Not That Unpopular…
In his letter in the June 19/26 issue of The Nation, Michael Ferber correctly points out that “there were other reasons Trump won the election besides Russian meddling.” But then he adds this snarky comment: “not least that his opponent was so roundly and rightly disliked.”
Well, sure, Hillary Clinton wasn’t the perfect candidate, but she did win almost 3 million more votes than Trump, which unmasks Ferber’s comment as hyperbole and, might I add, “fake news.” Clinton won 65.85 million votes compared with 62.98 million for Trump. She lost the presidency because of low turnout by Democratic-leaning voters (exacerbated by GOP-sponsored voter suppression), and the votes for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, in three states: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Trump eked out victories in those states of 0.3, 0.7, and 0.7 percentage points, respectively; that’s 10,704, 44,292, and 22,748 votes in each state, or a total of 77,744 votes. Those three wins gave him 46 Electoral College votes, enough for a majority.
If Clinton had done one point better in each state, she’d have won the Electoral College vote. In Wisconsin, for example, Trump beat Clinton by a mere 22,748 votes out of more than 2.9 million votes cast. Statewide, Trump received about the same number of votes as Mitt Romney in 2012, but Clinton received almost 240,000 fewer votes than Obama did in 2012.
The statewide decline in voter turnout was particularly devastating in Democratic strongholds. In 2011, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the Republican State Legislature adopted tougher voter-registration laws, including a requirement that voters provide a photo ID. This election-law change had a chilling effect in Milwaukee, the state’s largest city, which has a large African-American and low-income population. According to Neil Albrecht, the Milwaukee Election Commission’s executive director, voter turnout there declined by 41,000 people between 2012 and 2016, with some of the greatest drop-off coming in districts with “transient, high-poverty” residents. Voter-watchdog groups also said that Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles officials gave incorrect information to people seeking to obtain a photo ID. Moreover, in all three states, Stein won more votes than Trump’s margin of victory over Clinton. Had most of Stein’s supporters voted for Clinton, she would have won enough Electoral College votes to win the White House.