Understanding this election

By Isaac Simon

Students gather in the Student Union Cape Cod Lounge to watch the election results. Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)
Students gather in the Student Union Cape Cod Lounge to watch the election results. (Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

The circus that we called this election cycle came to an unbelievable conclusion early on Wednesday morning. Here’s how Donald Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton happened.

Key swing states, such as Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania, all of which were captured by Obama in 2008 and 2012, were captured by Trump. The fact that all these states were flipped and went Republican speaks volumes about the current state of the electorate.

Pennsylvania, the swing state that Clinton was most expected to win, ended up being one of the final states that she lost by 1.08 percent. Pennsylvania has historically been called ‘Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between’. With the exception of Centre County, last night’s results showed that to be true.

Before I go further, I think looking at how Trump did this year in relation to how Mitt Romney did in 2012 is interesting, if not more interesting, than how he did against Hillary Clinton this election cycle.

Romney lost Florida by about one percentage point four years ago. Interestingly enough, voter turnout for the state this year wasn’t much different than in 2012. Rather, it wasn’t who voted but how they voted. Last Tuesday, it came down to the middle of the state, where Polk, Lake and Highland Counties were quick to solidify for Trump. Saint Lucie and Monroe County, areas that went blue in 2012, switched to Trump this election cycle.

As for Ohio, Trump swept all the counties surrounding Columbus, something Romney failed to do. Romney lost Ohio by about two percentage points, but Trump won the state by over eight points.

Even though there were many surprises, there were also some obvious electoral outcomes all Americans anticipated. Texas, for all its excitement, was going to go to Trump, even though the Dallas Morning News endorsed the Democratic nominee, something the paper hadn’t done in 76 years. The heart of Middle America, the Bible Belt and the Northwest were all places where sound Trump victories took place.

Clinton was expected to win Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. She only won Minnesota. Virtually all of southwestern Wisconsin, an area that voted for Obama in 2012, went solidly for Trump. Romney lost Iowa by six points, but Trump won the state by nine.

Trump really came to solidify his win over Clinton through the unprecedented support from whites who lacked a college degree. Whether it be in the Midwest or in Florida, Clinton failed to capture the white vote, despite her victory in the popular vote. Trump swept most rural areas.

Although Clinton succeeding in capturing Virginia, a state that was a key step towards her nomination, it no longer mattered. Obama won North Carolina in 2008, Romney took it in 2012 and Trump followed suit in 2016.

What does this all mean? It means that the man who was number one from the beginning of the Republican Primary, whether it be in primary polls or polls amongst likely voters, remained at number one. He soundly defeated the establishment Republicans within his party, such as Cruz, Rubio and Bush. He has said almost everything and done nothing. There is nothing more that can be said about this man and yet this is only the beginning of us getting to know him.

But one thing is certain. Going forward, and this is something that applies to so much more than a presidential election, we should be wary of polls. All polls, not just some.

Whether they are from Fivethirtyeight, The New York Times, CNN or the Wall Street Journal, all of these outlets determined Clinton would be victorious. The fact that they were all wrong means one of two things. Either they failed to do their job correctly, or the masses who partook in these polls failed to speak truthfully. It could be that tens of millions of Americans were too embarrassed or ashamed to answer questions accurately, therefore reinforcing the importance and the sanctity of the private ballot. These are questions we don’t have answers to.

But the fact that a man who was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, and who talks proudly about not paying taxes, screwing over workers and never changing a diaper, will be the 45th President of the United States is something I have yet to wrap my head around.

But it solidifies the truth that everything that I thought mattered, like the issues, never actually mattered. George Bush can now safely float on into the sunset completing paint-by-numbers on his ranch in Texas, and the success of the Obama administration will soon be forgotten. Everyone got this election wrong. The masses have spoken and they have chosen Trump.

Isaac Simon is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]