Donald Trump, soon to be the 45th president of the United States, lost the popular vote by 2.5 million votes. He lost the vote in the nation’s largest 100 counties by 12.6 million votes. He overwhelmingly lost the vote among college graduates country-wide. He lost the black, Latino, and Asian-American votes. Ninety percent of the people in his own city voted against him. Only six publications in the entire country were willing to endorse him.
Add this data point to those sobering statistics about just how lopsided Trump’s win was: According to research done by Mark Muro of the Brookings Institute, a nonprofit public policy organization, Trump also lost the economic vote: 65% of America’s GDP voted against the self-proclaimed billionaire.
To put this in perspective, this has literally never happened before. It is simply unprecedented, says Munro, for a losing presidential candidate to have represented so large a share of nation’s economic base. If votes were real American dollars, Clinton’s allotment of the GDP would allow her to outspend Trump two to one. To put it in perspective, in 2000, Al Gore–another popular vote winner–won only 54% of the country’s GDP, despite winning 1,000 more counties than Hilary won in 2016.
Why did Hillary carry so much of the country’s GDP? As the Brookings Institute’s report makes clear, it is largely because the Clinton campaign carried the vast majority of urban counties. In fact, with the exception of Phoenix; Fort Worth, Texas; and some of Long Island, New York, Clinton won every large-sized county economy in the country, leading Munro to sum up:
[T]he stark political divide underscores the likelihood of the two parties talking entirely past each other on the most important issues of economic policy. Given the election map we revealed, the Trump administration will likely feel pressure to respond most to the desires and frustrations of the nation’s struggling hinterland, and discount the priorities and needs of the nation’s high-output economic base.
The truth is that this country is looking at the greatest divide between urban and non-urban America since the Dust Bowl. It’s easy to see echoes of today’s urban/rural divide in the “dirty 30s” when New Yorkers, irritated by dust clouds blown into their city from thousands of miles away, suggested that they should send all of their old automobiles to Oklahoma to help keep the dirt down.
Like then, we need to actually reach out to help the people being left behind economically in rural America–something that will, ironically, no doubt be even more difficult with Trump in office.