What Didn’t Happen?: Breaking Down the Results of the 2016 Presidential Election

Publications

November 15, 2017

Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in a bitterly fought 2016 campaign by outpacing past GOP candidates among rural whites and whites without a college degree, particularly in states where turnout simultaneously dove among Democrat-leaning groups, a new study from the Haas Institute at UC Berkeley and Tides argues. The report, titled “What Didn’t Happen?: Breaking Down the Results of the 2016 Presidential Election,” and authored by Tides Senior Fellow Joshua Clark, uses data from the US Census Bureau, major post-election surveys, and other sources to examine shifts in voting behavior among different demographic groups that led to last year’s major upset.

Among the dominant media narratives the report challenges is that Trump enjoyed widespread popularity across the Rust Belt, where he won the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Iowa, all of which President Barack Obama won in 2012. When taken state-by-state, and county-by-county, different stories begin to emerge that complicate that narrative. Of those five states, voter participation rates were in fact down in three compared to the previous election, were essentially stagnant in Michigan, and increased substantially only in Pennsylvania. And despite slightly higher voting rates in Michigan, Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton ultimately received 200,000 fewer votes than Obama and Romney did in 2012.

Download this report here. Read the press release here.