Analysis: Why Trump triumphed

by Chance Palm

On June 16, 2015, the soon-to-be president began his race for the Republican nomination. He started out with 3.7-percent in Republican polls, which over the course of the nomination process, ballooned. His competitors had spent more money on campaigning, public experience and a ground game. However, Donald Trump’s strategy required none of those. It consisted of keeping the media focused on him and embarrassing his competitors. It worked, and Trump became the nomination for his party.

On the other side, democratic candidate Hillary Clinton announced much earlier on April 12, 2015. It was supposed to be an easy nomination, but as her main competitor Bernie Sanders rose in the polls, so did the uncertainty of a Clinton nomination. Still, Clinton fought and won the Democratic nomination.

Early on, though, one could see one of the fatal flaws of the Clinton candidacy. Both Trump and Sanders saw it. It was white, working-class discontentment for free trade and mainstream politics. Both parties tried to smother the revolutions in their parties. Republicans did a worse job, and their party’s insurgent leader won the nomination. Democrats got their establishment candidate into the next round.

Trump went to work trying to pick up any Sanders’ supporters that felt disenfranchised by the Democratic establishment. This is where politics grew tricky for Clinton. Trump was winning with the white working class, and it was believed to be his stances on NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the TPP, Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, places he won—Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio—who lost factory jobs that used to be steady working class jobs. They had seen many of their jobs leave the country be-
cause of trade deals, even if some economists saw a net gain from these trade agreements. Clinton had supported trade deals, such as NAFTA and TPP at one time, and while Sanders and Trump seemed more genuine with their stances on free trade, Clinton was missing a major part of the electorate with her previous support of these trade deals, and to f;ip would seem disingenuous.

Despite this, she still attempted to backtrack on her previous support for these deals. This did not completely work, so what Clinton did instead was try to focus on her opponent’s temperament. This was the easy target because throughout the election Trump often had temperament flares and personality flaws that made him less appropriate for the job as president. This, with his many scandals throughout the campaign, seemed to be the best line of attack for the Clinton campaign.

Clinton had her own scandals, one of which was her emails. She used a private server during her time as Secretary of State, and after a thorough investigation of her emails, Director of the FBI James Comey called her personal email setup “extremely careless.” Comey also said that there was no evidence that the 30,000 emails deleted contained was an attempt to conceal information. Note that Comey is a Republican, so Clinton didn’t get any party support from the FBI.

With both of the most unpopular candidates in decades running for president, it created one of the most toxic elections in modern his tory with both candidates pointing out the flaws in each other, which there was objectively many in both. Clinton had her lack of transparency and over-preparedness, and Trump had his lack of experience and temperament.

If “did not vote” were its own candidate of 2016, it would have won by a landslide gaining 490 electoral votes. Another problem with the 2016 election was the polling. In Pennsylvania, a state that went red, most pollsters had Clinton up by four points, so what went wrong with the polling? Well, it was a combination of lack of enthusiasm for Clinton, Trump supporters who are too embarrassed to say they support him and Trump bringing out more voters who haven’t voted in the past elections.

The main reason was the lack of enthusiasm. Clinton had a hard time getting people, especially Democrats, to be excited about her presidency, so much, though, that ten-million democrats did not vote in this election than for those who did in 2008. This enthusiasm gap is what might have helped lead to the Trump victory.

Trump was able to rile up voters and make them care about the political process, whereas Clinton was much less successful.

Another reason for the Clinton loss was because of the sense of complacency that the media produced, and the media didn’t have many good sources for predicting the election. Nate Silver, a renowned statistician, known for predicting who won every single state in the 2012 election, also had Clinton at a 68-percent chance of becoming president, and he was one of the only media sources saying Trump had a chance, and he was even giving Clinton a couple of buffer states.

So the media reporting on how well Clinton was polling may have created a sense of complacency among Democrats that attributed to their low turnout. Nonetheless, Trump secured over 270 of the electoral votes. He may have gotten a majority of the electoral votes, but he did not, however, secure the popular vote.

The first time this happened was in 1876, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes won the majority of the electoral college but lost the popular vote. That has happened four times since then. That means that our democracy has a failure rate of around seven-percent. Clinton got 395,050 more votes than Trump. So why isn’t Clinton the president-elect? The electoral college.

Why was the electoral college created if it thwarts democracy then? It was made for an agrarian society so that politicians would have to spend time in places that were not big cities. That also makes people who live in higher population cities votes count less than somebody who lives in Wyoming. You don’t have to go very far down the cities’ population size until you fall under a million. Also, it doesn’t work very well since politicians are not going to all the states, just the few who are a battleground.

This system is so flawed, you can win the election with under 25-percent of the vote. So what led to a Trump victory, was not completely his insurgency, but rather a series of failures by Democrats, Clinton and a broken electoral system.