Are There Lessons To Be Learned From The Most Expensive Election Ever?

At the time of this writing we still do not know who the president is and what is going to happen in the near term. But one thing is for sure the presidency and people of color have started to shift and there maybe some good reasons for it. Of course, every county in Oklahoma went for President Donald J. Trump. It was not even close, and the lone democrat congresswoman Kendra Horn was soundly beaten. The two State Questions ran into a late buzz saw advertising campaign that scared voters against the well-meaning measures. Oklahoma and its diverse population sent their message along with the rest of America. Let us see if it will register with both parties.

In the presidential vote it is close and multiple lawsuits keep the outcome in temporary doubt although it looks like Vice-President Joe Biden is heading to a close victory if the experts are correct. Trump pulled off the inside straight in 2016 so anything is possible.

Early outcomes paint a changing picture and perhaps there are some reasons as to why people of color voted the way they did. Nationally, exit polls taken by Edison Research and published in the New York Times show Trump increasing his percentage of black votes by 4 percentage points over 2016 totals. At the time black voters supported him with 8 percent of their vote. Similar increases in Hispanic and Latino voters jumped by 4 points over his 2016 totals. In 2016 Hispanic voters supported Trump with 29 percent of their vote. This year nearly one third (32%) voted for Trump according to Edison. Asian voters increased their support for Trump this term by 2 points with a total of 31 percent voting for the incumbent president.

A group that has to include Native Americans called “Other” increased their total support to 40 percent from 37 percent in 2016. Native Americans on social media are complaining to CNN that listed them in a category as “something else” and AP pollsters referred to them as “others.” The group probably included Pacific Islanders and perhaps Middle Eastern voters. The president did see a drop in one racial group: White voters. It amounted to a 1 percent drop from 58 to 57 percent. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received 37 percent of the white vote in 2016. Biden on the other hand received 42 percent of the white vote or 5 points greater than Clinton. Biden also scored better than Clinton among males with 48 percent of the votes.

Trump’s weekly message claimed black workers were employed before the pandemic with the highest employment numbers in history. Former President Barack Obama came in late in the campaign and said the red-hot economy Trump inherited from him was the main reason for the increase and not anything Trump did on his own. That message might have come too late.

It was theorized that the President’s victory in Florida was due in part to the large support for Trump from the communist hating Cuban community. There was little love for Obama and Biden for their outreach to Cuba to stabilize relations. Hispanics, despite Trump’s harsh condemnations against immigrants seeking asylum and in particular Mexicans, voted favorably for Trump. New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said a lack of support for Democrats coming for Hispanics was avoidable.

There was no significant outreach to Hispanic voters of any consequence and the outcome according to AOC was predictable. During Clinton’s runs for the presidency in Indian Country she would not go to Indian Country and only in the last days rolled out an agenda. Her main outreach was to rope in as many leaders to sign on as endorsers. That is not enough, and it equates to little change in those communities and they know it. If you want the brown vote you had better do more. Biden came out with his list of Indian endorsers and support for tribal nations. Obama included Hispanics and Native communities and the outcome was impressive. Black voters were also energized by Obama in 2008 and 2012. There is a map to increased participation and it must be more than superficial.

Biden’s poor showing in Florida may have brought down a pair of Congressional races for Democrats. Trump’s courtship of Florida came early and often. Florida has a rich and diverse population of Latino voters. There are Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Columbians and none are fond of Communists and or socialists. Trump crafted agendas and policies for each group. Florida was never really in play despite what the polls said.

It might be helpful to repeat Trump when he said his supporters are rarely polled and many do not trust outsiders asking questions. This might be a reason for some of the missed polls in Florida. However, the polls appeared to miss by a mile all over the place.

AP exit polls showed 90 percent of black voters going to Biden while Edison has 87 percent voting for the former vice-president. Both showed growing support for Trump among black men. Democrats had better find out why the most reliable demographic is slowly backing away. The simple guess is plain old taking the vote for granted as if African Americans had no where else to go.

Trump endorsed the Lumbee tribe in North Carolina recently in their bid for Federal recognition. The tribe is located in Robeson County and in 2012 Obama received nearly 60 percent of their vote. Did Trump’s endorsement help? In 2020, Trump received nearly 70 percent of the vote. The tribe is famous for driving the KKK from their borders by raiding a cross burning intended to terrorize natives and blacks. There was also a record 6 native Americans elected to congress. Three republicans and three democrats including 2 from Oklahoma.

Has Oklahoma changed? Time will tell, but in the State House District 88 in Oklahoma City Mauree Turner won the election. She is black and is the first openly nonbinary person elected to a state legislature in the nation. Mauree does not self-identify as male or female and is gay. Mauree is also Muslim and a former regional field director for the American Civil Liberties Union Campaign for Smart Justice. Perhaps the times they are a changing in a world that is constantly changing. Politics would do well to remember that people of color are part of this world.