There’s no question, the 2016 presidential race and eventual election was among the strangest, most divisive, and ultimately shocking in our great country’s history. Other than a few overly loud extremists, it seems the majority of Americans are more relieved that the contest (and subsequent social media memes) is over, than concerning themselves with the eventual, historic outcome.
The aforementioned outcry of sore losers—er, the radical left—stems from the unusual mismatched results between the popular vote and the Electoral College voting system. Seriously, do a Google search (at the time of this writing) for “sore loser” and your screen will be splattered with news of Democrats introducing bills to abolish the Electoral College—a system written into our constitution and upheld for each of our nation’s 58 presidential elections.
Indeed, this is only the 5th time that a candidate has won the election but lost the popular vote. How could this be? What were our founders thinking?! In short, they didn’t want such an important decision to be made by a handful of concentrated American cities.
Or, as explained by the 1960 World Series:
|1||New York Yankees – 4||Pittsburgh Pirates – 6||2|
|2||New York Yankees – 16||Pittsburgh Pirates – 3||13|
|3||New York Yankees – 10||Pittsburgh Pirates – 0||10|
|4||New York Yankees – 2||Pittsburgh Pirates – 3||1|
|5||New York Yankees – 2||Pittsburgh Pirates – 5||3|
|6||New York Yankees – 12||Pittsburgh Pirates – 0||12|
|7||New York Yankees – 9||Pittsburgh Pirates – 10||1|
|Total Score (Popular Vote)|
|New York Yankees||55|
|Games Won (Electoral College)|
|New York Yankees||3|
This fun analogy, shamelessly borrowed from Rush Limbaugh, illustrates how the Electoral College is a better representation of a fair contest—I doubt many would suggest the true winner of the 1960 World Series was the New York Yankees.
Which brings us to the elusive “swing states” and their eventual impact on the 2016 election. These promiscuous states spend the election cycle courting the hopeful candidates, with their eventual decision dramatically impacting the election result.
And while the states in question shift over the years, the general list includes: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
2012 Swing State Election Results
2012 Election Map
2016 Swing State Election Results
2016 Election Map
Okay, so more than half of the swing states switched over – effectively giving Donald Trump the nod over Hillary Clinton. And if you’ll allow me to show you one more map (last one, I promise), you may notice a correlation…
Cigar Tax Rates
US Cigar Tax
Of our 12 swing states, those with cigar tax rates at 5% or under switched to red at an 83% rate. The remaining blue states have an average cigar tax rate of 23%. Over the past decade there have been a number of proposed tax increases, smoking bans, and more serious regulations imposed on the tobacco industry (we’ll get to that in a minute). On this election alone there were 23 states that considered bills to increase tobacco tax rates—3 of which passed (and only 1 included cigars).
Cigar smokers have had enough, and with the once-distant threat of cigar regulation (authorized by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2009) finally becoming a reality this summer, the implications of an increasingly overbearing government were unveiled; showing real-life results that were on the minds of many voters in cigar-dense regions.
But of all the “cigar friendly” states, none are more prevalent than Florida and Pennsylvania. Both rank among the top 5 regions for active cigar smokers on the Cigar Dojo app and both are known for their 0% tobacco tax on cigars. Because of this, an overwhelming majority of the nation’s cigar retailers reside within these two states—especially when taking the largest online retailers into account. These, of course, were among the most important/decisive states in the eventual outcome, along with Michigan—with the 3 states making up over 40% of all the swing state electoral votes. And all three switched to red (Michigan’s numbers are still technically out).
Now take into account the lackluster turnout for Democrats among their vital Latino vote. Clinton received 278,000 more votes than Obama did in Florida in 2012, yet lost by more than 100,000 votes (according to Meet the Press). Why? The argument could be made that our ol’ cigar smoking Cuban pals made the call. Cuban-Americans are reportedly 20% more likely to vote than the general Hispanic population, with two-thirds of Cuban-Americans residing in Florida (according to U.S. News). The Cuban vote was essentially split in the 2012 election, with Obama besting Romney by 2 percentage points. Compare that to 2016 and you’ll find a complete reversal, with Trump claiming up to 54% of the Cuban vote (according to Latino Decisions).
It’s no secret that a large percentage of Cubans are partial to the world of premium cigars. So when Obama and his administration managed to nearly simultaneously introduce the demise of craft, boutique, or mom ‘n pop cigar shops and factories, such as the historic cigar regions of Ybor City and Miami’s Little Havana with egregious FDA regulation; and a recent focus to normalize relations with communist Cuba, from which many are first-hand witnesses to Castro’s firing squads and property/business confiscation; you begin to see how the objectives of this administration did not sit well with Cuban-Americans.
While we don’t fully know what to expect from a Trump presidency (yeah yeah, other than a giant wall), there is hope that his administration will be more sympathetic to cigar smokers and their favorite hobby. At Cigar Dojo, we’ve always advocated that Democrats and Republicans should not be your main concern—rather those that give the power back to the people through a less intrusive government. Donald Trump has made it a point to emphasize his stance on deregulations across multiple industries, and that’s just what cigar smokers rallied for. But it’s the all-star team that Trump appears to be assembling that may have cigar smokers most excited, with notorious cigar enthusiast and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani expected to receive a cabinet position with the new administration. And then there’s Senator Marco Rubio, who was re-elected to the Florida Senate this election; Rubio has sponsored legislation to exempt premium cigars from regulation since assuming office in 2011. Both men are assumed to have pull within the inner circle of Trump’s administration. Not to mention Trump’s pick for vice president, Mike Pence, who has been an open advocate for cigar smoker’s rights for several years, freeing up regulations for cigar establishments in Indiana and being a co-signer of the HR 1639 (Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2011).
Does this all amount to a reversal of course for the cigar industry? It’s no guarantee, but it’s safe to say that the future looks brighter than it did yesterday—not only from a changing of the guard, but a prevention of another Clinton administration that made its intentions to push Obama’s introduced regulations forward, and then some. Smokers can rejoice (did someone say celebratory cigar?) knowing they did their share at the ballot box—potentially saving the cigar industry from the brink of craft/boutique extermination.