Trump’s Victory Reveals Two Americas

By Jairo Mejia for EFE Services

Racial, generational or urban: Donald Trump’s presidential victory revealed the multiple tectonic plates under a country deeply divided, that ultimately rejected traditional politics and decades of neoliberal models.

Nearly split exactly in half, (59 million votes in favor of Clinton and 59 million for Trump), Tuesday’s election results illustrate a country with two separate realities and two conflicting visions.

Trump crushed all the forecasts, mobilizing a record number of whites to the polls, diffusing the predicted Democratic Latino firewall by capturing almost a third of the Latino vote. He took Florida and inspired Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin like never before, breaking the blue barrier of the Midwest that Clinton so confidently relied on for the victory.

It was the worst election for Democrats since 1988, leading them, with their heads hung low, to question how a man without political experience – and a campaign seemingly founded in chaos – was able to win without following the traditional political campaign strategy manual.

Trump surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to win early Wednesday morning, ultimately accumulating 279 out of the 538 available in the Electoral College; Michigan and New Hampshire results were still pending as of press time.

The only thing that political analysts, media outlets and polltakers came close to predicting was that Trump’s most loyal base would remain rural, middle- and working-class white males, come to be known as the “Rust Belt.”

Analysts – and the polls had mistakenly predicted a shift to the Democratic Party by educated white males and women, which failed to hold up.

Also underestimated was the fact that many who voted in 2008 for President Barack Obama in the suburbs of Scranton, Pennsylvania or Youngstown, Ohio no longer connected with the Democratic message of hope, but had instead shifted their hope for jobs and empowerment to Trump.

Political strategists and pundits miscalculated the weight of votes in urban areas over rural communities, which they believed would bring Clinton the win.

Democrats did best in the largest populated cities in the country, from Washington to Boston in the east; Chicago, Illinois in the Midwest; Houston, Texas; or Montgomery, Alabama in the heart of the South.

“Trump Country” covered areas from the Appalachian Valleys all the way to Pennsylvania but unexpectedly also captured the Ohio, Indiana and Michigan “Rust Belt” like a tidal way.

Another division made apparent Tuesday is a generational one.

55% of voters aged 18-29 voted for Clinton, but almost one out of 10 opted to vote for a third political party, something that could also hint at a disconnect with traditional politics.

According to the exit polls, nearly 29% of Latino voters chose Trump (similar to how they voted Republican in 2012): 71% of Latinos said they didn’t want Trump and more than 80% of African Americans said they preferred Clinton.

During his acceptance speech, Trump spoke about unifying the country: “Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.

“It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me.

In her concession speech Wednesday, Clinton echoed that message, saying, “We all want what’s best for this country. That’s what I heard in Mr. Trump’s remarks last night. That’s what I heard when I spoke to him directly. And I was heartened by that. That’s what the country needs — a sense of unity, a sense of inclusion, a respect for our institutions, our way of life, rule of law, and respect for each other.”

Now, all that is left to see is how the two very different visions will reconcile in this country under Trump’s presidency.

On one side are those who foresaw Clinton’s victory with enthusiasm, believing Obama’s economic reforms worked, serving as models for development with a low unemployment rate and an increase in median salaries.

At the other extreme are those who despise the neoliberal policies, the same that the Republicans defended overseas and which after the 2009 economic many believe contributed to the demise of the U.S. middle-class, and a greater divide between the country’s rich and poor.

EGP staff writers contributed to this report.

 

 

 

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November 10, 2016  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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