Charles Laffiteau's Bigger Picture
2016-12-01 15:52:57 -
World News
Charles Laffiteau's Bigger Picture

Donald Trump’s success in feeding the unrealistic expectations of older and less educated white voters is the same strategy that Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage used to persuade their counterparts in the UK to vote for Brexit. But before I discuss the parallels between these two elections, I want first to cover how close Trump came to losing.
Four days before the election, the Republican Party’s own state-of-the-art predictive modelling program was calling for Trump to fall 30 votes short of the 270 electoral votes needed to win. Relying on 9.8 billion lines of data culled from more than 26 million telephone interviews, the national party’s developed software to make a multitude of electoral predictions. Yet while it correctly called Michigan for Trump, it also predicted he would lose in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida.
The reason we know this is because top party officials invited a select group of national political reporters to a briefing at the GOP headquarters in Washington DC on the Friday afternoon before the election. But in order to attend the briefing and learn about the new software, the reporters had to agree to an embargo till after the election was over.
However, the Republican Party did not invite reporters to this briefing simply to show off the fruits of their heavy investments in advanced technology. The underlying reason was to make the case that if Trump did lose, it was not due to any failings on the part of the GOP establishment – it would be because of his and his amateurish campaign’s own failings.
While the new program erroneously predicted Hillary Clinton would win Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida and Iowa, and that Trump would win Nevada, it did correctly called the rest of the battleground states. Moreover, it showed Republican voters breaking for Trump in the closing days of the campaign after the FBI reopened its investigation of Clinton’s emails.
So just how close was the 2016 US presidential Election? For starters, Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote by more than 1,400,000 over president-elect Donald Trump. By comparison, Al Gore’s popular-vote lead was only a third of that over President George W Bush in 2000.
Ultimately, Donald Trump lost the popular vote by a margin of 1.05 per cent, the third worst in American history, topped only by President Rutherford Hayes’ 3.01-per-cent loss in 1874 and President John Quincy Adams’ loss by a margin of 10.44 per cent to Andrew Jackson in 1824.
While the final electoral vote tally of 306 for President Elect Trump and 232 for Hillary Clinton is not nearly as close as Bush’s 271 to 267 edge over Gore, it’s actually a lot closer than it looks. As some may recall, the reason why Bush defeated Al Gore in 2000 was because he won the electoral votes of the state of Florida by the slimmest of margins: just 543 more votes than Gore in a state where six million votes were cast.
This time out, Trump won Wisconsin by just 25,000 votes, fewer than the 30,000 Green Party candidate Jill Stein received. Furthermore, Trump only won by 12,000 votes in Michigan, where Stein claimed 50,000. Trump won Pennsylvania by just 68,000 votes, far fewer than the 190,000 that the Green and Libertarian candidates shared, and it was a similar story in Arizona, where Trump’s 85,000 margin was smaller than the 105,000 votes for Stein and Johnson combined.
So a swing of 105,000 votes would have given Clinton an electoral victory by a total of 278 to 260 electoral votes, and a swing of 190,000 votes would have given her 289 electoral votes to 249 for Trump. Clinton won the national popular vote by a margin of over 1,400,000 votes, but a swing of just over 100,000 votes in three states – or 0.0008 per cent of the 120,000,000 votes cast nationally – would have made her the winner of both the popular and the electoral college vote.
As for the parallels between Trump’s election and Brexit, I will discuss those next time, along with Trumps’ cabinet appointments, and what to expect from the Trump administration.

Charles Laffiteau is a US Republican from Dallas, Texas pursuing a career in public service. He previously lectured on Contemporary US Business & Society at DCU from 2009-2011 and pursued a PhD in Public Policy and Political Economy.
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