of lower minority turnout. The Supreme Court found in the summer of 2016 North Carolina had been enacting laws that “almost surgically” targeted repression of black voters, and would have been illegal had the Voting Rights Act still been in place. Exit poll data showed that nationwide Trump won the white vote in both sexes, and almost all ages and education levels.
Madeleine Sheehan is an in-house Social Politics Correspondent and Sociologist based in San Fransisco, USA.
All opinions within the content are owned by Madeleine Sheehan.