How Obama beget Trump

As we await the reults of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election, our Political Editor, Patrick Sullivan looks into how President Obama's 2012 re-election helped to make Donald Trump's 2016 election possible.

Patrick Sullivan, Political Editor
On 5 November 2020 09:18

Demographer William H. Frey produced a post-election analysis for the Associated Press (AP) which showed that in 2012 the turnout rate amongst Black eligible voters supposed the turnout rate amongst White eligible voters for the first time in a U.S. Presidential election. According to contemporary reporting from Public Radio International:

“Frey found that, had Black and White voters turned out at the same rates they did in 2004, when the White voter turnout rate was higher than the rate for Black voters, Republican Mitt Romney would have won the election.

‘The 2012 turnout is a milestone for Blacks and a huge potential turning point,’ Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University, told the AP. ‘What it suggests is that there is an “Obama effect” where people were motivated to support Barack Obama. But it also means that Black turnout magnet always be higher, if future races aren’t as salient.’”

This data helped set the tone for American political discourse following President Obama’s 2012 re-election. It was expected that Obama’s critics would herald this as the end of traditional America. What was less expected was that many of Obama’s biggest supporters would agree with this analysis. They were euphoric in their glee that demographics was destiny and mused allowed on cable television whether there would ever even be a Republican President again.

It was in this hubris that created the political climate which would help carry Donald Trump to the Oval Office in 2016. This was explained very clearly by PBS’s Hacking Your Mind program, earlier this year:

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