So, this is interesting.
According to a broad swath of popular understanding, Donald Trump will be the next president because he narrowly won three critical states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — powered by working class voters frustrated with economic intransigence.
But that’s not what exit polling shows in those states…. Exit polls show Hillary Clinton winning a majority of the vote from people who told pollsters that the economy was the most important issue facing the country. What’s more, in each state, a majority of voters said that was the case….
How can she win a majority of the majority and still lose? Because she lost with other groups worse.
The exit poll questionnaire gave voters a choice between four options for the most important issue. Clinton was generally preferred by those who said foreign policy was the most important issue, too, but Trump was preferred by those who saw immigration or terrorism as most important. The key is the margins. On average, about 13 percent of people in the 27 states said foreign policy was most important and they preferred Clinton by an average of 30 points. On average, voters who said the economy was most important preferred Clinton by 7.3. But on terrorism, rated most important by a fifth of voters, on average, Trump led by an average of 21.8 points. On immigration (most important to an average of 12.2 percent of respondents)? A huge 42.1 percentage point lead for Trump.
Shorter: a majority of swing-state voters said the economy was the most important issue, and among those voters, Hillary won by about 7 points. But she got slaughtered among voters who said terrorism or immigration was the #1 issue. Bottom line:
across the country, the story told by the exit polls seems clear: Trump didn’t win because people were worried about the economy. He won thanks to people who were worried about the subjects of immigration and terrorism that he started hammering on from the very first day of his campaign.
Now, exit polling isn’t always right, so take this with the appropriate amount of salt. But before you buy into the frame that Democrats lost because of their economic message, look into what the data show. It’s maybe not so clear.