Breaking down the results of the 2016 US presidential election (part one)

Breaking down the results of the 2016 US presidential election (part one)

Having spent a great deal of effort in (accurately) predicting what would happen in the 2016 US presidential election, it seems appropriate that, now that we have the final numbers for said election, I should also break down those numbers, and explain to you what actually happened, and why.

As with my prediction, you will find next to nothing in what follows about day-to-day issues, such as the Clinton email investigation, or supposed Russian hax0rs. The reason for this is simple: they’re not that important. Trends across a group of voters, especially one as large as in an American presidential election, do a good job at preventing minor and last-minute issues from seriously impacting the result. Hopefully this will become clear to you as we go through the numbers.

In this introductory first part, we will be looking at the raw numbers and party trends. Regions are divided in accordance with the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

State tallies

Alabama (R-R)
D – 729,547 (-66,149); R – 1,318,255 (+62,330); O – 75,570 (+52,823)

Alaska (R-R)
D – 116,454 (-6,186); R – 163,387 (-1,289); O – 38,767 (+25,588)

Arizona (R-R)
D – 1,161,167 (+135,935); R – 1,252,401 (+18,747); O – 159,597 (+119,229)

Arkansas (R-R):
D – 380,494 (-13,915); R – 684,872 (+37,128); O – 65,269 (+37,954)

California (D-D)
D – 8,753,788 (+899,503); R – 4,483,810 (-356,148); O – 943,997 (+599,693)

Colorado (D-D):
D – 1,338,870 (+15,768); R – 1,202,484 (+17,241); O – 238,866 (+177,690)

Connecticut (D-D):
D – 897,572 (-7,511); R – 673,215 (+38,323); O – 74,133 (+55,148)

Delaware (D-D):
D – 235,603 (-6,981); R – 185,127 (+19,643); O – 20,860 (+15,007)

District of Columbia (D-D):
D – 282,830 (+15,760); R – 12,723 (-8,658); O – 15,715 (+10,402)

Florida (D-R):
D – 4,504,975 (+267,219); R – 4,617,886 (+454,439); O – 297,178 (+224,202)

Georgia (R-R):
D – 1,877,963 (+104,136); R – 2,089,104 (+10,416); O – 147,665 (+100,130)

Hawaii (D-D):
D – 266,891 (-39,767); R – 128,847 (+7,832); O – 33,199 (+26,175)

Idaho (R-R):
D – 189,765 (-23,022); R – 409,055 (-11,856); O – 91,435 (+72,859)

Illinois (D-D):
D – 3,090,729 (+71,217); R – 2,146,015 (+10,799); O – 299,680 (+212,394)

Indiana (R-R):
D – 1,033,126 (-119,761); R – 1,557,286 (+136,743); O – 144,546 (+93,442)

Iowa (D-R):
D – 653,669 (-168,875); R – 800,983 (+70,366); O – 111,379 (+82,360)

Kansas (R-R):
D – 427,005 (-13,271); R – 671,018 (-21,616); O – 86,379 (+59,768)

Kentucky (R-R):
D – 628,854 (-50,516); R – 1,202,971 (+115,781); O – 92,324 (+61,672)

Louisiana (R-R):
D – 780,154 (-28,987); R – 1,178,638 (+26,376); O – 70,240 (+37,578)

Maine (D-D/R):
D – 357,735 (-43,571); R – 335,593 (+43,317); O – 54,599 (+35,001)

Maryland (D-D):
D – 1,677,928 (+84); R – 943,169 (-28,700); O – 160,349 (+102,735)

Massachusetts (D-D):
D – 1,995,196 (+73,906); R – 1,090,893 (-97,421); O – 238,956 (+180,793)

Michigan (D-R):
D – 2,268,839 (-295,730); R – 2,279,543 (+164,287); O – 250,902 (+199,766)

Minnesota (D-D):
D – 1,367,716 (-178,451); R – 1,322,951 (+12,726); O – 254,146 (+183,977)

Mississippi (R-R):
D – 485,131 (-77,818); R – 700,714 (-10,032); O – 23,512 (+11,623)

Missouri (R-R):
D – 1,071,068 (-152,728); R – 1,594,511 (+112,071); O – 143,026 (+91,939)

Montana (R-R):
D – 177,709 (-24,130); R – 279,240 (+11,312); O – 40,198 (+25,917)

Nebraska (R-R):
D – 284,494 (-17,587); R – 495,561 (+20,897); O – 63,772 (+46,538)

Nevada (D-D):
D – 539,260 (+7,887); R – 512,058 (+48,491); O – 74,067 (+54,089)

New Hampshire (D-D):
D – 348,526 (-21,035); R – 345,790 (+15,872); O – 49,980 (+38,487)

New Jersey (D-D):
D – 2,148,278 (+23,177); R – 1,601,933 (+124,365); O – 123,835 (+86,212)

New Mexico (D-D):
D – 385,234 (-30,101); R – 319,667 (-16,121); O – 93,418 (+60,783)

New York (D-D):
D – 4,547,562 (+61,821); R – 2,814,589 (+324,158); O – 296,865 (+191,608)

North Carolina (R-R):
D – 2,189,316 (+10,925); R – 2,362,631 (+92,236); O – 189,617 (+133,031)

North Dakota (R-R):
D – 93,758 (-31,069); R – 216,794 (+28,631); O – 33,808 (+24,171)

Ohio (D-R):
D – 2,394,164 (-433,545); R – 2,841,005 (+179,568); O – 261,318 (+169,617)

Oklahoma (R-R):
D – 420,375 (-23,172); R – 949,136 (+57,811); O – 83,841 (+83,841)

Oregon (D-D):
D – 1,002,106 (+31,618); R – 782,403 (+28,228); O – 216,827 (+152,220)

Pennsylvania (D-R):
D – 2,926,441 (-63,833); R – 2,970,733 (+290,299); O – 218,228 (+135,266)

Rhode Island (D-D):
D – 252,525 (-27,152); R – 180,543 (+23,339); O – 31,076 (+21,908)

South Carolina (R-R):
D – 855,373 (-10,568); R – 1,155,389 (+83,744); O – 92,265 (+65,733)

South Dakota (R-R):
D – 117,458 (-27,581); R – 227,721 (+17,111); O – 24,914 (+16,748)

Tennessee (R-R):
D – 870,695 (-90,014); R – 1,522,925 (+70,595); O – 114,407 (+78,869)

Texas (R-R):
D – 3,877,868 (+569,744); R – 4,685,047 (+115,204); O – 406,311 (+290,427)

Utah (R-R):
D – 310,674 (+58,861); R – 515,211 (-225,389); O – 292,731 (+267,704)

Vermont (D-D):
D – 178,573 (-20,666); R – 95,369 (+2,671); O – 41,125 (+33,772)

Virginia (D-D):
D – 1,981,473 (+9,653); R – 1,769,443 (-53,079); O – 231,836 (+171,689)

Washington (D-D):
D – 1,742,718 (-12,678); R – 1,221,747 (-68,923); O – 244,749 (+165,299)

West Virginia (R-R):
D – 188,794 (-49,475); R – 489,371 (+71,716); O – 34,886 (+20,372)

Wisconsin (D-R):
D – 1,382,536 (-238,449); R – 1,405,284 (-2,682); O – 188,330 (+148,847)

Wyoming (R-R):
D – 55,973 (-13,313); R – 174,419 (+3,457); O – 25,457 (+16,644)

Total
D – 65,844,954 (+70,841); R – 62,979,879 (+2,046,375); O – 8,229,083 (+5,992,973)

Regional tallies

If each state was forced to vote with its region, this would be the result

Far West:
D – 12,421,217 (+880,377); R – 7,292,252 (-341,809); O – 1,551,606 (+1,023,064)

Great Lakes:
D – 10,169,394 (-1,016,268); R – 10,229,133 (+488,715); O – 1,144,776 (+824,066)

Mideast:
D – 11,818,642 (+30,028); R – 8,528,274 (+721,107); O – 835,852 (+541,230)

New England:
D – 4,030,127 (-46,029); R – 2,721,403 (+26,101); O – 489,869 (+365,109)

Plains:
D – 4,015,168 (-589,562); R – 5,329,539 (+240,186); O – 717,424 (+505,501)

Rocky Mountains:
D – 2,072,991 (+14,164); R – 2,580,409 (-205,235); O – 688,687 (+560,814)

Southeast:
D – 15,472,769 (+4,491); R – 19,092,199 (+961,650); O – 1,434,769 (+995,676)

Southwest:
D – 5,844,644 (+652,406); R – 7,206,251 (+175,641); O – 743,167 (+554,280)

Trends

Each of these groups – the Democrats, the Republicans and the ‘others’ – have a trend worth addressing, as well as some other overall trends. We’ll start with the Democrats.

The Democrats lost votes where it mattered and gained votes where it didn’t

If you had told a Democratic party operative before the election that Hillary Clinton would get basically the same number of votes of Barack Obama, they would probably be pretty pleased. After all, pundit after pundit, expert after expert, staffer after staffer all said the same thing: the ‘firewall’ of states Obama held would take a lot of beating. Surely, if Clinton got the same amount votes as Obama, there would be no way Donald Trump would be breaking that wall down?

But while the overall D figure is similar to 2012, the equation to make that sum is markedly different. Clinton managed to get an additional 900,000 votes in California, a state that already had one of the highest blue-to-red margins in the country. She also got an additional 570,000 votes in Texas, which was nowhere near enough to overcome the enormous lead the Republicans had there.

The problem for Clinton was that, in order for the equation to work out to evens, the extra 1.5 million votes she got in California and Texas (for a return of 0 electoral votes), she then lost in the Great Lakes and Plains regions (for a loss of 50 electoral votes, along with a near loss in Minnesota, which would’ve been another 10 EVs). That is an election-losing return.

The scale of the vote loss in the Great Lakes region should be of particular concern. The existence of Chicago was the only thing that kept the Dem vote on par with the GOP, as it meant resulted in a margin of 1 million votes in Illinois. Losing 240,000 votes in Wisconsin, 300,000 in Michigan and a whopping 430,000 in Ohio is indicative of a voter base disappearing. Where exactly those votes went is an issue I will address in parts two and three.

The drop in the Democratic vote was not matched by a rise in the Republican vote

This may seem like an odd conclusion given the Democrats gained votes from 2012, and the Republicans ended up with an extra 2 million, but I’m not talking about the overall figures. I’m talking about the state-by-state and regional results, which are more worthwhile comparisons.

Instinctively, we think that if a state or seat flips from one party to another, then it must be because the party that lost last time gained votes this time around, and vice versa for the party that won last time. This was not the case. Trump did make gains on Romney’s vote in a number of states, but the largest proportion of those were states in which the drop in Clinton’s vote was greater than the rise in Trump’s vote. States in which the GOP vote rose in equal or greater numbers than the drop in Democrat vote are as follows: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisana, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and West Virginia.

One and a half (PA and ME-2) of those states switched from Democrat to Republican. The remainder are solidly one or the other. Now, does this mean that Trump’s ‘movement’ was not so strong as it seemed? Not necessarily. But it doesn’t not mean that either. We will need to look at the states that flipped to see where his votes came from, and where Clinton’s disappeared from, to understand what happened.

Third parties got large boosts across the board

Even I underestimated just how popular third-party candidates – or perhaps how unpopular Trump and Clinton – would be. I said in my preview that “it will be surprising if [Johnson or Stein] gets more than 2% of the overall vote.” While Jill Stein did not, managing just over 1%, Gary Johnson managed to get more than 3%. Third-party vote rose in every state and region, and in most states it more than doubled from 2012. It is worth examining, though, if these votes came equally across the board, or whether they did much better in some counties than others.

Overall turnout only increased significantly in big states

Even though overall turnout was up (both in raw numbers, and as a percentage of the electoral roll), the states with the greatest turnout increase were the big ones: California, Texas, New York and Florida. Turnout in the states that flipped (other than Florida) wasn’t impressive. It dropped in Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin and increased marginally in Michigan and Pennsylvania. This is really just a re-stating of what was mentioned above, with regards to the Republican rise not matching the Democratic drop, but with the addition that the rise in third-party vote does not fully account for the shift in voter sentiment.

It is not enough for us to simply try to take a bird’s-eye view of the vote, so in part two we will try to get some answers to the questions that have been raised, but looking at the states that mattered, county-by-county.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *