Obama’s free trade policies, not race, were the primary reason why Trump won

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Opinions and punditry expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author.


While a core component of President-elect Donald Trump’s unorthodox style of politics is openly spouting all forms of bigotry and appealing to bigots in many different ways, another major component, and the component that got Trump elected, of Trump’s style of politics is his unabashed opposition to free trade policies.

Bigotry did not get Trump elected to the White House. As someone who is an election judge in Vermilion County, Illinois, it is not my responsibility to judge voters based on which candidates they vote for, but it is my responsibility, and the responsibility of my fellow election judges, to ensure that voters are able to vote for the candidates of their choice. In this year’s general election, I was one of five election judges who worked the polls in Danville Township Precinct 4 in Vermilion County, Illinois (although I live in a different part of my home county), and here are a couple of interesting results from the precinct where I worked (source here):

 

PRESIDENT / VICE PRESIDENT
Total Number of Precincts 1
Precincts Reporting 1 100.0 %
Vote For 1
Times Counted 272/447 60.9 %
Total Votes 271
Times Over Voted 0
Number Of Under Votes 1
CLINTON/KAINE DEM 67 24.72%
TRUMP/PENCE REP 189 69.74%
JOHNSON/WELD LIB 8 2.95%
STEIN/BARAKA GRN 4 1.48%
Write-in Votes 3 1.11%

 

COMPTROLLER
Total Number of Precincts 1
Precincts Reporting 1 100.0 %
Vote For 1
Times Counted 272/447 60.9 %
Total Votes 261
Times Over Voted 1
Number Of Under Votes 10
SUSANA MENDOZA DEM 82 31.42%
LESLIE MUNGER REP 155 59.39%
CLAIRE BALL LIB 17 6.51%
TIM CURTIN GRN 7 2.68%

 

The first result I posted is the presidential/vice-presidential general election vote in the precinct in which I was an election judge, the second result is the Illinois state comptroller special election vote. Results do not include any late-arriving absentee ballots that have not yet been counted, which, if there are any received between now and November 22, will be counted no later than November 22. In the precinct where I was an election judge, here’s the difference between the comptroller vote and the presidential/vice presidential vote by party (mathematical formula used is D = cp, in which c is the comptroller vote total for a political party’s nominee and p is the POTUS/VP vote; positive number means party received more votes for comptroller than POTUS/VP):

 

DEMOCRATIC +15
REPUBLICAN -34
LIBERTARIAN +9
GREEN +3

 

The differential figures are my own calculations that are based on the vote totals.

In the precinct where I worked as an election judge, Hillary Clinton got 15 fewer votes against Donald Trump than Susana Mendoza did against Leslie Munger, even though Trump is notorious for his anti-Hispanic bigotry and Mendoza is Hispanic. Had Hillary Clinton received 15 more votes per precinct across the entire country, Clinton would have won Michigan (media has not projected a winner as of this writing), Wisconsin (won by Trump), and Pennsylvania (won by Trump), which, not counting any other electoral college unit (state, Nebraska or Maine congressional district, or federal district) would have resulted in Clinton winning 274 electoral votes, which would have been enough to win the presidency.

Although trying to compare the political power of the largely technocratic state office of Comptroller of Illinois to the highly political federal office of President of the United States is like trying to compare a train to a sports car, Mendoza ran a far better campaign for the office she sought than Hillary did for the office she sought. While Hillary completely ignored large segments of the electorate that she had to win the support of (including Wisconsin, a swing state in recent presidential elections), Mendoza ran a television ad in heavily-Republican areas of Illinois that educated voters about the role of the Illinois Comptroller’s office without insulting voters in any way:

Neither Mendoza nor Munger had to take a position on issues like President Obama’s proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal because they were running for a largely technocratic office responsible for controlling Illinois state tax dollars, but Clinton and Trump, who were running for the highest and most political office in the country, did. Trump railed against the TPP, and that’s how he won enough electoral votes to win the presidency. While Trump indisputably won the presidential election, don’t tell me that Trump won because of his bigotry, because I just cited an example to prove that’s not true.

I’m not suggesting that Susana Mendoza should run for president in 2020 by any imagination, but this year’s presidential election was decided by less than 15 votes per precinct. Remember, every vote counts.

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