Exit polling data may hold the key to Trump's big upset

As the race for the final electoral votes drew to a close Wednesday morning, focus turned to exit polling data to help make sense of what appeared to be an impending upset victory by Republican nominee Donald Trump, which went unpredicted by nearly every poll.

CNN exit polling data showed that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — despite being the favoured candidate among black and Hispanic voters — won just 88% of the black vote, down from President Obama’s 93% support in 2012.

Trump, on the other hand, won 8% of the black vote, up from Mitt Romney’s 6% in the previous presidential election.

Latino support also appeared to be less robust than initially expected. A surge in early voter turnout among Hispanics in states such as Florida had boosted expectations that the demographic would help carry Clinton to resounding victories in the swing states.

But CNN’s exit polling shows that Clinton won just 65% of the Latino vote, while Trump received 29%. The numbers show a stark departure from the demographic which voted for Obama over Romney 71% to 27%.

The gender gap between candidates was also not as steep a divide as expected. Clinton won 54% to Trump’s 42%, exit polling shows.

Clinton also won over far less of the youth vote than Obama did in 2012 — Clinton won 55% of the 18-29 age group, whereas Obama won the same group with 60% of their vote.

Some polling experts, however, have urged caution in lending too much credence to exit poll results.

Nate Silver, editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight, noted that exit polls had done an “awfully bad job tonight,” as they initially suggested a landslide victory for Clinton.

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