Presidential Election: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Vote, but a Changing Electorate Will Decide

Presidential Election: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Vote, but a Changing Electorate Will Decide

Election Day is here at last. America is set to decide between Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump.

But the long, unusual and often ugly 2016 presidential campaign has been about the country’s changing demographics and the shifting coalitions of the two major parties as much as about the two main candidates.

Trump expresses confidence while criticizing the media and public polls.

In an early-morning interview, Mr. Trump said he would do “very well” in the crucial battleground states of Florida, North Carolina and Ohio, and acknowledged that after nearly a year and a half of campaigning the only thing left for him to do was wait and see.

“We’re going to win a lot of states,” Mr. Trump said on Fox News. “Who knows what happens ultimately?”

His voice raspy from one last after-midnight rally, Mr. Trump took some digs at Mrs. Clinton for enlisting celebrities to bolster her crowds and he assailed the news media for trying to keep him down. A self-proclaimed lover of polls, Mr. Trump said he no longer believes most of them.

“I do think a lot of the polls are purposely wrong,” he said. “I don’t even think they interview people, I think they just put out phony numbers.”

But there is one vote that the Republican nominee knew he could count on this Election Day.

“I’ve decided to vote for Trump,” Mr. Trump said.

But one of his former advisers has harsh words for his Nevada operation.

“Frankly, Trump has run one of the worst campaigns in modern political history in the state,” said Roger Stone, a strategist who has advised Mr. Trump at different times over the last 30 years, in an interview on Boston Herald Radio.

Clinton and Trump vote.

Parents held their children in the air to get a glimpse as Mrs. Clinton voted for herself in Chappaqua, N.Y., on Tuesday morning.

“It’s a humbling feeling,” Mrs. Clinton said.

Mr. Trump appeared to be in good spirits when he arrived at a Manhattan polling place on the Upper East Side just before 11 a.m. with his wife, Melania, to vote for himself.

He was met with a mix of cheers and boos as he left his motorcade and waved to pedestrians.

Inside Public School 59, Mr. Trump shook hands with other voters and offered high-fives to some children who came along with their parents.

The vice-presidential candidates also voted in the morning.

In a display of Election Day punctuality, Mrs. Clinton’s running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, and his wife, Anne Holton, arrived at their polling place in Richmond before Virginia’s polls had opened. They cast their ballots just after 6 a.m.

“We feel good,” Mr. Kaine told reporters afterward. “It’s kind of like we’ve done all we can do and now it’s in the hands of the voters. But we feel really comfortable about it.”

Gov. Mike Pence did not have far to go to cast his ballot. Flanked by his wife, Karen, and his daughter, Charlotte, Mr. Pence walked across the street from Indiana’s governor’s mansion to St. Thomas Aquinas Church shortly before noon.

Mr. Pence told reporters and supporters on hand that he was “humbled” to be able to choose himself and Mr. Trump.

Long voting lines could have long-term consequences.

Early voters, urban voters and minority voters are all more likely to wait and wait. And that makes them less likely to vote in the future, according to new research. Minority voters are six times as likely as whites to wait longer than an hour to vote. Those disparities persist even within the same town or county, suggesting they don’t reflect simply the greater difficulty of putting on elections in populous cities.

In a battle of the belts, it’s Sun vs. Rust.

The changing nature of the presidential map can be deduced from where Mrs. Clinton went on Monday. She was assured enough of her prospects for winning Florida, a state that George W. Bush won twice, to not return to the biggest battleground of them all, but she held her second event in four days in Michigan, a state no Republican has won since 1988.

Mrs. Clinton’s aides express confidence that the results will go their way, in large part because of their optimism about Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia, but they are less bullish about their prospects in Michigan and states like Iowa and Ohio. It is a striking turnabout given how rooted Democrats once were in the heavily unionized Midwest and how much they struggled in the South and parts of the West.

But they have effectively swapped much of their working-class white base for the so-called rising demographic of millennials, nonwhite voters and suburbanites clustered near cities such as Denver, Miami, Las Vegas and Washington.

From watching these communities, it will become clear on Tuesday why Mrs. Clinton’s party enjoys a structural advantage in the Electoral College. But this election may also hasten the day when more of the heartland becomes out of reach, illustrating what Democrats lost as much as what they gained.

Hillary Clinton, with former President Bill Clinton, greeted people outside the polling station in Chappaqua, N.Y., after they voted Tuesday morning.
Hillary Clinton, with former President Bill Clinton, greeted people outside the polling station in Chappaqua, N.Y., after they voted Tuesday morning.

Could it be Madam President?

Mrs. Clinton could sweep away the gender barrier from the White House, yet her history-making potential has not received the attention that Mr. Obama’s candidacy did when he broke the presidential color line eight years ago.

But that is not to say her potential to be America’s first female president, along with the boorish comments that Mr. Trump has made about women, have not captured the attention of many voters. In every battleground state, the share of women as a percentage of the overall electorate has been higher in early voting than it was in the 2012 election.

Women, especially those with college degrees, have been galvanized this year. If they continue with their trend in the early vote and outperform their turnout from 2012, Mr. Trump could face a punishing defeat.

What is Trump’s way forward?

Mr. Trump has one real path to the presidency: run up the score among white voters without a college degree enough to compensate for his losses among well-educated and nonwhite voters.

National surveys suggest Mr. Trump is poised to fare far better among white voters without a degree than Mr. Romney did four years ago, even if the same surveys show Mrs. Clinton in the lead. He leads that group by an average of 30 points in recent national surveys, compared to Mr. Romney’s 23-point edge in 2012.

If the polls and reporting are correct, Mr. Trump could make big gains in places that have been Democratic strongholds for generations, like Scranton, Pa.; Youngstown, Ohio; or Duluth, Minn.

Mr. Trump excelled in these areas in the Republican primary. The old bastions of the industrial left in Britain voted resoundingly to leave the European Union this year.

The Hispanic population, a sleeping giant, is now awake.

The Hispanic turnout will be far higher than it was in 2012: The number of Hispanics who voted early in Florida this year is about the same as the total number that voted four years ago. The same story holds in heavily Hispanic areas across the country, whether the Latino neighborhoods of Las Vegas or the Texas counties along the Rio Grande.

Mrs. Clinton’s exact margin among Hispanic voters could prove just as important. She will probably win Latino voters by an even wider margin than Mr. Obama did, but polls have not always been clear on just how much she might beat Mr. Obama’s 2012 results. He won Latino voters by a margin of 71 percent to 27 percent, according to exit polls.

The Latino vote has the best shot of deciding the election in Florida, where Hispanic voters represent a well-above-average share of the population. Mr. Trump does not have a credible path to the presidency without the state’s 29 electoral votes.

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