Congratulations to Reluctant Trump, You Won the Election

 

Ever since Donald Trump’s surprising (at least to me) victory on November 8, many have wondered exactly what happened and why the pre-election polls were so very wrong. We may finally have an answer. Last week Edison Research released its breakdown of exit polls and their conclusion is both heartening to me and good news for conservatives.

Edison identified a “hidden group” of voters that made all the difference in swinging the election to Trump. This group who they identify as the “Neithers” is what is affectionately known around these parts as ReluctantTrump. While Hillary maintained a decided favorability lead over Trump, it turns out that 18 percent of the electorate found neither candidate acceptable. The surprising finding is that this 18 percent broke for Trump in a major way:

2016-exit-poll-data-the-neithers

The effect was even more pronounced in the five swing states that broke the Democrats’ “Blue Wall” and handed Trump an electoral college victory:

2016-11-30-08_38_49-the-hidden-group-that-won-the-election-for-trump_-exit-poll-analysis-from-edison

In the end, it wasn’t Trump’s Personality Cultists or Republican Party Loyalists who won this election, but a significant group of voters pinching their noses and gritting their teeth: our very own Reluctant Trumpers.

There is not much offered in terms of the actual poll data, so this is only a surface analysis, but what is there points to a few conclusions I consider good for conservatives:

  1. Trump did not win by riding a populist wave. Had the Democrats offered up even a mildly acceptable candidate the Neithers could easily have broken the other way or stayed home. The margins of victory in the five swing states were very narrow and any slight shift in how they broke would have thrown the election to the Democrats.
  2. Between them, Donald Trump and Gary Johnson received 64 percent of the Neither vote. This indicates to me that they are a decidedly right-of-center group (despite allusions in the piece about a significant portion being “favorable” to President Obama).
  3. In the states where there were Senate elections, the decidedly more conservative senatorial candidates won by larger margins than Trump did, which indicates even more room for victory on a conservative agenda.

This gives conservatives far more power in a Trump administration than they would have had if Trump won merely by riding a populist wave. In order to pass his agenda, Trump will need the Neithers in his camp. If they are really made up of ReluctantTrump Conservatives, as I suspect, this is the opportunity to push Trump in the right direction. In this respect, NeverTrump may have been dreadfully wrong; reluctantly backing Trump may indeed end up as the smarter conservative play, as Ricochet First Citizen @tommeyer pointed out in The Federalist.

Congratulations ReluctantTrump, this election continues to prove me and other NeverTrumpers wrong; let’s hope it proves us wrong in the most important of our criticisms. Let’s hope we get actual conservative governance.

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  1. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll
    @DavidCarroll

    Thanks.  I accept your gracious congratulations.

    • #1
  2. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Interesting and excellent post.

    However, I’m not sure I agree with this:

    Jamie Lockett: Had the Democrats offered up even a mildly acceptable candidate the Neithers could easily have broken the other way or stayed home.

    The reason I question it is that the Democrats lost a few congressional and gubernatorial races as well. Instead, I think it was the economy—which, admittedly has been good for some people. This was a moment for the electorate to say that the Obama years have not been kind to them.

    And those ObamaCare bills that went out in October . . .  : )

    I’d love to see the numbers on how incumbents fared generally. My father-in-law was an old-time Democrat who often took a “vote ’em out” ballot approach.

    • #2
  3. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Trump did not win by riding a populist wave. Had the Democrats offered up even a mildly acceptable candidate the Neithers could easily have broken the other way or stayed home. The margins of victory in the 5 swing states were very narrow and any slight shift in how they broke would have thrown the election to the Democrats.

    Should we accept this as an either/or though?  One can also postulate that Trump would not have won even with the Neithers had he not attracted a populist/Reagan Democrat vote.  I don’t disagree that the Neithers were instrumental based on the data, but I don’t think the two camps in the coalition are mutually exclusive.  He may owe his election to both.

    • #3
  4. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Hoyacon:

    Trump did not win by riding a populist wave. Had the Democrats offered up even a mildly acceptable candidate the Neithers could easily have broken the other way or stayed home. The margins of victory in the 5 swing states were very narrow and any slight shift in how they broke would have thrown the election to the Democrats.

    Should we accept this as an either/or though? One can also postulate that Trump would not have won even with the Neithers had he not attracted a populist/Regan Democrat vote. I don’t disagree that the Neithers were instrumental based on the data, but I don’t think the two camps in the coalition are mutually exclusive. He may owe his election to both.

    This is also most likely true. Putting it in a binary way was probably a mistake. I still think that my conclusion that conservatives have more power in a Trump administration because of ReluctantTrump holds.

    • #4
  5. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    MarciN:Interesting and excellent post.

    However, I’m not sure I agree with this:

    Jamie Lockett: Had the Democrats offered up even a mildly acceptable candidate the Neithers could easily have broken the other way or stayed home.

    The reason I question it is that the Democrats lost a few congressional and gubernatorial races as well. Instead, I think it was the economy—which, admittedly has been good for some people—and this was a moment for the electorate to say that the Obama years have not been kind to them.

    And those ObamaCare bills that went out in October . . . : )

    I’d love to see the numbers on how incumbents fared generally. My father-in-law was an old-time Democrat who often took a “vote ’em out” ballot approach.

    Perhaps, but despite all of those things, the election was razor thin (don’t let the electoral college fool you). A few thousand votes either way in a few states and we’d have President Hillary Clinton. That indicates that a less awful candidate could have eeked out a win by reducing the number of “Neithers”.

    • #5
  6. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Thanks, Jamie.  I’ve intuited something like this for some time (although I don’t believe it’s possible to derive hard-and-fast–perhaps what you’re calling ‘binary’* rules from analysis of most post-election data).

    But it seems only logical to me, based on the confessions of the (Almost)NeverTrumpers here on Ricochet (small sample size, agreed) who in the end became the most reluctant of Trump voters, that their participation probably made a significant difference in closely-called states, and most likely negated the efforts of various Monster Raving Loony Party equivalents to muck things up.

    *And now that the election is over, please can we retire the word “binary,” at least for the rest of this year.  I really never want to hear it again.

    • #6
  7. Quake Voter Inactive
    Quake Voter
    @QuakeVoter

    MarciN: And those ObamaCare bills that went out in October . . . : )

    Still scratching my head on this one.  Think of all the roll-out contortions and deferrals and postponements and yet the bills still went out one month before the election which decided the ACA’s fate?

    Jamie, thanks for the very cogently argued and smartly presented post.

    I agree that one of the keys to getting that hoped-for conservative governance from an anti-liberal president is the Reluctant Trumpers in his administration and the conservative media, hopefully ready with carrots as well as sticks. (Though some Bobby Clarke stickwork from Fox from time to time might help.)

    The other, which I think is underappreciated, is the Winners vs. Losers influence.  Republicans are, right now, from the county courthouse to Congress the former and the Democrats have the L pasted on their foreheads.  This matters to Trump and his choice of direction in a way it simply wouldn’t for a Cruz or a Paul.

     

    • #7
  8. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    And in every post-2016 election wrap-up we need to the devil her due and give a shout-out to Hillary for being one of the worst political figures in the Americas.  Now that Castro and Chavez are dead, she may even be number one on that list. Thank you for all you did to make this happy surprise come to pass, Ms. C.

    • #8
  9. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    To the pollsters, many friends, contacts and the general public, I am squarely in the bell curve of this Reluctant Trump group. I was for Ted Cruz in the primary.

    At R>, I’m defined as a Rabble and thus a Trump supporter, rather than as Reluctant Trump. I would self identify as Reluctant Trump and even more specifically as ABC (Anybody But Clinton).

    I’m the same guy, but I’m just more candid about it here and thus debated the Nevers about even Trump being infinitely preferable to more socialism inflicted upon the nation by HRC (see @davecarter Repair Shop article).

    It looks like even vociferous NeverTrumper Jim Geraghty at NR (incoming cabinet looks pretty darn good so far) is coming around to the vast benefits of Trump/Pence for America.

    • #9
  10. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Columbo:At R>, I’m defined as a Rabble and thus a Trump supporter, rather than as Reluctant Trump.

    Self-defined.

     

    • #10
  11. Mike Hubbard Member
    Mike Hubbard
    @MikeHubbard

    Jamie Lockett: 2) Between them, Donald Trump and Gary Johnson received 64% of the Neither vote. This indicates to me that they are a decidedly right of center group (despite allusions in the piece about a significant portion being “favorable” to President Obama).

    Er, didn’t we spend a great deal of time arguing that Trump isn’t much of a conservative and that Gary Johnson isn’t much of a libertarian?  It isn’t that hard to find libertarians who will happily take social security checks and conservatives who are fine with legalized abortion.  I don’t think we have a majority of the public that backs a traditional right of center policy agenda.

    • #11
  12. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Mike Hubbard:

    Jamie Lockett: 2) Between them, Donald Trump and Gary Johnson received 64% of the Neither vote. This indicates to me that they are a decidedly right of center group (despite allusions in the piece about a significant portion being “favorable” to President Obama).

    Er, didn’t we spend a great deal of time arguing that Trump isn’t much of a conservative and that Gary Johnson isn’t much of a libertarian? It isn’t that hard to find libertarians who will happily take social security checks and conservatives who are fine with legalized abortion. I don’t think we have a majority of the public that backs a traditional right of center policy agenda.

    Maybe, but in an imperfect system people make imperfect choices.

    • #12
  13. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Columbo:At R>, I’m defined as a Rabble and thus a Trump supporter, rather than as Reluctant Trump.

    Self-defined.

    Very true.

    I would also argue that the entire existence of said Group was to offer a different perspective from the NeverTrump mantra that was articulated here post primary, and most especially on the Main Feed. The self definition was a matter of both survival at R> as a voice and an attempt at persuading Reluctants that supporting the GOP nominee was neither supporting the party at any cost or being Trump cultists. It was a matter of survival for our country (see @davecarter Repair Shop article).

    You’re welcome.

    • #13
  14. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    This rings true – though I agree with Hoyacon about the credit being shared – because I’m one of the group profiled by Edison, though my vote made little difference in deep red Idaho.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m so far reasonably pleased with Trump’s actual behavior once elected.  The campaign taught me to tune out both the MSM and NeverTrumper bleats about what he says, and watch what he does.  I still grit my teeth at the twitterrhea – but have to acknowledge that he knows better than I how to work around the media and leftist establishment.

     

    • #14
  15. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Columbo:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Columbo:At R>, I’m defined as a Rabble and thus a Trump supporter, rather than as Reluctant Trump.

    Self-defined.

    Very true.

    I would also argue that the entire existence of said Group was to offer a different perspective from the NeverTrump mantra that was articulated here post primary, and most especially on the Main Feed. The self definition was a matter of both survival at R> as a voice and an attempt at persuading Reluctants that supporting the GOP nominee was neither supporting the party at any cost or being Trump cultists. It was a matter of survival for our country (see @davecarter Repair Shop article).

    You’re welcome.

    This is not what this thread is about. I’d prefer it if you take said arguments elsewhere.

    • #15
  16. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Locke On:This rings true – though I agree with Hoyacon about the credit being shared – because I’m one of the group profiled by Edison, though my vote made little difference in deep red Idaho.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m so far reasonably pleased with Trump’s actual behavior once elected. The campaign taught me to tune out both the MSM and NeverTrumper bleats about what he says, and watch what he does. I still grit my teeth at the twitterrhea – but have to acknowledge that he knows better than I how to work around the media and leftist establishment.

    I agree that so far the cabinet selections have been good, but he hasn’t actually done anything yet so it’s best to reserve judgment. As for the “bleating” about what he says – keep in mind that what the President says can have very real effects on the world. His twitterhea will matter come January.

    • #16
  17. jmelvin Member
    jmelvin
    @jmelvin

    Although I would have identified myself as a Never Trump kind of guy early on, once it became clear that a good conservative option for president was not going to be an option I found myself a reluctant Trump voter.  As a Virginian, I have now lived through a couple years of Governor McAuliffe , who resulted from the split of some of the conservative vote in the state between Cuccinelli, Sarvis, and those who just stayed home.  Although I supported Cuccinelli with a little reservation, I have now been stuck with the worst of the 3 options, because one of those 3 was going to be governor.  I am a bit relieved at some of Trump’s executive agency picks, but obviously the man is not yet in office.  I think when all is through, I will be more satisfied with him as a president than Hillary and that’s enough for me.

    • #17
  18. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Jamie Lockett: Edison identified a “hidden group” of voters that made all the difference in swinging the election to Trump. This group who they identify as the “Neithers” is what is affectionately known around these parts as ReluctantTrump. While Hillary maintained a decided favorability lead over Trump, it turns out that 18% of the electorate found neither candidate acceptable. The surprising finding is that this 18 percent broke for Trump in a major way

    Is this really a surprising finding?  Isn’t it pretty much a truism of political science that undecideds will break against the incumbent?  True, Hillary wasn’t the actual office holder, but she certainly was seen as an Obama third term.  Obama made that pretty explicit in his late campaigning for her.

     

    • #18
  19. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Jamie Lockett:In the end, it wasn’t Trump’s Personality Cultists or Republican Party Loyalists who won this election, but a significant group of voters pinching their noses and gritting their teeth: our very own Reluctant Trumpers.

    There is not much offered in terms of the actual poll data, so this is only a surface analysis,

    It would be interesting to see the “neithers” broken down by past voting history. Only those who previously voted R could properly be called “our very own Reluctant Trumpers.”

    Also, don’t ignore a possible Bradley effect. Even if willing to admit to voting for Trump, a moderately enthusiastic Trumper might not want to admit to the enthusiasm.

    • #19
  20. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    So the conservatives voted for the Republican candidate. This is not a surprise.

    Some libertarians and those conservatives who had other loyalties didn’t vote for the Republican candidate. Well, this happens. But there weren’t very many of them – Thank God.

    • #20
  21. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    ctlaw:

    Jamie Lockett:In the end, it wasn’t Trump’s Personality Cultists or Republican Party Loyalists who won this election, but a significant group of voters pinching their noses and gritting their teeth: our very own Reluctant Trumpers.

    There is not much offered in terms of the actual poll data, so this is only a surface analysis,

    It would be interesting to see the “neithers” broken down by past voting history. Only those who previously voted R could properly be called “our very own Reluctant Trumpers.”

    Also, don’t ignore a possible Bradley effect. Even if willing to admit to voting for Trump, a moderately enthusiastic Trumper might not want to admit to the enthusiasm.

    This is probably true, and as I indicated the data isn’t available so it’s hard to determine anything more than surface judgments.

    • #21
  22. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Larry Koler:So the conservatives voted for the Republican candidate. This is not a surprise.

    Some libertarians and those conservatives who had other loyalties didn’t vote for the Republican candidate. Well, this happens. But there weren’t very many of them – Thank God.

    I don’t think that is indicated at all, Larry. You can’t break this down on who “conservatives” voted for or determine the motivations of those that didn’t end up voting for Trump based on this data.

    • #22
  23. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Old Bathos:And in every post-2016 election wrap-up we need to the devil her due and give a shout-out to Hillary for being one of the worst political figures in the Americas. Now that Castro and Chavez are dead, she may even be number one on that list. Thank you for all you did to make this happy surprise come to pass, Ms. C.

    I’m not sure. I’d place Kirchner, Maduro, and the surviving Castro above (below?) her at least.

    • #23
  24. livingthehighlife Inactive
    livingthehighlife
    @livingthehighlife

    Jamie Lockett:

    Locke On:This rings true – though I agree with Hoyacon about the credit being shared – because I’m one of the group profiled by Edison, though my vote made little difference in deep red Idaho.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m so far reasonably pleased with Trump’s actual behavior once elected. The campaign taught me to tune out both the MSM and NeverTrumper bleats about what he says, and watch what he does. I still grit my teeth at the twitterrhea – but have to acknowledge that he knows better than I how to work around the media and leftist establishment.

    I agree that so far the cabinet selections have been good, but he hasn’t actually done anything yet so it’s best to reserve judgment. As for the “bleating” about what he says – keep in mind that what the President says can have very real effects on the world. His twitterhea will matter come January.

    This is my current position.  I like a few of his picks, but there’s been some other actions that if carried into the White House I have serious issue with.  There’s a dignity that comes with the office of the President of the United States, and I expect our presidents to rise to that bar, not tussle in the Twitter trenches like a schoolgirl.

    • #24
  25. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    David Carroll:Thanks. I accept your gracious congratulations.

    As do I. Not, that I am any great prognosticator. Got it right this time.

    • #25
  26. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Jamie Lockett: . Putting it in a binary way was probably a mistake.

    Well, many of us Rabble think “binary” was the right way to look at things. ;)

    • #26
  27. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    Jamie Lockett:

    Larry Koler:So the conservatives voted for the Republican candidate. This is not a surprise.

    Some libertarians and those conservatives who had other loyalties didn’t vote for the Republican candidate. Well, this happens. But there weren’t very many of them – Thank God.

    I don’t think that is indicated at all, Larry. You can’t break this down on who “conservatives” voted for or determine the motivations of those that didn’t end up voting for Trump based on this data.

    Why did you say this then: “… their conclusion is both heartening to me and good news for conservatives.” Did I misunderstand something?

    Also, the “neithers” aren’t really there — after all they did vote, they did choose. They were pretending to be neithers but decided that when it came down to it — just like many people said they would — they would decide. I read it many times in the runup to the election that NTs were mostly really just a small part of the entitled elite — those who could afford to weather a Hillary if it meant that the status quo would continue.

    Let me hasten to add that I do understand the polling of people who were claiming to be neithers — because that was so in vogue — but I’m wondering a little bit how that block of voters was identified and how they were asked about their status as neithers.

    • #27
  28. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    livingthehighlife:

    I like a few of his picks, but there’s been some other actions that if carried into the White House I have serious issue with. There’s a dignity that comes with the office of the President of the United States, and I expect our presidents to rise to that bar, not tussle in the Twitter trenches like a schoolgirl.

    Minor quibble: schoolgirls are never found in the trenches — they are the Republicans who are terrified of the media and the Dems.

    • #28
  29. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    At first I was going to question your congratulations.  Everyone who voted in opposition to Hillary Clinton deserves a pat on the back.

    Then I remembered:  had Clinton won, anyone and everyone who’d ever said anything critical of Trump would have been to blame.

    So I take it back.

    • #29
  30. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Larry Koler: schoolgirls are never found in the trenches

    But you do find quite a few of them whining on social media.

    • #30

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