Thursday, December 1, 2016

Clinton "lost" for 2 reasons- rural switching and low Dem turnout

As they start to re-count up the votes (Congrats Menominee County! You're already finished...and with an ominous 2.5% difference in total votes), I think it's worthy to get some signs to see if there will be real news with changes in outcomes and totals.

You can look at the pre-recount results from all communities in Wisconsin by clicking this link, and when you go through the data, you see that Clinton’s problem was two-pronged in Wisconsin. The first prong has been discussed at length on this page and many others- Clinton lost rural, less-educated places in Wisconsin in massive numbers. This shows up big in two stats, the first involving the biggest swings in the percentage of the vote grabbed by GOP vs Dem candidates in 2012 vs 2016.

Biggest swings in Wisconsin to GOP, 2012
Juneau +33.02%
Forest +31.96%
Adams +30.50%
Marinette +30.14%
Rusk +29.89%
Oconto +27.44%
Jackson +26.72%
Trempealeau +26.72%
Crawford +25.39%
Pepin +25.24%

What’s also noteworthy is that many of these places specifically shifted their votes from Democrat to Republican, as their vote totals changed little from 2012. To gauge this, I created an index based on these 2 variables.

1.The number of votes Clinton lost in 2016 vs Obama 2012
2.The increase in margin of victory for Trump in 2016 vs Romney 2012

In this case, a smaller number will indicate higher numbers of vote-switching and extra votes for Trump in 2016 vs Romney in 2012. As an example, Trump gaining 1,500 votes and Clinton losing 1,500 votes would mean an index of 50 (1,500 Clinton loss/3,000 difference in margin). Also worth noting, I didn’t include the 4 counties where Clinton did better than Obama in 2012 for this purpose.

Vote-Switch index, Wisconsin (lower = more switching)
Florence 53.25
Oconto 54.27
Trempealeau 54.30
Burnett 54.63
Juneau 55.89
Pepin 56.31
Chippewa 56.43
Sawyer 56.93
Adams 56.96
Forest 57.72

It’s noteworthy that many of these areas were in districts where Dems suffered their most disappointing losses for State Assembly and State Senate (especially the places in Western Wisconsin).

The other big factor in Clinton’s alleged loss was her not receiving the votes that Obama got in urban and manufacturing-heavy parts of the state. These include the three largest counties that flipped from Dem to GOP this election, and a whole lot of previously-close counties in NE Wisconsin that weren’t close this time.

Biggest loss of Clinton votes vs Obama 2012
City of Milwaukee -39,157
Racine Co. -10,496
Rock County -9,876
Brown County -9,162
Kenosha County -9,096
Winnebago Co -8,395
Outagamie Co. -7,572
Manitowoc Co. -5,897
Marathon Co. -5,886
Sheboygan Co. -4,962

Whole lot of medium-sized industrial towns on that list, isn’t there? The difference here is that Trump didn’t get most of those votes- he only saw gains of any significance in votes in Brown, Marathon, Outagamie, and that combined gain was barely more than 7,250. Generally, these “lost” Obama votes either went to third parties or were suppressed the voters didn’t show up at all.

This shows up in the flip side of that index I created, which shows places where Clinton had a higher loss of votes than the reduction of her margin vs Obama in 2012. In other words, these are places that Trump had fewer votes than Romney, but “gained” on Clinton anyway, and they are indicated with an index over 100. 3 other usually-blue counties also rated high on this list.

Index of Clinton “vote loss” effect
Sheboygan Co. 148.21
City of Milwaukee 141.68
Racine County 135.26
Jefferson Co. 103.07
Eau Claire Co. 98.40
Rock County 91.05
Kenosha Co. 89.67

These numbers underscored by the most heart-breaking stat of a lot of them in the Wisconsin presidential election. If Clinton won the City of Milwaukee by the same 77-18 margin that she did, but had the same total voter turnout in the City that we saw in 2012, she would have won Wisconsin. That one change would have netted her just over 24,000 votes, above the 22,177 Trump (allegedly) won the state by.

With the recount starting up today, let’s compare what they find with the changes we have seen reported. In particular, those lower turnout totals in the blue cities/counties and the huge switches in small-town Wisconsin are things I want “fact or crap” verification. We already saw a high percentage of votes in Menominee County were missed by not including 3rd parties today, and there's 71 counties to go.

But failing any major tampering and assuming these totals stay basically the same, the vote data makes the solutions for the Dems obvious.

1.Make jobs and quality of life in industrial and small towns a major emphasis going forward, because those voters are switching away for Dems. And when their lives are no better (and likely worse) in2 and 4 years, they are prime candidates to return to the fold…IF they are shown that their lives matter to Dem politicians and that their concerns are being listened to.

2.Give traditional Dem places a candidate they can be excited about. Dirty secret- who in Wisconsin was fired up for Hillary Clinton to be president other than professional women who liked the symbolism, and Dem Party careerists who saw a Clinton presidency as a nice path on the insider gravy train? The fact that Hillary lost 71 of 72 counties to Bernie Sanders in the presidential primary should have been a massive red flag, but smug Dem officials just figured people would “get on board” because Trump was so bad. Now we will all pay the price for that arrogance and lack of desire for Team Clinton/DNC/DPW to FINALIZE THE SALE TO WISCONSIN VOTERS.

This situation is fixable, IF a change in mentality happens in the Democratic Party of Wisconsin's leaders and strategists. Well, that and if elections are allowed to continue fairly (big if with today’s GOP).


  1. That was pretty wonky, but I worked through it. In general, I agree with your what and why.

    Now we need to work on the how.

    I think Democrats need to deemphasize the identity and issue based arguments. The finger pointing needs to go away too.

    To bring those small town, rural and working class voters back, I think we need an all hands on deck solution. Sure, the folks at the top are going to pay a little more, but we also have to point out where the rest of us factor into the fix.

    People in the middle 60% have a role to play. I think it's about training up and understanding that we have a responsibility to learn, grow and become more valuable as producers.

    The bottom 20% is where we have the biggest upside. Sure we're going to have to make an investment up front because a lot of this group has lost faith in and touch with the economic engine. We need to make sure they see the opportunities.

    Marry that to a candidate who can stir people up, and we might have something.

    Personally, I'd like to see us do a bigger primary as long as the argument is focused on the message and who best expresses it. Attack the problem not each other. Bernie, Warren, Biden, Kaine, Booker.

    I'd love to see those people and more really carrying the message out to people.

    1. And Dems have to be aggressive in sending the message OUT to the sticks. That's in mass form, not door-to-door BS. And the message must be pro-worker, anti-corporate, anti-corruption.

      The game is different today, GOPs have thr advantage of fake news and GOPper-ganda radio/TV. The state and national Dem parties still don't seem to get that, or want to do anything about it