When the unimaginable become reality, we humans look to anything and everything to try to make sense of our world. In ancient times, those explanations came in the form of mythological gods, but in today's data-driven world, we look to charts that quantify and analyze the seemingly-impossible. When American voters did the unthinkable and elected Donald Trump as their next president, analysts began rushing to figure out exactly how and why this seemingly improbably thing occurred. These four charts help explain how Donald Trump became president and show the conditions that need to be fixed to address the seemingly silent majority who elected him.
It's easy to argue, of course, that charts and data analysis didn't help us with this mess in the first place (I'm looking at you, Nate Silver). But not all charts are created equal, and analytics, like everything else, are much more accurate in hindsight. And in the case of one of the charts in our list below, it's the failure of polling that made this soon-to-be infamous chart all the more shocking. It will take years, and perhaps decades, to fully understand the causes and implications of what we witnessed last night, but at least for now, there are some explanations to help tide us over.
The Surprising Female Electorate
It seemed like there was a clear gender divide between the two candidates — that men would be more likely to vote for Trump, and that women would be more likely to vote for Hillary Clinton. According to this NBC chart, that just wasn't the case. Of course, this chart doesn't explain why these overwhelming numbers of women chose to vote for a man accused multiple times of sexual assault (he has denied all allegations of sexual assault, calling them "false" and "disgusting), but it illuminates an ugly reality.
The Myth Of The Poor, White Trump Voter
From day one, the widespread belief among liberals was that Trump's electorate was comprised mostly of poor, rural white people. While the "missing white vote", or the unpredictability of the white voters who rarely voted turning out for Trump, certainly accounts for Trump's incomprehensible election, they were far from alone in electing him.
This chart shows that among the nation's wealthiest voters, roughly half of each upper class income bracket voted for Trump, dispelling the notion that the only people who supported him were ignorant poor folks.
The Electoral Race Card
Just a few days prior to the election, Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted that he doesn't believe Trump supporters are racist and sexist. While the latter remains to be seen, it appears that this time, Grandpa Bernie got it wrong, as an unsettling majority of white people (including white women) voted for Trump.
This racism is, of course, complicated. Although it does quite probably relate to Clinton's ties to Obama and overall message of racial unity, it also was built largely on the backs of Muslims and Latinos, Trump's two favorite campaign trail punching bags. It appears his fear-mongering worked on a majority of white people.
The Ills Of Globalization
Since World War II, the world has become a much smaller place thanks to an increasingly globalized market. Outsourced labor and multi-national corporatism have, of course, benefited the American and European billionaires who own many of these conglomerates, but it's hurt those back home who watched their jobs be outsourced to other countries and took their decades-long resentments to the polls on Nov. 8. The similarities between Brexit and Trump's election are staggering, and this chart, perhaps more than any of the others, shows in startling detail why the lower middle class voters who voted to leave the E.U. and elect Trump felt so disenfranchised.
No number of charts will ever be able to quantify the madness that was the election of Trump to the American presidency. We have years, maybe even decades, of interference to run and research to do to figure out how the American public and their people who aim to represent them allowed a demagogue of this caliber into the Oval Office. But for now, as we alternately grieve, regroup and try to make sense of it all, these charts help us understand how this all happened.