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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Oh, what a lucky man he was (and is, God help us)

by digby

This long analysis by Nate Cohn in the New York Times called "Why Trump had an edge in the electoral college" is a must-read. I know we're all sick of hearing about it, but you can read this and then put away the subject if you want to.

He goes into great depth about the electoral college win and what it means and what it doesn't mean. It's probably not what you think. It wasn't what I thought anyway.

Anyway, this is the conclusion:
The imbalance between competitive and battleground states is somewhat similar to a regionalism issue, at least in a mathematical sense: Mrs. Clinton won the “blue states” by a wider margin than Mr. Trump won the “red states.” The rest of the country — the battlegrounds — voted Republican, and so did the Electoral College.

But this isn’t a regionalism issue. The “solid red” and “solid blue” states where Mr. Trump failed to make gains include a clear majority of the country’s Electoral College votes, population and actual votes. The regional anomaly was the Midwest, and it just so happens that in a winner-take-all system Mr. Trump’s strength in the Midwestern battleground states yielded a lot of Electoral College votes.

There’s a real demographic reason for it: Most of the traditional battleground states are much whiter, less educated and particularly less Hispanic than the rest of the country.

But the demographics alone don’t quite do justice to Mr. Trump’s victory in the Electoral College. In the end, he won the battleground states by just a one-point margin — but claimed three-fourths of their Electoral College votes.

He won four of the five closest states, winning 75 of 79 votes at stake.

There has never been a close election in the United States in which one candidate has claimed such a resounding electoral vote margin out of the closest states.

For lack of a better word: Mr. Trump had some very good luck.
I'm not interested in arguing about this. I'm done with that and frankly I don't much care at this point. Trump is going to be our new president and there's nothing we can do about it. Whether it's a fluke of history, foreign and FBI interference, bad luck or Clinton's mistakes isn't relevant except to the extent that they present a threat going forward. Donald Trump is sui generis and is already changing the world and the electoral landscape. There is very little chance that the next time the voters go to the polls that 2016 will be a template for winning.

Still, two Republican losses of the popular vote resulting in a win in the electoral college in 16 years shows the basic undemocratic nature of our system. Not that I think we're going to change it any time soon. As with virtually everything else, until the problem affects the right, there will be no fix. They have veto power over democracy and progress and they know how to use it. The only time they are thwarted is in the aftermath of one of their overwhelming screw-ups or when the left and center-left stop squabbling among themselves long enough to form a super majority. It does happen from time to time so all is not lost. But we're a very long way from that right now.

For the moment we are facing an ascendant right all over the globe. Let's hope sane people of all stripes can put 2016 behind us and figure out a way to deal with what's coming.

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cheers --- digby