America stood in shock the night of the 2016 Presidential elections as Donald Trump was announced to be the next President of the United States and the Republican Party maintained control of the House and Senate. This was a shock because almost every poll showed that Trump would lose immensely even after WikiLeaks released more of Hillary Clinton’s emails and the FBI announced a further investigation. It was also a shock because Clinton is only the fifth candidate in American history to lose an election after receiving more votes (Andrew Jackson in 1824, Samuel Tilden in 1876, Grover Cleveland in 1888 and Al Gore in 2000).
The reason why the polls got it wrong is simple: they predicted the demographics wrong. It was obvious that Trump was not going to win the majority of minorities, women, LGBTQ community members and millennials but the polls predicted Clinton to win those demographics in an overwhelming landslide.
It also didn’t help Clinton that all of those demographics had a lower voter turnout than in 2008 and 2012 when Barack Obama won the presidency. According to CNN, in 2016 only 55.4% of eligible voters actually voted. 2008 saw a 62.1% turnout and 2012 saw a 60% turnout. In fact, it’s the lowest turnout since 2000 when George W. Bush won the presidency but didn’t receive more votes, like Donald Trump. This can all be attributed to Clinton not inspiring minorities and millennials to vote, like what Obama actually did twice because he was well liked and trusted in those communities.
According to multiple exit polls the actual voting numbers in those demographics were much closer and it propelled Trump to victory, especially in states where Clinton was almost guaranteed to win like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. According to the Washington Post, one of the more surprising and least talked about is the LGBTQ vote which saw Trump get 14% of the vote and Clinton 78.
Fourteen percent is a high number considering Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence was a fierce competitor to same-sex marriage in his state and is an open supporter of gay-conversion therapy. One of the more talked about but still very surprising is the women vote, which saw Trump take 42% of the vote even after the release of the Access Hollywood tape, and his long history with women. The most interesting demographic was the millennial vote which saw Clinton receive 55% of the vote and Trump 37.
This is very different from 2012 which saw President Obama receive 60% and Mitt Romney 36; even with how Romney’s policies and character was more moderate thus he appealed to millennials more than Trump. Five percent of millennials who voted, chose to vote third party candidates like Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, which is the highest of all age groups.
All of the lack of millennial support for Clinton, with them voting third party and even Trump can be stemmed back to the trust issues, which was really the overall reason to Clinton’s decline of support in all demographics, even white males. Many have felt cheated by the system for years by establishment politicians; that’s why they overwhelmingly supported Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary and it propelled him to almost win the nomination.
Even after Clinton adopted many of Sanders’ policies and Sanders himself endorsing her, those millennials couldn’t accept Clinton, if it had to do with trust, being too moderate or her connections to Wall Street. They went to Jill Stein or Gary Johnson who are not establishment politicians and they even went with Donald Trump, disregarding his policies and character because he isn’t an establishment politician either. Lastly, many chose simply to not even vote at all because they simply didn’t see a candidate they could trust, support and/or had a chance of winning.
Because of this major upset and defeat, the Democratic Party has been left with almost nothing going forward. They have no majorities in any branches of the government and a majority of governorships and state houses are Republican. Hillary Clinton’s political career is over and right now they do not have a name or leader who can take them to 2020 or even 2018. In order for them to find election success again they must gain the trust back in those demographics, especially millennials like Obama did in 2008 and 2012. The Democrats cannot go with an older, establishment politician; they must go with someone younger, a breath of fresh air much like Obama was in 2008.
Fortunately for them, many of those potential breathes of fresh air exist within like Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada who is the first Latino woman to be elected to the senate. Tammy Duckworth of Ilinois who is an Iraq War veteran, double amputee and is only 48 years old. Lastly Kamala Harris of California who is the second African-American woman senator in history and is only 52 years old. All of these new senators can get back those demographics, especially the millennial one if the DNC choses to have one of them run against Donald Trump in 2020 because much like Obama, they are young and breathes of fresh air and that gets support.
Editor’s note: This is an opinion piece.