Demographics to favour Clinton in US presidential race

It is going to be difficult for Trump to win elec­tion with little support among minority voters.

Supporters of US Democratic Party Candidate for president Hillary Clinton at George Mason University, on September 16th.

2016/09/25 Issue: 74 Page: 19

The Arab Weekly
Gregory Aftandilian

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.

Gregory Aftandilian is a lecturer at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University and is a former U.S. State Department Middle East analyst.

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