A lot of crazy stuff has happened this year. In March, 3 coordinated bomb attacks by ISIS, in Belgium, killed 32 and injured over 250. In June, the UK voted to leave the European Union in an attempt to forge its own economic future without the single market. Also in June, 50 party-goers were shot dead at gay nightclub in Florida, making this worst hate crime in US history. These events, coupled with the deaths of many prominent celebrities (Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Alan Rickman to name but a few), has caused many to give 2016 the unwanted title of “the worst year in recent history”
The final nail in the coffin, for much of the world, was the shock result in the US election this month. I woke up on morning of the 9th November and did my usual routine of checking my social media at breakfast. Upon logging in, I was greeted with a tidal wave of Facebook posts and Tweets, mostly along the sarcastic lines of “Oh well done America, look at what you’ve done now.”
I tend to disagree with laying the blame at the feet of the American public. I must now state, before we go any further, I am not a supporter of the polices of Trump, nor am I those of Clinton. I have said in my last blog, the American people found themselves in an unenviable position. A choice between two truly terrible candidates.
So, before I give my explanation of why I believe the Republican party was victorious, I think some back-round information about the election is required. Voter turnout was at its lowest this year since the 1996 election. This is an indicator of a how disconnected the nation felt from this election, most likely due to the long build-up and the poor quality of candidates. This year also seen a substantial rise in voters for 3rd parties (2.4 million in 2012, up to 6.9million this year) further cementing this theory.
I believe the Democratic party, and more specifically the Clinton administration can only blame themselves for losing this election. When we look at their numbers in 2016 compared to the 2012 election, Clinton lost over 4.5 million votes overall, compared to Obama just 4 years earlier. Conversely, Trump basically matched the votes of Romney, down around 400,000 on 2012. So, when you look at the drop in overall turnout, and how little Trump lost on 2012 numbers compared to Clinton, we see the reason why the election played out as it did. Trump also played the electoral college system to a tee, allowing him to win the race without winning the popular vote. However, the numbers do explain how but do not explain why Trump won. For this we must look at the campaigns themselves.
Working class white people are the single biggest demographic in the USA. The Clinton administration failed to connect to this audience, casting the working class with no college degrees adrift from those with degrees. Huge wins for Trump in previous democratic strongholds of Ohio and Iowa emphasize this. Trump also successful won Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and scraped over the line in Michigan, dismantling the democratic “Blue Wall” from the last 6 elections. Clinton had taken this stronghold for granted and failed to solidify it during her campaign.
Trump played to his audience’s emotions during his speeches, creating a caricature of his opponent. He emphasized Clinton’s ties to the establishment and her pro-globalist agenda, using this to successfully tap into the American belief of self-sufficiency and their historic anti-establishment feeling. Clinton failed to change the momentum of these tactics, and often added fuel to the fire, on occasion calling Trump supporters “Deplorable racists and sexists”. This further marginalized these voters, pushing them ever more towards the Republican candidate and probably pushed people in their social circles along with them.
Finally, we must look at the bigger picture in the run up to the election. Many of the voting population felt great discord with the ruling democratic regime. The Obama era has left many in the US with a bitter taste, given the massive change which he promised and ultimately failed to deliver. Clinton’s campaign revolved around continuing the work from the past 8 years, leaving many to ponder why they should vote to keep a system they believed was not working in their favor. Just as Obama had 8 years ago, Trump acted as a beacon of hope and change to his supporters. This is the main reason I believe he has been elected, whether this a positive or negative change remains to be seen.
Thanks for reading!