Michael Barone: “Double negative” voters decided election

The always incisive psephologist (electionologist, if you like) Michael Barone has lots to say about the US Presidential election. One point stands out, both in deciding the outcome and in why so many pollsters had it wrong.

Normally, “double-positive” voters — those who rate both candidates positively — break along party registration lines, and so do “double-negative” (or “they both s*ck”, if you like) voters.

But while the “double-positives” behaved largely as expected this year,

 According to the exit poll […] 18 percent of voters were “double negatives,” that is, had negative feelings toward both Clinton and Trump. Of these 18 percent, 49 percent voted for Trump and only 29 percent voted for Clinton, with 22 percent saying they picked another candidate or not answering.

[That] split as a percentage of the entire electorate was 9 to 5 percent, a 4 percent margin. Assume that was the split in each target state, rather than the 7 to 7 percent under my default assumption. If you subtract 2 percent from each close state from Trump’s percentage and add it to Clinton’s, you have Clinton carrying Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which have 101 electoral votes. That would give Clinton a 329-209 majority in the Electoral College. As Nate Silver pointed out on FiveThirtyEight.com, that’s a big difference.

In retrospect, observers (and the Clinton campaign!) might have had a better understanding of the election if we had all drilled won and looked more closely at the preferences of the “double negatives.” My hypothesis why they split for Trump: it was a change year, and most “double negatives” wanted change.

Barone also discusses the astonishing incompetence with which the Clinton campaign was led. For instance, Hillary did not make even one appearance in Wisconsin after the primaries, as the campaign assumed that state (which hadn’t gone GOP since Reagan) was in the bag anyway. Elsewhere, it was pointed out that rural voter outreach was delegated to a single staffer sitting in Brooklyn. Also:

The 70-year-old Bill Clinton apparently repeatedly advised Clinton campaign chairman Robby Mook and others to campaign in white working class areas. The 36-year-old Mook spurned — perhaps ridiculed — his advice. None of this going after men who wear trucker hats unironically; let’s show Brooklyn-type Millennials that supporting Hillary is really cool.

Also, how productive was the use of media celebrities?

My guess is that these days, when practically all entertainers are liberal Democrats or farther left, it doesn’t strike most voters as worthy of any attention when several of them appear for a Democratic candidate like Hillary Clinton. All the more so at a time when the entertainment aimed at universal audiences, like 1930s and 1940s movies and 1950s and 1960s TV, is extinct, and when entertainers appeal only to niche audiences.[…] How many undecided voters or low-propensity-voting Democrats in Pennsylvania even know who Lady Gaga is? How many are impressed that actors in “The West Wing”, whose last new episode aired in 2006, support Hillary Clinton? I get it that entertainers can draw large audiences, and I get it that Hillary Clinton (to judge from photos) loved these event. But how did they actually help her campaign?

And in his trademark deadpan fashion:

[Hillary] may have been the first nominee (I don’t know if anyone has done the numbers) to appear at more private fundraisers than in public campaign rallies. One reason for all those fundraisers was to get more money to pay for ads on television — even though technology gives viewers many ways to avoid them these days. Another reason may be that the candidate just loves to spend time with admiring rich people in rooms ready to be photographed for Architectural Digest than she does in often tacky public venues filled with a regrettably large proportion of ordinary people.

Ouch. There’s much more at the link, and Michael Barone announces future updates.

UPDATE: Implicit in Barone’s remarks is that Trump underperformed Romney in some red states, while he obviously outperformed him in battleground states. (Thus, his popular vote totals are close to Romney’s, see my previous post.) Trump’s overall campaign budget was something like a third of Clinton’s, but apparently very well targeted.

Related: Obama twists the knife in Hillary Clinton’s disastrous campaign. The moneygraf:

“You know, I won Iowa not because the demographics dictated that I would win Iowa,” Obama said Monday. “It was because I spent 87 days going to every small town and fair and fish fry and VFW hall, and there were some counties where I might have lost, but maybe I lost by 20 points instead of 50 points.”


One thought on “Michael Barone: “Double negative” voters decided election

  1. No one else but me says that it was Comey’s clearing Hillary a few days before the November election that killed her chances. In a nutshell–it looked too much like a Whitewash Job done in the nick of time; how very convenient!. If only one out of every one hundred voters changed because of this–that is 1% of the vote and there’s the election right there. Too many have axes to grind regarding Comey in July and October.

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