Thursday, November 10, 2016
I certainly didn't see that coming. I woke up around 6:30 am hoping to see the election had been called early. There is a seven hour difference between New York and Vilnius. I was stunned to see Trump leading in key blue states that I thought safe, with close to 90 per cent of the precincts reporting. The last gasp came around 8 am when CNN called Pennsylvania for Trump, giving him the victory.
My first reaction was that there was something seriously wrong with the polling if Trump could not only take Pennsylvania but Wisconsin and Michigan too. The "blue firewall" had been crushed. How could this be? Michael Moore called it months ago, making him the top election guru of the day. Nate Silver, like many others, had missed it badly, although he was more bullish in only giving Hillary a 70 per cent chance of winning on election day.
Moore had done some number crunching and felt that Michigan voters were with Trump based on the primaries. One figures the higher Republican numbers mostly had to do with the GOP race being much more entertaining than the Democratic one, but Moore felt that Michiganders were abandoning the Democratic party in droves and that they wouldn't turn out for Hillary in the general election. It was close -- 12,000 votes -- and still pending absentee ballots being counted, but it represents a stunning blow to the once formidable Democratic hold on the upper Midwest. Obama took Michigan by over 200,000 votes in 2012.
What I don't get is what turned Michiganders off to the Democratic Party? The situation was much worse in 2012 than it is today, and you would think the Midwesterners would stick with a Democrat, but Moore saw NAFTA as the underlying cause (repeatedly drummed in their heads by Trump) blaming this for the loss of auto industry jobs. Fact of the matter, Michigan has been bleeding jobs ever since the 1960s. Moore came to fame with his 1989 documentary Roger and Me, showing how the closure of auto plants in Flint had left his hometown an empty shell with families resorting to raising rabbits to make ends meet. Why all this angst over NAFTA, which was a product of Republican group think, not Bill Clinton, although he signed off on the bill in 1994.
It seems Hillary was guilty by association, as she is so many things. Moore noted how hugely unpopular she is, but again why? I have a hard time buying Moore's Iraq War excuse because John Kerry voted for the war too, and he won Michigan in 2004. I think it had more to do with the faux scandals which the news media ran unremittingly throughout the election cycle, feeding into the image of Hillary as a corrupt insider.
His last point is perhaps the most accurate. Michiganders, like other Upper Midwesterners, decided to be mischievous and vote for a spoiler, like Minnesota did with Jesse "the Body" Ventura back in 1999. No one saw that one coming either, but Jesse at least had a heart. Trump is a misanthrope, who has demeaned virtually everyone at one time or another on the campaign trail.
Ultimately, Moore's arguments ring hollow. What really seems to have caused the surprising turnaround is the voter suppression that has occurred in Midwest states, particularly Wisconsin. Ari Berman estimates that as many as 300,000 votes may have been lost due to an unconstitutional voter ID law, which Scott Walker refused to rescind despite a court order to do so. Michigan also has a photo ID law, although not as strictly enforced as the one in Wisconsin.
What we feared most actually happened, all these attempts to stifle voting throughout the country has played out and Donald Trump is the benefactor. There were 7 million less votes cast for the top two candidates than there were in 2012. Just the same, Hillary won the popular vote by a little more than 200,000. Unfortunately, those votes came in the wrong states. Despite all the claims of a huge groundswell for Trump, he ended up with less overall votes than Mitt Romney.
Many persons took to the street to proclaim that Trump is "not my president." Some protests turned violent, notably in Seattle where gunshots were fired. The anger is fierce but ultimately Democrats have only themselves to blame for not holding their nose and voting for their nominee. Now, we are forced to come to terms with President Donald J. Trump, the reality show that never ends.