Elected 45th President of the United States
In 2004, the end of Vermont Governor, Howard Dean’s presidential aspirations ended over an awkward on stage scream, for Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney, his chances died when his remarks about 47 percent of Americans feeling “entitled” and like “victims” were secretly taped and revealed. New York businessman, Donald Trump, took blasphemous and incendiary comments on the presidential campaign trail to new heights, yet in the end, he could not be denied our country’s highest office.
A block of strongly Republican states along with a coalition of swing states swept Trump to a victory that few pundits predicted as possible. Even as polls showed the race tightening in the final week of the campaign, 538’s Nate Silver, known as the presidential prediction guru, gave Trump a mere 35 percent chance of winning the race.
The better funded and traditionally organized “Get Out The Vote” efforts of Secretary Clinton couldn’t get her over the finish line of a race where national polls gave her double digit leads at various points throughout the summer. Favorability bumps from the Democratic Convention and each of the three debates gave Clinton more and more advantages. However, each and every time, Trump responded with an attack mode never before seen in presidential politics.
The strong Latino vote could not deny Trump. Even in swing states like Florida and Nevada where turnout was reportedly 50 percent higher than 2012 and where surveyed Latinos were more excited to vote than four years ago, the Republican candidate was able to surpass these numbers with a high turnout from white males and votes from the South and Midwest parts of the country. Union voters, typically a bastion of Democratic support made states like Ohio and Michigan more competitive than previously thought in favor of Trump.
Perhaps the most amazing part of the Trump victory was his ability to overcome lukewarm support from the Republican Party. In several states the party pulled advertising and funding in the presidential race in order to concentrate their efforts on down-ballot races for congressional and senatorial candidates in swing states. Many of those down-ballot candidates disavowed Trump including Colorado’s own incumbent Congressman, Mike Coffman. In a tight race himself with a large and growing Latino population in his district, Coffman distanced himself in order to preserve a win.
Momentum for those motivated by voting for the first woman nominated for president by a major political party stayed strong throughout the election and helped Secretary Clinton carry big victories in several states. Her inability to attract enough senior citizens and millennials could not overcome the huge Trump advantage in turnout from white males.
Stock market, international relations and state and local government reactions to the Trump victory could determine the direction of the Trump administration in his first 100 days.
Wellesley College and Yale Law School graduate Hillary Clinton clearly had her own political ambition even when First Lady during President Bill Clinton’s eight year stint. Clinton was elected as New York Senator serving eight years from 2001-2009. Later tapped by Obama to become Secretary of State from 2009-2013, she was only the third woman in history to occupy the post. Still, the strongest political resume in recent history didn’t inoculate her from a barrage of successful public attacks from Trump.
Some of the negative narrative stuck to Clinton, giving voters pause throughout the campaign and narrowing her lead dramatically in the last few days before the election. At different points throughout the campaign season, Clinton was given a 90 percent chance of winning but was dogged by private server and email impropriety and “pay for play” rhetoric regarding the Clinton Foundation. By the time candidates traversed the country making final arguments, Clinton’s predicted path to victory became much harder, separated in popular vote polls by a mere two points from New York businessman, Donald Trump.
U.S. Congress and Senate
Trump’s Republican Party leadership jeopardized the candidacy for numerous Congressional candidates in tight races across the country. Thought to be out of reach for Democratic gains, the large Republican majority in the House of Representatives narrowed significantly.
Democrats also made gains in the U.S. Senate where Republicans held a 54-44 seat advantage (two independents, including Bernie Sanders, caucus with the Democrats.) 34 out of 100 seats were up for election this year with the closest races predicted in eight states. In most cases, success in the Senate races foreshadowed winning the state for their party’s presidential candidate. Just prior to Election Day, the swing states of Nevada and Pennsylvania were tilting Democratic and the swing states of Florida (with Republican Senate candidate and former presidential hopeful, Marco Rubio) and New Hampshire skewing Republican.
Once considered a coin-toss race and one of the most competitive Senate campaigns in the country, Democrat incumbent, Michael Bennet, skated to victory over Republican challenger, Darryl Glenn. Unlike Republican Cory Gardner’s success in unseating Democrat Mark Udall two years ago, the Republican ticket was doomed from the start. A lack of consensus around a candidate, diffuse fundraising efforts and fissures in ideology led to Glenn’s emergence with weak support from the Republican Party. In the end, he was no match for the organized and well-funded Bennet who has had some success reaching across the aisle for solutions.
If there were to be any surprises in the make-up of Colorado’s national delegation, it was most likely to come from Congressional District 6 where Mike Coffman has handily defeated Democrats twice over the last four years. This time around, Coffman faced off against State Senator, Morgan Carroll, who brought in prominent Democrats for support including Senator Bernie Sanders, and who received a bump from an ad recorded by President Barack Obama. Carroll did succeed in moderating Coffman’s political stance. Coffman seemed to soften on immigration and called for Donald Trump to “step aside.” Though Carroll provided the most difficult challenge for Coffman yet, the incumbent Republican narrowly succeeded in holding his seat.
The Latino Vote
In a baffling display of hubris, the Republican Party once again blamed immigrants for many of our country’s ills. From Trump’s early campaign sound bites that Mexicans were “criminals and rapists” and his pledge to build a border wall that Mexico would pay for, the demonizing of the immigrant community spilled over into mainstream Latino conversation and a record number of Latinos registered and voted against the Republican candidate. Trump floundered here, winning a lower percentage of Latino votes than Mitt Romney’s 23 percent in 2012.
In swing states like Colorado and Florida, the growth of the Latino population has changed the political landscape in favor of Democrats. Both long considered Republican strongholds, the increase in Latino vote sent a clear message that the Latino vote can never be taken for granted in a national election.
Other states witnessed political muscle flexing by the Latino community as well, turning previously solid red states (Republican) like Arizona and Texas a little more blue (Democrat). The compilation of Trump rhetoric, Republican candidates allied with Trump, and strong down-ballot Democratic candidates including some Latinos, foreshadowed growing Latino electoral strength which will make it harder for candidates that continue to provoke the population’s ire.