I have had some time to digest the election results from 8 November as well as look at what will happen tomorrow.
There were some victories.
My state rep, Leslie Herod, easily won her general election race. Given the political leanings of the district – located in the heart of Colorado’s 1st congressional district – the only challenging election she will have will be the Democratic primary. Colorado has term limits for executive and legislative branch officials. My representative will be in the Colorado House for 8 years barring a primary defeat or itching for higher office (state senator, governor, US House Rep, US Senator, etc.).
Colorado Democrats kept the state house and increased their majority in that chamber by 3 more seats. They are favored to keep the state house in 2018. State Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran was elected by a unanimous voice vote and is the first Latina elected to serve in this position. She delivered a keynote at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Speaker Duran is certainly someone to keep an eye on in the future.
The US Senate gained four women: Kamala Harris in California, Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada, and Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire.
I felt some emotion seeing Senator Duckworth’s swearing-in re-enacting. Not only did she stand for the ceremony, but she placed her left hand on the Constitution.
But unfortunately, those successes are overshadowed by Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the presidential election. She becomes the fifth presidential candidate to win the non-binding popular vote but lose the electoral college vote. The others: Andrew Jackson in 1824 where the election was decided in the House, Samuel Tilden in 1876, the then-incumbent Grover Cleveland in 1884, and Al Gore, who served as Bill Clinton’s vice-president, in 2000. This is the second presidential election in my lifetime where this instance has happened. Trump lost the national popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes and 2.1 percentage points. Losing by 2.1% is the largest margin of popular vote defeat for the electoral college winner since 1876.
When the Electoral College met to officially cast their ballots in December, five Democratic electors defected while two Republicans electors (from Texas) defected bringing the final total to Trump 304-227.
Six states that voted for Obama twice – Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin – went for Trump. Pennsylvania and Michigan last went for a Republican in 1988. For Wisconsin, it goes back to 1984. Trump picked up an elector from Maine and it was the first time since the state allocated their electoral votes by congressional district in 1972, not all of their votes went to the statewide winner.
Many forecasters – including myself – were wrong about the result. In part, it was due to the information and trends that were available at the time. By most observers, Clinton won all three debates. The revelation of the Hollywood Access tape came at a bad time for Trump, and his ability and his campaign team to explain it made everything worse.
Why did Clinton lose the electoral vote?
What did Clinton in was… well… everything.
A Democratic primary that left those that supported Senator Sanders feeling that they were left out despite that they won several concessions on the platform. Sanders supporters will tell you that the primaries were rigged in Clinton’s favor except evidence says otherwise. If anything, the primaries were rigged against Clinton in part due to the caucuses. A pattern emerged in the Democratic nominating contests that if the state used a caucus it favored Sanders while states that used a primary generally favored Clinton. If you compare the Washington caucus to its non-binding primary results, Sanders won the caucus while Clinton won the primary.
And using the phrase “rigged election” is the same one that Republicans used to try to pass voter ID laws and limit access to the polls. It is insulting to the mainly black and Latino voters that make up a good portion of the Democratic Party nominating contests. If a Sanders-like candidate is to win the Democratic nomination, they need to make inroads with those groups. Clinton, for her strengths and weaknesses with those groups, had relations with them; Sanders did not.
It should be noted that Sanders did campaign for Clinton but did not get the message across that this was not the time to cast a ballot for third party candidates.
This was also the first election post Shelby County, the Supreme Court decision that gutted provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. How many voters in Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin were impacted by restrictions that either limited the number of polling locations in heavily Democratic precincts, voter ID laws that targeted voters that supported Democrats, or reduced early voting times that impacted black voters who used the Sunday before Election Day to send souls to the polls?
FiveThirtyEight also presents that there was in fact a large surge towards Trump in the end in part due to FBI Director James Comey’s letter that was reported inside two weeks from Election Day. On Election Day, FiveThirtyEight had Trump’s odds as high as 30% in part due to a large number of undecided voters. Compare to 2012 where Romney was given about a 10% chance by FiveThirtyEight (then under the New York Times umbrella).
Other factors were that even though along gender lines Clinton won women by 12 points, it was white women who backed Trump 53-41. And then there were those that did not vote at all.
And if you didn’t vote, your opinion matters very little to me at all. You don’t vote; you don’t matter.
Then there was WikiLeaks, Russia, the “I want a woman president, just not Clinton” line of thinking from some people, Clinton’s approvals dropping as she was running for higher office, the assumption by the Clinton camp that Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin would always be in the Democratic column despite there being no strong evidence they wouldn’t, and as Van Jones put it during Election Night, a white-lash to Obama’s presidency and a country that was changing.
And of course, the media played a role in Trump’s victory by giving him a free pass at every instance. Someone at a network control room should have had the courage to cut his feed the moment he characterized Mexicans as rapists in his campaign announcement speech followed by a newsperson apologizing for Trump’s comments. The press should have pulled their reporters en masse after NBC correspondent Katy Tur had to have secret service escort her from a Trump rally after the candidate singled her out to his rabid followers. The Commander-in-Chief’s forum should not have had Matt Lauer interview the candidates. While it was a good idea, having the Today show host ask questions about military and foreign policy would not have been my choice as well as his line of questioning to the two candidates was as different as day and night. NBC should have brought Richard Engel out of whatever Middle East hotspot he was in to conduct the interview.
Now the media is afraid that the incoming Trump White House is about to limit their access to the administration. Maybe they should have vetted Trump better and put him more on the spot about his weaknesses on… well… as shown with his cabinet choices, everything.
They were so desperate for the horserace they were willing to prop up one candidate despite his many flaws that would have doomed other candidates while tearing down another candidate because she just wasn’t perfect enough that they did not factor in what a Trump administration could mean for journalism. But as CBS Chairman Les Moonves said in February about Trump’s campaign, “It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS.”
I hope Edward R. Murrow, who worked at CBS as a World War II correspondent and later a critic of Joseph McCarthy, haunts him.
I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and tomorrow, Donald J. Trump will take a similar oath when he is sworn in as our nation’s 45th president.
I am saying the right things because I strongly respect what truly make America great: our elections, a relatively independent press free from government influence, the courts, the military that I served in, and our diversity that at times has been challenged and re-defined over and over and over again.
I also celebrate the relative peaceful transfer of power that was established by Washington, solidified by Adams when he lost the 1800 election to Jefferson, and went on through periods of peace and prosperity to times of war and uncertainty like the one we are in now.
However, understand that I feel that I should give President-elect Donald Trump the same contempt that Republicans gave President Barack Obama when he was sworn into office nearly eight years ago.
And there is good reason for that too.
Eight years ago, as the nation celebrated Barack Obama’s inauguration, a group of Republicans gathered at a DC restaurant to determine their strategy for the future. They knew that Obama was the future and the country just gave the Republicans the middle finger. They seized on the anxiety of the economic crisis as well as stoke the racial fears of a black president. Their only solution was to just say no to everything that the new president proposed, even ideas – ObamaCare for one – that Republicans once supported (ask the Heritage Foundation and Mitt Romney about it).
What makes the incoming Trump administration so sure that that there will be goodwill towards an incoming president that lost the popular vote with 46% of the vote and has an incoming approval that is at best 40%?
If he and his advisers truly believe that they have a mandate to govern as they see fit, then the world is turned upside down.