Trump inherits a divided America

Across the nation, Tuesday’s election results revealed an electorate starkly divided by race, gender, education and geography — from Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE’s stunning win over Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE to a series of ballot measures that will further the long segregation between red America and blue America.

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In the presidential contest, exit polls showed a deeply split nation that Trump, or any politician, will struggle to unite. Whites backed Trump by a 21-point margin while non-whites favored Clinton by more than three-to-one. 

White college graduates backed the Republican by just 4 points, while those without college degrees favored him by almost 40 points. 

Voters under 45 favored Clinton by wide margins; voters over 45 backed Trump by similar margins. 

Protestants and Catholics both gave Trump majorities of their votes, while Jews and those who do not practice a religion voted for Clinton by more than 40 points.

And 59 percent of people who live in cities and other urban areas voted for Clinton, while 62 percent of rural voters backed Trump. That’s a larger percentage of rural support than won by Mitt Romney in 2012. 

It added up to an electoral college triumph for Trump but a likely popular vote win for Clinton — and with two Americas unable to comprehend each other’s choices. 

More than half of voters said they would be concerned or scared if Trump or Clinton won, setting up a large swath of voters for disappointment regardless of who emerged the victor. 

About half of Americans, 45 percent, believe the government should do more; those voters gave Clinton 74 percent of the vote. Among the 50 percent who said government is doing too much, 73 percent backed Trump.

Across the nation, Tuesday’s results furthered the divergence between states run by Democrats and those run by Republicans.

States already facing an historic partisan divide split even farther. Before Election Day, 31 states were fully controlled by one party or the other. When new legislators are sworn in later this year or early in 2017, four more states — New Hampshire, Missouri, Kentucky and Iowa — will be completely controlled by one party (Two states, Vermont and North Carolina, moved to divided control.)

The number of one-party states could rise even higher in the next two years, as states such as West Virginia, Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota and Virginia elect governors.

It’s not just elected officials: Voters in those divided states are moving farther apart, too. 

California on Tuesday passed a measure repealing a prohibition on bilingual education, and another banning single-use plastic bags. Voters in Maine, Nevada, California and Washington all passed new restrictions on gun access. Voters in Nevada, California and liberal Massachusetts passed laws legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, with Maine possibly following suit as votes there are still being counted.

On the other hand, deep-red Arizona rejected an initiative to legalize marijuana. In Alabama, voters passed a so-called right to work measure that undermines unions’ abilities to collect dues.

Nebraska voters reinstated the death penalty by overturning a repeal passed by their state legislature. Two-thirds of Oklahoma voters declared the death penalty constitutional. Missouri enshrined a law requiring voters to show identification at the polls in the state constitution.

Hours after the returns rolled in, leaders in both parties sought to united the divided country.

Around 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday, President Obama and President-elect Trump spoke by phone. Obama pledged a smooth transition, and when he spoke from the Rose Garden later Wednesday, he pledged national unity.

“We’re not Democrats first. We’re not Republicans first. We are Americans first. We’re patriots first,” Obama said. 

“A lot of our fellow Americans are exultant today. A lot of Americans are less so. But that’s the nature of campaigns. That’s the nature of democracy. It is hard, and sometimes contentious and noisy, and it’s not always inspiring,” Obama said.

The divides on display in Tuesday’s voting, however, suggest two Americas, living side by side, yet drifting ever farther apart.

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