However, Clinton’s popular vote lead came overwhelmingly from densely populated and left-leaning states like California. Relative to Barack Obama, she underperformed in key midwestern states, ultimately losing the Electoral College by 74 votes and costing the Democrats the White House.
To better understand this loss, I turned to exit polls, surveys of voters taken directly after voting. Exit polls are a great resource for understanding why a Democratic majority has failed to emerge over the last 10 years. They are specifically designed to help pundits and analysts make sense of electoral outcomes and produce narrative frames.
New York Times exit poll data from the last three midterm and presidential cycles reveals distinct longitudinal trends across demographic dimensions such as gender, race, age, income, educational attainment and ideological alignment.
As one might imagine given the Democrats’ breathtaking electoral collapse, there is basically nothing but bad news for Democrats across the board. The data showed that the voting patterns of key demographic groups shifted dramatically downward from 2008 through 2016.