Democracy in America

American politics

  • Victory bash

    Scenes from Donald Trump’s election night party

    by R.W. | NEW YORK

    “DOES he say stupid shit? Yeah, but at the end of the day Mr Trump really cares about Americans,” said a campaign worker at Donald Trump’s party on the evening of November 8th. Another, more senior staffer, quietly reprimanded him, saying he should not speak to journalists after he had been drinking. The worker quickly turned back to your correspondent to say: “But here’s the thing, I told you the truth, so whatever.”

    Mr Trump’s election night bash at the Hilton, a midtown Manhattan hotel, was invite-only. Among the attendees were campaign workers and a smattering of well-known Republicans, such as Sarah Palin. Most of the men were in suits, many of them pin-stripe.

  • Nominator-in-chief

    How the Supreme Court will change under President Trump

    by S.M. | NEW YORK

    THERE are two ways to think about the future of the Supreme Court in the wake of last night’s stunning upset in the presidential race: taking Donald Trump at his word when he says he will load the bench with conservatives, or, in view of his penchant for changing his mind, taking these promises with a shaker full of salt. Neither offers much solace to liberals.

    Mr Trump has pledged to appoint highly conservative justices who will uphold gun rights, walk back the 18-month-old decision allowing gays and lesbians to wed and “automatically” overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 ruling recognising a right to abortion choice.

  • Watch out, world

    Donald Trump wins the presidential election

    by J.A. | WASHINGTON, DC

    WHEN Barack Obama proffered this election-day olive branch to a divided country on November 8th, it sounded rather trite: “No matter what happens, the sun will rise in the morning.” But in the dark of a night that, state by state, delivered a coruscating verdict on Mr Obama’s legacy and elected Donald Trump to the White House, those words started almost to feel optimistic.

    Most pundits had predicted a comfortable victory for Mr Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Opinion polls put her around four percentage points ahead, and her paths to the necessary 270 electoral college votes looked easier and more numerous than the narrow way Mr Trump seemed to have mapped for himself.

  • Voting in North Carolina

    Night and day in a vital swing state


    THE elderly man with a ponytail and walking stick was voting for Donald Trump—“he knows what to do with the money”—but he wasn’t happy. “It’s a sin to judge people,” he said at a polling station in Durham, North Carolina; yet the candidates had spent so much time disparaging one another. “It should be against the law to talk about each other,” he reckoned. This year’s television commercials, agreed his companion, had been the most dispiriting ever.

    Particular attention falls on North Carolina today.

  • Election day

    Getting out the vote, Alaska Native edition

    by M.W. | ANCHORAGE

    IT WAS chilly and overcast on the eve of election day in Anchorage. A white van with a decal on the side that said “Get Out The Native Vote” pulled up to the front door of a nondescript office building in the middle of this nondescript city at the foot of the snow-draped Chugach Mountains. Michael Orr, wearing a bright blue kuspuk—a traditional, hooded tunic popular among Alaska Natives—climbed into the first row of seats. Mr Orr, 43, is Siberian Yupik from a clan of whalers and traders that straddled Russia and Northwest Alaska. Television and telephones came to the region when Mr Orr was a child.

  • Still unsure

    On the eve of the election, 5% of voters remain undecided

    by I.K.

    THE general election of 2016 is drawing to a close. The pundits have weighed in, the pollsters are publishing their final tallies and two victory parties have each been planned for the night of November 8th two miles apart in New York City. That day, Americans will have chosen their next president. 

    Our final poll, a survey of more than 4,000 registered voters conducted by YouGov this weekend, shows a four point advantage for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Still 5% of voters say that they are still uncommitted at this late stage, while 10% say they will be voting, but not for either of the two major-party candidates. 

  • A democratic scandal

    The FBI acquits Hillary Clinton again

    by J.A. | WASHINGTON, DC

    FBI directors do not need to be popular, but they do need to have the confidence of their staff and, ideally, America. It is hard to think James Comey, who made a second belated intrusion into the general election on November 6th, has much of either currently. 

    In a letter to Congress, Mr Comey said that a second FBI probe into Mrs Clinton’s e-mail arrangements as secretary of state, which he had announced nine days earlier, had reached the same conclusion as the first. Mrs Clinton’s use of a private internet server instead of an official e-mail was “careless” but did not warrant an indictment.

  • Voters and the media

    How Americans’ media habits can predict how they will vote

    by I.K.

    AMERICAN politics has perhaps never been so divisive. Bipartisanship in Congress is almost non-existent. The two major parties are cleaving on racial lines. Republicans are increasingly the party of whites, with Donald Trump showing a 20 point margin over Hillary Clinton. Black people favour Mrs Clinton by 80 points.

    What is to blame for this state of affairs? Perhaps it is failing social cohesion of the kind bemoaned in “Bowling Alone”, an influential book by American sociologist Robert Putnam. Or perhaps the birth of new media, fuelled by the internet, which now permits a person to choose the facts to match his or her opinions, and not vice versa.

  • They’re not with her

    Why do some women support Donald Trump?


    WHEN Melania Trump called for a gentler, kinder politics and an end to cyberbullying in a stump speech in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, on November 3rd, it prompted howls of derision and disbelief among many political observers, especially on social media. “Our culture has gotten too mean and rough” said the wife of a man famed for insulting his opponents, particularly on Twitter, as she called for people to vote for Donald Trump.

    But among the crowd Mrs Trump addressed, in an indoor soccer complex in Berwyn, a suburb of Philadelphia, no one appeared fazed by her rather obvious chutzpah.

  • High stakes

    Polls suggest Clinton and Trump are neck-and-neck in Nevada

    by H.B.C. | LOS ANGELES

    ON OCTOBER 22nd, Donald Trump received his first major newspaper endorsement, from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada’s largest publication. With only five days left before the election, the political preferences of the state’s population are harder to gauge. 

    Recent polls in Nevada, taken after James Comey, the director of the FBI suggested on October 28th that he might have new evidence relating to the inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, appear to show that Mr Trump and Mrs Clinton are neck-and-neck to win the state’s six electoral votes. But polling in the Silver State is notoriously tricky.

  • The expat ballot

    American voters overseas: The 51st state

    by K.N.C. and E.H.

    AROUND 30m Americans have already voted in the 2016 election. This includes military ballots and early voting. Yet it also includes a cohort that is poorly represented: overseas Americans. Where Virginians and Nevadans militate for their concerns in the capital, expatriate issues like double-taxation are largely mute. The government bizarrely doesn’t keep tabs on their numbers, but estimates range from 9m (the State Department) to 1m (the number of overseas tax filers, representing an estimated 2.1m people). The Federal Voter Assistance Program estimates 5.7m.

  • The state of the House

    Democrats seem unlikely to turn the House map blue

    by I.K.

    THE polls have tightened since the news, late last week, of fresh e-mail difficulties for Hillary Clinton, but the Democratic nominee still seems likely to win the White House on November 8th. If she is victorious, however, Mrs Clinton is likely to take the helm of a divided government.

    For while Democrats still have a chance at wresting control of the Senate—punters peg their chances at 62%—something more dramatic would be needed to give them the House of Representatives, where their hopes are deemed to be about one in ten. As Barack Obama knows well, passing legislation through a recalcitrant Republican opposition, as Mrs Clinton is almost sure to face, can be a difficult undertaking.

  • A new battleground

    Hillary Clinton targets Arizona in the final stretch


    ARIZONA’s voters aren’t accustomed to being courted so late in a presidential election. The state, which Mitt Romney won by nine percentage points in 2012, has been reliably Republican in almost every presidential contest for decades—historically, candidates from both parties have accordingly focused their attention elsewhere. But Hillary Clinton’s plans to hold a rally on November 2nd in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe, less than a week before election day—her first appearance in the state since the eve of Arizona’s Democratic primary in March—suggests that 2016 may be different. 

  • Loo and behold

    What is at stake in the first Supreme Court case on transgender rights

    by S.M. | NEW YORK

    THREE years ago, Gavin Grimm, then a high-school freshman in Virginia, struggled with his gender identity. Deemed a girl at birth, but feeling like a boy, Gavin’s stress was so great that he often found himself skipping class. After talking to a psychologist and receiving a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, Mr Grimm began to live as a boy, with a treatment plan that asked others to treat him “as a boy in all respects, including when using the restroom”. Mr Grimm started his sophomore year by dashing off to the bathroom in the nurse’s office, but after a few weeks, with the principal’s assent, he began using the boys’ room.

  • Battle for the suburbs

    Why the Clinton campaign is targeting white suburban women


    KAREN KATZ has campaigned for the Democrats at every general election since Robert F. Kennedy’s fateful bid for the presidency in 1968. Now aged 70, she had planned to sit out this year’s campaign. But she became alarmed by the number of women in her suburb of Philadelphia who said they were going to vote for Donald Trump. So in August, when Hillary Clinton’s campaign opened an office in Bucks county, one of four “collar counties” that surround Philadelphia, Ms Katz volunteered to work the phones three evenings a week. “It’s exhausting,” she says. “But I’ve got two daughters and I’m doing this for them.”


United States video


Products and events

Take our weekly news quiz to stay on top of the headlines

Visit The Economist e-store and you’ll find a range of carefully selected products for business and pleasure, Economist books and diaries, and much more