A new academic study finds that people who voted for Hillary Clinton are “still grieving,” nearly two years after her loss in the 2016 United States presidential election.
Led by Jocelyn DeGroot, who teaches at Southern University Illinois-Edwardsville, the study “Loss, Meaning-Making and Coping after the 2016 Presidential Election” asked 200 Clinton voters about their feelings and emotions after Clinton’s loss.
The results — published in the brevenment journal Crisis, Illness, and Loss — indicate that Clinton supporters compared her loss to everything from the death of a parent, to a divorce, to “a basket full of puppies [getting] slaughtered.”
“Some described Clinton’s loss as a death, while others likened it to a romantic relationship ending. Other Clinton supporters also described the loss as a betrayal, and they endured emotional and physical reactions to the loss,” according to the study.
But above all, the idea of “death” was most often invoked during interviews.
DeGroot explains that the overwhelming majority of interviewees “explicitly linked death to describe their postelection experiences. This included describing the loss as facing their own death, the death of another, or the death of the country.”
“I feel a bit like I’ve just been given a terminal diagnosis with an ill-defined end-date. I feel this astoundingly deep sense of inner dread and fear that I have not yet been able to shake off,” wrote one self-described Clinton voter in the online survey.
Another told researchers: “I was heartbroken. Clinton’s loss was so personal to me I felt like my mother had died and a horrible step-dad was stepping in to take her place.”
Some interviewees described the election results as a nightmare.
“For many days after the election, I woke up in the middle of the night with my jaw aching (from clenching my teeth all night), and with my heart literally pounding, as if desperately trying to wake up from a nightmare,” wrote another Clinton voter.
In an interview with PJ Media, DeGroot explained that post-election grief isn’t uncommon. However, the upset after the 2016 election may have been particularly extreme due to the unprecedented nature of a female frontrunner.
“Grief is normal. Grief is a reaction to a loss, and the Clinton supporters have encountered a variety of losses,” said DeGroot.
However, DeGroot noted that it appears that after this election, the grief and feelings of loss are more heightened than they have been following previous elections, especially for women and marginalized populations.
So, going forward, DeGroot warns against calling these people “snowflakes” or telling them to “get over it.” Such an approach, she tells PJ Media, is “increasing the chasm between the two groups of people. This harms communication and relationships. It does not contribute to a positive, healthy society.”
The study was published in the September issue of Illness, Crisis, and Loss. University of Alabama professor Heather Carmack also helped DeGroot with the research. See the full study here.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen.