Nearly one year removed from the most stunning presidential election result in memory, a panel of election analysts agreed this week that lower-than-expected voter turnout, particularly among minority voters, cost Hillary Clinton the presidency.
In a panel discussion at the Center for American Progress in Washington, Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at CAP, detailed voter turnout statistics that contradict previous research. White, non-college-educated voters showed up in far greater numbers than exit polls indicated, he said, and African-American turnout was substantially lower.
Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. suggested Clinton focused her campaign too heavily on Trump’s unfitness for office and not enough on her own policies. “Make America more empathetic for people’s concerns and ask them what they worry about on a day to day basis, this is the key to get them to the polls”, Dionne asserted.
Looking at the results and considering Trump’s dismal approval rates, Sarah Audelo, Executive Director of Alliance of Youth Action, stressed that progressives must learn from previous mistakes and put more effort and resources into reaching out to minority communities. “So many local activist groups can make a difference and engage Black communities, if they have the means to do so”, Audelo argued. She also highlighted the crucial role of young voters in elections: “We need to motivate young people early on to build habits in going to the polls.
Matt Morrison, Co-Executive Director of Working America, underlined the importance of face to face conversations to increase voter turnout. “If you want to engage people, tell them something they don’t know about policies that affect them.”
Apart from Clinton’s failure to properly target minority voters, the panel agreed that gerrymandering and legal barriers including voter ID laws and restricted voting and registration opportunities undercut turnout and her support. Black turnout in Wisconsin, one of the most gerrymandered states and one in which Clinton was heavily favored, dropped by 19 percentage points in the 2016 election from its 2012 level.
The panelists agreed that politicians need to address these issues by passing legislation to restore people’s trust in our political system, and -- most importantly -- allow every voice to be heard.
Issues: Voting and Elections