Rashid A Mughal
HAVING spent last five months in USA and Watching US Presidential election campaign on almost every TV channel and listening to speeches being made by the two candidates and comments of observers, analysts and commentators, really made an interesting and often shocking experience. Interesting because you watch and hear the hearts and minds of the people candidly and shocking because it showed the deep divide in USA, (which has multiplied many times),between the Rich and Poor, highly educated and less educated, blacks and whites, between cultures and religion, in present day US. What seems to be worrying is the fact that such divide has now become open and often violent.
Class continued to be a basic dividing line in this election. Clinton states are richer (being positively correlated with both average incomes at 57, and hourly wages, at 67, while Trump states are poorer (being negatively correlated with both income at -.60 and with hourly wages, at -.68). Trump also drew more support in states with greater concentrations of poverty, measured as the share of families living below the poverty line (the correlation there is .39). Clinton support has no significant correlation to the share of people living in poverty.
Back in 2012, Obama drew support from counties with large shares of creative class knowledge workers, winning two-thirds of the 2008 vote in the top 100 counties with the highest percentages of creative class workers, while McCain drew his support from working class counties. The same basic pattern remained in 2016. If Clinton support came from creative class states, Trump’s support came from working class states. While Trump drew considerable support from less educated working-class voters, his support is more related to less directly economic aspects of class status, such as health and the ability to move up the economic ladder, as well as racial isolation.
Analysis also finds the most basic measure of health, life expectancy, to be a basic dividing line in American politics. Clinton support was higher in states where life expectancy is longer (.35), while life expectancy is negatively correlated with Trump support(-.56). Inequality is often said to be an issue that is driving politics and class divisions in the United States. But it seems to be playing a more limited role in the 2016 election. Income inequality, based on the standard measure of the Gini coefficient, is not associated with Trump support and positively associated with Clinton support (.39).
Urbanization and density were also key issues in defining which states were blue and which were red. Clinton drew support from more urbanized states while Trump drew support from less urbanized states. Housing prices are another feature of America’s political divide. Clinton support was higher in states with higher median housing values (being positively correlated at .57, while Trump support was negatively associate with it at -.64).
Taxes remained a bread-and-butter issue separating Democrats from Republicans. Clinton support was not surprisingly higher in states with higher state income taxes, while Trump support come from states with lower tax rate. This likely reflects the fact that higher-tax states are richer and more educated than lower-tax ones. But social policy related to issues such as gays, guns, and abortion are bigger issues than taxes. Later iterations of the polls, taken before the news about Clinton’s email scandal , showed a considerably smaller Clinton lead but after the FBI Director went on TV to announce re-opening of the Clinton email issue, Clinton had suffered a moderate loss of support thereafter in several polls, apparently due in part to the email revelations. At the same time, Trump benefited from undecided voters breaking his way. Some analysts firmly believe that this last minute announcement did hurt Clinton in a big way.
Poll numbers didn’t fluctuate wildly down the stretch, in large part because there haven’t been too many undecided voters left. However, this contest, featuring two of the most unpopular candidates ever to run for the Oval Office, has kept many voters on the sidelines until the last minute. But historically, significant swings at the end of an election aren’t unheard of. There was obviously pretty substantial movement toward Bob Dole at the end of 1996 and there was a move toward Al Gore at the end of 2000
— The writer is former DG (Emigration) and consultant ILO, IOM.