For Democrats, the nature of the electoral defeat suffered on Tuesday was not just historic. It was all but biblical. Across the board, the failure to win governorships, legislatures, U.S. Senate seats, the House of Representatives, and most importantly the White House, sent a very powerful message: We're mad as hell, and since you won't listen to us, we're going to make you listen. Hence, Donald Trump will be our next president of the United States.
Now, when a party suffers a painful defeat like this, especially one where so many foolishly believed the polls couldn't possibly be this wrong, it is easy to want to blame others. Specifically, those who voted for Trump.
All across social media, an explosion of vitriol has been directed at Trump voters. How could they vote for someone with such offensive views, and who has said so many horrible things again and again? Clearly, they must be racist, sexist, or bigoted.
Now, I don't doubt that some percentage of Trump voters may share these abhorrent views, but nearly 60 million adults voted for Trump. And if we think that all 60 million Trump voters are racist, sexist, bigoted, or what have you, we are missing one of the primary reasons we lost: Democrats stopped listening to millions of people who have voted Democrat who feel real economic pain across America.
How many voters did Democrats lose or choose to disengage? Millions.
Consider this: John Kerry got over 59 million votes in 2004, while Obama got over 69 million votes in 2008, and nearly 66 million votes in 2012. In 2016, Hillary Clinton got nearly 60 million votes – basically a little better than Kerry. For one reason or another, even as our population grew, we somehow lost 10 million Democratic votes between 2008 and 2016. How is that even possible?
Well, one explanation is that our message – especially the Clinton campaign's message – didn't work.