Guest post: The same 60 million-ish white middle-class Americans

Originally a comment by G Felis on Trump’s lobbyists.

Trump was elected by the same 60 million-ish white middle-class Americans who voted for McCain and Romney. (He actually received fewer total votes than either of the preceding candidates.) While some of those Trump voters were surely enthusiastic first-time voters from the deplorable categories (white supremacists and such), they appear to have been balanced by the more traditional Republicans who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Trump (but also refused to support Clinton), leaving the total number of votes for Trump roughly on a par with Romney and McCain. That is to say, most of the 60 million Trump voters were the same individual citizens — not the same demographic categories, but the same people (older, but no wiser) — who turned up the last two times to pull the lever for Republicans. Maybe more of them did it holding their nose this time, or maybe they actually bought into his anti-Muslim religious bigotry (and every other possible form of bigotry) — but they voted for him either way.

But that doesn’t make the anti-establishment narrative of this election false. The people who were genuinely opposed to and disillusioned by the DC establishment are the ones who didn’t show up to vote for Clinton, but did show up to vote for Obama in 2008 and 2012. The votes Clinton DID NOT get but Obama DID get are really what decided this election. (See the chart linked below.) And I honestly do think that is in large part because Clinton is seen as the embodiment of the DC establishment. Yes, it’s also due to 30 years of conservatives smearing her and irresponsible media repeating and reinforcing those smears, and due to plain old-fashioned sexism; there’s no separating out or ignoring those factors, of course. But there is also no denying that Clinton was the establishment candidate in an election where the electorate was rife with anti-establishment sentiment — which is why Democratic Party outsider Bernie Sanders had such a strong showing in the primary against her. I don’t at all think that anti-establishment sentiments drove people to vote AGAINST Clinton and FOR Trump; it just led to voters who voted for Obama not showing up to vote for Clinton. And that’s a damned tragedy, because Clinton isn’t that different a person from Obama in terms of political ideals and platforms, and she is probably the more savvy negotiator and hard-nosed political player of the two, and could have accomplished a great deal of good despite being a fair bit more centrist/moderate than I would prefer.

Total votes chart:

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