As US tosses up between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, who will win the key minority vote?
My article for ‘Scroll.in’ with collaboration of Nihal Krishan.
At the end of a brutally divisive campaign, the Democrat seems to have the edge over her Republican rival.
On November 8, America will elect a new resident. A brutally divisive campaign has exposed the fault lines in American society, especially the troubled race relations. The leading candidate, Hillary Clinton, is likely to benefit from the polarisation created by Donald Trump’s abrasive campaign, especially when it comes to minority groups in the United States.
Nearly 40% of Americans can be classified as minorities in a country still struggling to handle its whiteness. Since Trump, the Republican candidate, leads white voters by 14 points (and white men without a college degree by 28 points), Democratic nominee Clinton is relying heavily on the support of minorities and women.
The US presidential elections have highlighted the anxieties on race, economic inequality, immigration and the uncertain future of the world’s only superpower. The divisive discourse of Trump makes for good television and social media trends, but it also exposes a key insecurity of the white population: their dwindling numbers and the centuries-old control over society and politics.
The United States, as a result of interrelated trajectories of history and immigration, has never been so multicultural. The original conception of an America for white Americans stands challenged. Eight years of a black president, a sizeable youth population anxious to reject the heavily compromised political system, and the rise of new media and citizen journalism have enabled greater debate on issues that were conveniently kept invisible by the mainstream political narrative and the media in the past.
Incarceration, police brutality against African-American youth and the urban-rural divide are explosive areas of political mobilisation. While Clinton may not present a radical vision of change, her political agenda attempts to address most of these issues, and makes promises for incremental change in a progressive direction.
The 2015 population census states that the white population – not including Hispanics or Latinos – is 61.6% of the total.
But voters from the non-white cohort are far less. Twenty-eight per cent of eligible voters in 2016 are people of colour (Asian, Hispanic and black), according to the Pew Research Center. Sixty-nine per cent are likely to be white.
The white population in America is projected to shrink to 46% by 2065, with most of this gap to be filled by Asian and Hispanic immigrants.
Not every person of colour, however, is eligible to vote. Many states have strict voter ID laws or other procedures that prevent voter registration. One out of every 40 Americans can’t vote because they have been convicted of a felony. This is worse for African-Americans as one out of 13 is disenfranchised for this very reason.
Still, Clinton has a clear edge over Trump in mobilising the vote of minority groups.
The poll industry
No country has a more obsessive polls industry than the US. Dozens of pollsters have been busy making real-time predictions.
The polls show that Clinton has an overwhelming lead amongst black and Hispanic voters. She leads by 79 points among African-Americans and 28 points amongst Hispanic voters. This compares with President Barack Obama winning the African-American vote by an 86-point margin and Hispanics by a 44-point difference in 2012.
Despite Trump’s polarising xenophobic comments, he has clearly stolen some of the minority vote away from the Democrats. One small solace Clinton can take from the pre-election polls: Mitt Romney beat Obama by 17 percentage points among white voters in 2012, but Trump is only beating Hilary by 14 points among white voters currently, far beneath the 22-point threshold he needs to win white voters by to take the White House, according to FiveThirtyEight.
Voter turnout on November 8 will determine if this perceived edge for Clinton translates into an electoral advantage.
Shattering the glass ceiling
Perhaps the clearest advantage Clinton has is that a sizeable number of women are likely to vote for her. Unlike her past political posturing, Clinton has effectively played the gender card throughout the 2016 campaign.
In the most recent ABC News poll, Clinton leads Trump 50 to 43 in regards to white women. An average of polls from October shows Clinton leads amongst women by 15 percentage points.
The census tells us that 40.2 million eligible white voters were not registered to vote in 2012. Throughout Trump’s campaign, registration gains in white, rural, and typically Republican counties have not been significant. TargetSmart, a political data firm, found that 42.6% of new voters registered this year lean Democratic, with only 29% leaning Republican.
New influxes of registered voters appear to be in the Clinton camp, but will they actually get out there and vote?
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has once again exonerated Hillary Clinton of any wrongdoing with respect to the emails that she sent from her private server. This augurs well for Clinton.
Despite the erratic findings of pollsters, if minorities, women and the progressive youth voters stay the course, Clinton may just become the first woman president of the United States.
Date:Nov 08, 2016