Demographics to favour Clinton in US presidential race
Washington - Despite a narrowing of the polls between Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton and the Republican Party’s Donald Trump in the race for president, the United States’ changing demographics have produced more minority voters, making it difficult for Trump to win the election, especially as minority voters are numerous in a number of battleground states.
US presidential elections are won by the candidate who wins the electoral college, a tally that is made up of electoral numbers assigned to individual states based on congressional representation and not on who wins the nationwide popular vote. Key battleground states with high electoral vote counts include Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia. In these states, minority voters can tip the balance in close elections.
Trump was successful in the Republican primaries largely because his lack of political correctness appealed to many white working-class Republicans. Trump’s rhetoric, however, frequently offended Hispanics, African Americans, Muslims and other minority groups. These groups have not forgiven him despite outreach efforts.
Trump recently has been highlighting the supposed failures of Democratic policies aimed at helping African Americans and asking those voters: “What do you have to lose by voting for me?” Many African Americans see such comments as patronising and dismissive of the strides their community has made.
Political analysts have suggested that such comments by Trump were not aimed at African Americans but at suburban white, middle-class Republicans who want to hear Trump being more empathetic towards minorities.
One of Trump’s main problems with the African-American community has been his role in perpetuating the birther movement — the claim that US President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and therefore an illegitimate leader. This effort to delegitimise the first African-American president was viewed by many as racist, a belief shared by former Republican secretary of State Colin Powell, according to his hacked and leaked e-mail messages.
Although Trump has admitted that Obama was born in the United States, he offered no apology for his past actions, merely saying that he no longer wanted to talk about it. This is a political mistake on Trump’s part, as African-Americans make up about 13% of the electorate. According to recent polls, fewer than 3% of African-Americans expressed support for Trump.
Similarly, despite Trump’s late August trip to Mexico and attempted outreach to Hispanics, he continues to do poorly with this growing demographic, now close to 18% of the electorate. Much of Trump’s problem with Latinos was his labelling of undocumented Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists but what upset the Latino community even more was his attack against US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the son of legal Mexican immigrants, who is presiding over a lawsuit against the defunct Trump University.
Trump referred to the judge as a “Mexican”, even though the judge was born in the United States, and suggested he could not be impartial in the case because of Trump’s advocacy of building a wall along the US-Mexico border. From all accounts, the judge had impeccable credentials and the Latino community is proud that one of their own has achieved a prominent and respected position. They saw Trump’s attempt to question the judge’s integrity as both racist and the ultimate put-down because of the implication that Curiel could not do his job properly.
The most recent Republican to win the White House, George W. Bush, won 44% of the Latino vote in 2004 and 35% in 2000. Trump will be lucky to get half as many Latino votes.
The growing Muslim-American community is also going to be a factor in the election. Muslim Americans are close to 2% of the electorate and Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric has galvanised the community to register and vote.
Khurrum Wahid, a Muslim- American lawyer and activist told the Washington Post that there are close to 1 million Muslim-American voters in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. “With a decent voter turnout in those states,” Wahid said, “Muslims will be a swing vote in both the presidential and many close House (of Representatives) races.”
Although Clinton has had her share of stumbles, it is going to be difficult for Trump to win the election with such little support among minority voters. Clinton’s challenge is to ensure that these minorities vote in large numbers in November.