Why did a large number of American women vote for a hotel developer as US President rather than for Hilary Clinton who has served as secretary of state and also as a senator for the high profile state of New York?
American women vote in much larger numbers than the men. Clinton anticipated that her gender would prove to be an advantage to her, giving her these increased numbers especially since Donald Trump had come across as a misogynist after several women accused him of sexual assault.
US exit polls show that Hilary did not get the kind of support from women as she had expected. Polls showed that she did not succeed in reaching out to younger voters, including younger women. The exit poll polls show that 54 percent of women voted for Clinton as compared to 42 percent for Trump, but these numbers are not very different from the 22 percent of women who voted for Barack Obama as compared to 44 percent for Romney in the last presidential election of 2012.
Young people voted in smaller numbers for Clinton while the aging population (49 per cent) put in their lot behind Trump. Rural and small town America also voted for Trump in much larger numbers with him garnering 62 percent of the votes. Only 52 percent of American poor earning less than $50,000 per annum voted for her. The numbers of Hispanics and African Americans also voted for Hilary in fewer numbers than Democrats had hoped. Hispanic and African American votes for Trump actually went up from the 2012 presidential elections.
Lois Barber, who runs an environment NGO called Earth Action from Amherst in New Hamsphire, believes one of the key reasons that created a dent in Hilary’s popularity was, `The huge numbers of false accusations and lies about her made by Trump and other Republicans in the past and during the campaign.
Trump made her the ‘enemy’, calling her a criminal and saying he would have her locked up (in jail). This poisoned the minds of many Americans against her. These lies and accusations about Secretary Clinton were repeated thousands of times right through the country via television, radio and other media for over a year.’
Barber also believes there is `A fundamental stream of racism that still exists in the USA that was energised by those who resented having an African American as President for the last eight years. Hilary was supported by Obama and that alone made some people angry at her. And finally, many people still can’t see a woman as President. Many people who are hurting, demoralised, and poor, just wanted something ‘new’ and Donald Trump spoke directly to them’.
Barber believes, `It was her inclusive vision at all that people didn’t agree with. I think the majority of Americans agree with most of the issues she championed: better education, justice, gender equality, more equitable distribution of wealth. It was the messenger they didn’t like. Trump, in his brazen way, captured the energy for some fundamental change, and Hilary didn’t manage to light the same kind of fire.’
Hilary has always faced a major trust deficit with the American public especially those belonging to southern states where she continues to be viewed with tremendous hostility. The reopening of her email files worsened the situation for her and it was literally, two days before voting took place, that the FBI chief James Coney said that they found nothing significant against her.
Many women have not liked her. There are women who continue to remember her rather thoughtless remarks against housemakers when she said she did not want to stay at home and make cookies for her family. Old fashioned America felt these remarks disparaging. They also resented her as being someone who belonged to wealthy jet set from the east coast.
Donald Trump is probably richer than the Clintons. A property tycoon, he was able to present himself as an anti-establishment, brash outsider willing to smash the status quo and this is what a large number of people wanted to hear.
New York–based Janet Stilson, a popular writer and journalist who edited New York’s premier media magazine Multi-Cable News for several years, believes that `America is a divided country today. Many members of the white male middle-class constituency are troubled by a population that is becoming more multicultural with each passing day. It makes them very uncomfortable, especially when coupled with the reality that they or their loved ones are going through hard times and unemployment.’
'More liberal Americans are horrified by the racist, sexist and greedy tendencies of some members of this (all white) group and certainly the new President of the US. But in the end, the horror of the first-named group towards Hillary Clinton outweighed the horror of the second group toward Trump. Although, also bear in mind that Hillary Clinton appears to have won the popular vote by a narrow margin, which actually may grow wider as all the election results are counted. The electoral college needs to be reformed, or dumped, in favor of a more democratic voting system. But under the incoming regime, that is unlikely to happen,’ said Stilson.
Historian Prof Romilla Thapar who was following the elections believes, ` Hilary was not strong enough to win over the uncertain votes including the women voters. I myself am surprised how many women voted for Donal Trump irrespective of how strong or weak Hilary was.’
Pollsters bear these facts out. Women voters in the US were decided by race and educational qualifications and while 54 percent of women without a college education voted for Trump, 38 percent in that category voted for Clinton. It was the same with blue-collar white women who along with their husbands voted for Trump.
Thapar adds, ` America is in for a bad time with Trump on top. It would have been very fitting I if there was a woman president heading the US.’
Educationist Nilambri Ghai who is presently working out of America believes, `I am shocked that despite reports, polls, offensive comments and sweeping generalisations, and lack of support from the Speaker of his own party, Donald Trump has won the presidency and is commanding power from both houses. Working on his own, and with few supporters, he has proven pundits and pollsters ineffective.
'The one thing that stands out from the election results is that people are tired of a broken system, and want change. Will this work? Trump certainly does not have the barriers posed by both houses that Barack Obama did. There are many expectations, and a kind of blind faith and hope for the "American dream" and "making America great!" But it can only happen if Trump is able to seek the help of good advisers, and govern with some sensitivity.'
Ghai talks about the `Many jokes are around about the walls that Trump is going to build and the borders that he is going to close; the trade deals that he is going to break, and the foreign policy that he is going to change. When done thoughtlessly and with the power that he has at his disposal, this can be downright dangerous for the US and for the rest of the world,’ she said.
Ghai believes, `Hillary lost because she happened to represent a broken system and more of the same. But she has the knowledge and experience to govern well, to maintain stability and remove uncertainty. I am sorry she lost. I hope we have not all lost.’
Whatever voters may say, there is no doubt that this unusually combative election has left the American psyche more bruised than ever.
First Published On : Nov 10, 2016 15:33 IST