The US Election from Across the Pacific

I have refrained from much comment on the 2016 US election (Apart from this little thought bubble on demagoguery and this testament to democratic politics).

I have done so because, first of all, I am an Australian. Whilst US politics invariably impacts Australia, I’m not going to sit here to tell any of my American friends how to vote, nor berate them for not voting in our interests (whatever that is), because that is arrogant and rude. Second, because my instinct, as I have gotten older and wiser, is to wait and see. Verbal diarrhea doesn’t do anyone much good, especially in the amplified internet silos.

So I’ve waited, I’ve watched. I’m trying my best to do the very thing that a lot of people seem to have forgotten how to do: Listen. Listen carefully, even to people I disagree with.

I have found some fascinating data that I want to share with you that I think are key to understanding (at least partly) why Donald J. Trump is the President-Elect of the United States of America.

This is the first bit of data I want to share with you: Voter Turnout as illustrated by this graph of total votes for each candidate from 2008-2016.

USelection16VoterTurnout.jpg

Notice the shrinking number of votes cast for Democrat candidates over the last eight years? The ‘amazing’ Get-Out-The-Vote campaign that served the Democrats so well the last two elections has clearly failed. Those missing voters who voted for Obama twice DID NOT TO TURN UP TO VOTE FOR EITHER CANDIDATE. This to me, says Hilary Clinton was the wrong choice to offer Democrat Voters and they have made that clear. The Republican numbers are also down slightly, but we don’t see a corresponding spike to compensate for the fall of Democrat votes, which, again reinforces that the Democrat voters who put Obama in office, did not turn up for Clinton and did not vote for Trump. A minority may have voted for a third party.

The 2016 numbers are still to completely counted. America’s quirky federated state system means that each state counts its own votes and has individual rules about late votes and what not. Votes, in California are still being counted, for example. If I find better numbers, I will update this post as the totals are finalised over the next month.

If you want to see a continued updating count, because you’re a nerd like me, go here.

Exactly who are the missing Democrat voters are will come to light as the statistics are further analysed.

The second image I want to share with you is a map. I saw the map on the left-hand side months ago thanks to this article (warning: blunt language and swear words). I found the updated version last night.

uselection16countycomparison

This is the Democrat/Republican vote when broken down by county rather than State. Source: Mark Newman, University of Michigan 2012 and 2016

Notice the blue Democrat islands among a sea of red, and how the blue has shrunk further in 2016? Keep in mind, those blue islands are predominately densely populated cities, where as many of those Republican counties are sparsely populated and declining rural counties. Notice how Michigan, that little thumb sticking up, that state that ‘went red for the first time’ has been far redder for a long time, but still turned out to overall vote Democrat thanks to urban centers like Detroit and Lansing.

If you still believe that this election has nothing to do with class, I encourage you to contemplate these images. Go check out the source links in the caption, because there are more maps there that further spell out this massive divide between rural and urban voting patterns.

What I am offering here, is a taste of the complex story trying to be heard. It is one that has been quietly moving forward underneath the outrage-machine that is our news and social media space. So many people have been walking through a forest, wearing headphones blasting ocean noise, and insisting we are at the beach. The only way to correct our perceptions is to take out the headphones and listen to the sound actually around us, listen to it, and have the courage to acknowledge we were wrong and are actually in a forest.

If nothing else, humanise those you disagree with. You will always find some common ground.

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