Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Waking up in Trump's America... some initial thoughts

I didn't think it possible that Trump would win.

I dare say that most of the people who visit this blog didn't think it possible either.

The polls said the popular vote would be close, but that Secretary Clinton would start out with a nearly insuperable advantage in electoral votes. Mr. Trump would have to win all the battleground states to have a chance at an upset. It looked like an early evening for the Clinton campaign---cute, I thought, that her party was in a room with a glass ceiling---was she going to break it, at least symbolically, at least some small part of it, during her acceptance speech? The real action, I thought, would be in the Senate races: How many Senate seats besides Illinois would the Democrats pick up?

And then the vote counting started.

Right now, in the morning, Ms. Clinton leads in the popular vote by 180,000 votes or so. The margin has widened in the last few hours. She was down by over a million when Mr. Trump claimed victory; she was up by 130,000 a few hours ago. The gap may widen or close some in the coming days; Trump may yet win a plurality when all the votes are counted. But ours is a federal republic, a union of states, and our chief magistrate is chosen by 538 electors, three from the District of Columbia, and the other 535 apportioned among the states according to their respective seats in Congress. Illinois has 20 votes in the Electoral College because we have 18 congressional districts and, of course, like every state, two senate seats.

Mr. Trump carried enough states to ensure victory in the Electoral College, 289 votes so far according to CNN, 19 more than necessary for victory. With results in Michigan and New Hampshire and Minnesota still not complete, Trump's electoral margin may yet grow.

Like many of you, perhaps, I watched a lot of the CNN coverage last night and into this morning. I found the county-by-county breakdowns remarkable... and very telling.

Here is CNN's county-by-county breakdown for Illinois:

If you click on the link, and go to the linked CNN website page, you'll see the map is interactive. You can see that Secretary Clinton's margin in Cook County was roughly 1.1 million votes. And she won the suburban collar counties, too -- yet her margin in the State as a whole is only 800,000 votes or so.

Similarly, in New York, according to the CNN county-by-county map, Secretary Clinton's 1.5 million vote lead comes largely from New York City:

The margin in California is 2.4 million votes, but the CNN map shows that most of it comes from the urban areas of San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

In an ordinary election year, the Electoral College functions as a mandate multiplier. There are few blowouts in national elections. In 1972, when Richard Nixon beat George McGovern, he had only 60.7% of the popular vote to McGovern's 37.5%. But Nixon won in the Electoral College 520-17 (a nominally Republican elector from Virginia cast a ballot for someone other than Nixon that year). In 2008, when Barack Obama defeated John McCain, Obama had only 52.9% pf the popular vote -- but he bested McCain in the Electoral College 365 to 173.

This year, if Mr. Trump fails to regain the lead in the popular vote count, the Electoral College will not serve that mandate-multiplying function. Some will be tempted to call for abolition of the Electoral College because it 'frustrated' the 'will of the people.' But the genius of our system is that, to become President of this enormously diverse republic, one must win votes in the majority of states, not just supermajorities in a handful of urban areas. That should not be tossed away lightly.

I will leave it to the pundits to explain why Secretary Clinton's "Blue Wall" crumbled and why a rich Manhattanite with clown hair captured the loyalty, or at least the votes, of so many blue-collar, or formerly blue collar, voters. Or why Ms. Clinton in 2016 underperformed Mr. Obama's 2012 results in jurisdiction after jurisdiction (even in True Blue Illinois). Of course, these would be the same pundits who assured us we would never have to face this day.

But we do.


Anonymous said...

So Jack, no acknowledgment of the incredible accomplishment of Donald Trump? I'm not surprised. You are looking for answers? Simple, Clinton is a corrupt liar. An elitist who offers nothing more than to carry on the failed policies of a President who has governed more by executive order than consent of the people. Jack, you need to go on a road trip. Get out of Cook County and drive downstate. Look around. Talk to people. Stop listening to the experts on CNN or at the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago. Trump's ability to listen to people and read a situation is reflective of his brilliance.

You need to step away from your fainting couch. You are still the same Jack Leyhane you were yesterday. Today you live in the same country you did yesterday. You witnessed a brilliant man hear a voice that few others paid attention to.

Anonymous said...

Amazing. The few urban areas that supported Clinton were located in highest debt-ridden and crime-ridden States which have been run for decades by corrupt Democratic politicians. The City of Chicago Cook County being chief among them. That says a lot. You need to face that, Mr. Leyhane.

Anonymous said...

"Clown hair"? Very mature of you. Actually insulting. Same conduct that you and the liberal media have accused Trump of. I know, when you do it, it is somehow different. You never got appointed judge under Obama and you will never get appointed under Trump; so life will go on for you all the same no matter who is in the White House.

Anonymous said...


I've never understood the hatred of the Clintons. I am liberal and consider myself Democrat, but I have voted for qualified, reasonable Republicans before and would do so again. I don't turn a blind eye or defend bad acts by Democrats. I was furious at Bill Clinton after the Lewinsky incident, sickened by a Democratic Governor's attempt to sell a U.S. Senate seat, and repulsed by mayors (plural) who knowingly ignored, covered-up or buried police misconduct. When it comes to reprehensible conduct by Democrats, I embrace the words of Justice Potter Stewart said, "I know it when I see it." If Hillary Clinton was the horrible person she has been painted to be, I trust my judgment enough to say nothing she did ever failed my smell test.

The e-mail server and the Clinton Foundation are, in my opinion, red herrings. This woman has been in public life for 30+ years as a wife of a governor, First Lady, U.S. Senator, Presidential candidate and Secretary of State. Prior to being First Lady, she was a senior partner at the best and biggest law firm in her state and had a reputation as a "take no prisoners" litigator. If anyone knew the danger of putting things in writing, it would be Hillary Clinton. I don't think Hillary is without sin, but she has known for years she was going to run for president. The last thing she would do is create a self-inflicted lethal wound by leaving a paper trail with her Foundation or e-mails.

Trump supporters do not like to hear this, but it is true. He overtly and tacitly tapped into racism and bigotry that some people may not even see in themselves. My father was a white, uneducated factory worker who hated and resented himself for the person he never became. When you are 40 years old, have three kids and the best job you can find in town is a part-time gig greeting customers at Walmart, you look for scapegoats and persons to blame other than yourself for where you ended up. Undocumented immigrants and lopsided trade deals are easy excuses to make yourself into a victim.

Anonymous said...


We live in a diverse city, but in all those "red" counties there was downright hatred of a black man with a Muslim-sounding name as President. He and his wife were intelligent, went to the best schools, were attractive, spoke with eloquence, were well-off lawyers with beautiful children. This was simply too much for many white Americans who resented the Obamas, not for what they did or what they believed, but rather for who they were and what they achieved. Hillary (a woman!!) was resented and despised because, in my opinion, the prospect of a woman following an black man became too much for white working class males. When Bill Clinton or George W. Bush were in office, the white working class male felt represented. The white working class did not go to Yale or Oxford, but they looked at the president and felt safe.

Short of building a wall and repealing Obamacare and some trade deals, I don't know what Trump stands for, and I suspect neither do those who voted for him. But Trump was angry at black lives matters, Muslims, Mexicans, and women he demeaned throughout his campaign, from Rosie O'Connell to Megan Kelly to Carly Fiorina to Miss Universe, and of course, Hillary Clinton. Those who wish to gloss over Trump's blatant bigotry and misogyny are fooling themselves.

Several months ago Trump said he could have stood in the middle of 5th Avenue and shot someone and he'd still be elected, and today were know that was essentially true. As long as Donald tapped into bigotry, racism and hatred, nothing he could do would dissuade the "victimized" white working class from voting for him, even admitting to vulgar mistreatment of women ... because he can do it as a celebrity.

Well, the votes have been cast and counted, and we have elected an unprincipled man with no plans who has a penchant for pathologically lying. With a republican controlled Congress, Trump can blame no one when he is proven to be a colossal buffoon who is unfit to be a Chicago alderman let alone President. He was ushered into office by those who judge success by how many channels you can hijack, if you aren't charged for your cheese fries and if you can get away with claiming a couple bed bugs as dependents. But now he is all of our mess.

Waking up today, I felt like a 6 year old who was suddenly orphaned and told I'm going to be raised by my distant third cousin, Buffalo Bill, who has a comfy basement with plenty of lotion to keep my skin moist the next four years.

Anonymous said...

Some really nasty comments there at 12;20, 12;29 and 12;52. Don't the Trumpettes know the election is over and their guy won? Insulting the blog-master is really childish. Don't think Mr. Leyhane ever thought he would get appointed to the Federal bench by Pres. Obama since he's interested in the Circuit Court of Cook County. So if he never gets appointed there by Trump ain't no thing. Chill out Trump guys, try to be gracious in victory. And stop hearing voices.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jack. I appreciate your own analysis of the election. Unfortunately the comments above show just how ugly this election was and may continue to be for a while. It seems like the comments are coming from people currently sitting on the bench or practicing law. We watch and see them daily.

Jack Leyhane said...

I don't want to respond to specific comments but the two-part anonymous commenter above makes the assertion that in all those "red" counties, voters were giving vent to their most base and racist urges.

Lord knows, there was some of that. The media made sure we knew who David Duke was supporting.

But... and this is important... and it wasn't just in Illinois either... a lot of these "red" counties were blue four and eight years ago when Mr. Obama was at the top of the ticket. No, that's not the case everywhere -- but in so many places it was true and was the very reason why Mr. Obama was elected---twice---and Ms. Clinton was not. To dismiss all Trump voters as racist bigots may be comforting on some level, but why did these same 'racist bigots' vote twice for Mr. Obama? Maybe it was just different turnout... but I can't prove that one way or the other. Can you?

Exit polls indicate that, among Latinos, Trump outperformed Romney. Latinos! How is this possible? It can't be possible if the only acceptable answers are hate and bigotry. Maybe it was people lying to pollsters... but I can't prove that either. How about you?

Maybe we need to refrain from immediate and wholesale condemnations of nearly half of our fellow citizens.

All I'm saying is we should look more carefully at what happened here before we leap to such broad and horrifying, damning conclusions.

Anonymous said...

@ Part I and II - The Clinton email server and Clinton Foundation a red herring? WOW !!! Call it like it is. That was set up so that her corrupt and illegal influence peddling would be shielded from FOIA requests. The Clintons were selling the U.S. Government to the benefit of the Clinton Foundation. So glad America has a different smell test than you. Oh, and your comment that Trump is an "unprincipled man with no plans who has a penchant for pathologically lying". The same, but to a much higher degree, according to my smell test, exactly describes the Clintons. Bill Clinton and the Attorney General meeting in private (after the DOJ staff was asked to leave them alone in the DOJ jet) so that they could discuss golf and grandkids? PLEASE !!!
I, and many others, have had enough of that conduct. And, guess what? I'm a huge fan of President Obama, and I am a Democrat. Time for a change.

Anonymous said...

Jack, please give me latitude and let me say something: Stupid, stupid, stupid, white people !!! You do not know the first thing about racism and bigotry. The true face of racism is an old white guy running for president that makes dumb comments which are then turned into sensational soundbites by the media.

Real racism is deep and mostly hidden. It is the well-spoken white judge who never speaks out of turn. The judge who politely smiles to your black or brown face. I, and other people of color know exactly what I am talking about.

I am not the only person who will tell you Trump is an idiot. He is a fool. He is stupid. Believe this, Clinton, and elected officials just like her, are the real concerns. Beautiful words that cover something deeper. I challenge anyone to tell me absolutely anything that Clinton has done in the past 30 years that elevated the black community. I voted for Trump.

Anonymous said...

Very well said Mr. Leyhane. A huge number of people who voted for President Obama twice chose to vote for Trump. They are not bigots, racists, or haters. I am one of those people. My children are mixed race (and beautiful). I voted for Trump because I believe Washington needs to be shaken up and changed. I am not happy the way things are. If it does not work out, we can change again in four years. That is the beauty of our democracy.

Anonymous said...

Jack, I made a typo !! My comment should have been: "The true face of racism is NOT an old white guy running for president that makes dumb comments which are then turned into sensational soundbites by the media." My apologies and thank you for posting my original comment.

Anonymous said...

Jack, I am a lifelong Democrat. I could not vote for Clinton or Trump. It really hurt me to cast my ballot that way. When it was reported that the DNC and the Clintons tilted the primary playing field against Sanders I was deeply turned off. I hate cheating and dishonesty. Then it was reported that the DNC, with Clinton's knowledge, paid protestors to incite violence at Trump campaign rallies, then the next day Clinton would blame Trump for deliberately inciting violence, I was horrified. When it was later reported that Donna Brazile, new head of the DNC, and on staff with CNN at time, leaked presidential debate questions to Clinton, I was done.

On election night, CNN's Van Jones, self-righteously asked how do we explain the election results to our children? I told my young daughter that Donald Trump won, and in my opinion, Hillary Clinton should have won, but she got caught cheating and being dishonest too many times. Even though the shock is over and the dust is settling, my disappointment in Hillary Clinton's cheating and dishonesty has not faded. My little girl, and your little girl or boy, deserved to be inspired by the first female president. How historic it would have been. Just as we were all inspired by President Obama. This is a terrible shame. Hillary Clinton let herself, and all of America down. Trump did not win, Clinton lost. And we lost. And that is one thing you can not blame on Trump.

Anonymous said...

Jack. I'm sorry your column exposed the judges and lawyers of the Alt-Right.

Anonymous said...

In all these many years, this is your worst title for a post. "Trump's America"? This is your America, Jack. An America were for the past eight years a record of unfulfilled promises mounted from a president elected on hope. A president who turned the working person's party into an unrecognizable orgy of Hollywood left-wing liberalism supported by a biased media. A president who was going to heal the racial divide and cut national debt.

Trump, like Clinton, is an incredibly flawed candidate. But he was not running for the office of Pope. As a Democrat, I recognized that Trump would be a candidate, if elected, would destroy not only the Republican establishment, but the Democratic establishment as well. No more Bush and Romney. But no more Clinton and Obama. That happening appealed to me.

President Obama said his legacy was on the ballot. This is my America too, and it is going in the wrong direction, and Clinton promised to continue that course. This Democrat who voted for Carter, Clinton and Obama; voted for Trump.