Defying conventional wisdom and virtually every political behavioral norm imaginable, a billionaire Republican that had no political experience, Donald Trump, was elected last week as the next president of the United States.
Going into Election Day, nearly all of the polls showed that the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, the former first lady and U.S. secretary of state, was leading in the nationwide polls and in the vast majority of the polls monitoring the all-important “battleground states.”
But a funny thing happened on the way to the voting booth. Although Clinton won the nationwide “popular vote” by around 1 million votes, she lost the “electoral vote” because she lost most of the races in the battleground states.
Trump won 290 “electoral votes” to Clinton’s 232. Each state awards a certain number of electoral votes to the candidate that carries the state, and 270 are needed to win the election. (Michigan’s 16 electoral votes have not been awarded, as that state’s race has been deemed “too close to call.”)
Trump’s victories in Pennsylvania, Florida and Wisconsin — which were forecast as being comfortably in Clinton’s column before the election —surprised the pollsters. Those three races were tight — with all three separated by 1.3 percentage points or less — but those states, and their 59 total electoral votes, swung the election to Trump.
CNN’s exit polling provides some insight into the demographic divisions in the electorate. The race primarily was divided along gender, race, geographical and age lines.
The exit polling shows that 54 percent of women favored Clinton, as compared to 42 percent of women who voted for Trump. By contrast, men favored Trump by a margin of 53 percent to 41 percent.
Meanwhile, white voters voted for Trump by a large margin — 58 percent to 37 percent — while an even larger margin of non-white voters — 74 percent to 21 percent — voted for Clinton. White voters, however, made up 70 percent of the overall electorate. According to the CNN exit polls, there also is a pronounced geographical division in the electorate. The polls show that urban voters favored Clinton by a 59-35 percent margin, which is contrasted by rural voters who favored Trump by a 62-36 percent margin. Suburban voters favored Trump by a 50-45 percent margin.
The exit polling also shows that young voters preferred Clinton, while older voters sided with Trump. Voters between the ages of 18 and 44 favored Clinton by a 52-40 percent margin. Voters 45 and older picked Trump by a 53-44 percent margin. Because 55 percent of the overall electorate was 45 and older, advantage Trump.
The age demographic partially explains the anti-Trump protests that have been taking place in multiple cities over the past week. Thousands of young voters say they are concerned about Trump’s character — particularly when in comes to civil rights. Exit pollers also asked voters about which qualities of the candidates mattered most to them. Clinton won more than two-thirds of the votes from people who said experience, judgment and “cares about me” were the most important qualities in the next commander-in-chief.
However, 39 percent of the electorate said “can bring change” was the most important quality in the next president. Those voters favored Trump by a whopping 83 percent to 14 percent margin. Various political issues also factored in. Those who considered immigration and terrorism as the most important issues facing the country picked Trump by a 64-32 percent margin and a 57-39 percent margin, respectively.
Meanwhile, those who considered foreign policy and the economy as the most important issues facing the nation picked Clinton by a 60-34 percent margin and a 52-42 percent margin, respectively.