In November 2016 Donald Trump’s won the presidency over Hilary Clinton.
The news of Donald Trump winning the 2016 election came as a surprise to the political pundits, news organizations, Hillary Clinton and even Donald Trump himself. The following day, the hangover and shock of Mr. Trump’s win lingered over the Country leaving everyone playing “Monday Morning Quarterback,” by analyzing, nitpicking and criticizing the outcome of the election. The aftermath of the 2016 vote begs the question, who is behind President Donald Trump’s political rise?
From the moment Donald Trump announced his candidacy on June 16, 2016, with a scandalous set of statements that Mexican immigrants were rapists and criminals, Mr. Trump was largely miscalculated as a presidential nominee. First by his challengers for the Republican nomination and later by Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent. His rise was largely missed by polling groups and data experts. An impression of implausibility shadowed his campaign, to the shortcomings of those who dismissed his message, his improvisational style, his appeal to disillusioned voters and his campaign promises. Trump’s first and extraordinary campaign promise was made during his candidacy announcement. Mr. Trump promised, ‘to build a great, great wall on our southern border’ and ‘have Mexico pay for that wall’ (Qui, Linda). He reiterated the call with certainty and consistency.
Another of Trump’s pledges took hold after a December 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, California. Mr. Trump appealed for ‘a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on’ (Qui, Linda). This promise came to be identified as the Muslim Ban affecting immigrants from countries entwined with Islamic terror. Donald Trump also promised a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and replace it with a market-based option. However, he did not have an actual plan ready to go, if Obamacare was reversed. In fact, in late February 2017, President said, ‘We have come up with a solution that’s really, really I think very good. Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,’ he added. ‘Nobody knew health care could be so complicated’ (Qui, Linda). Due to Trump’s shortage of detailed pledges and firm positions, this strategy proved to be advantageous. Political scientists Michael Tomz and Robert Van Houweling found in a study that “Voters generally do not punish candidates for being vague, and in partisan elections, voters actually prefer ambiguous candidates over precise ones. The reason, we find, is that ambiguity allows voters to ‘see what they want to see’ in members of their own party” (Qui, Linda).
Donald Trump is an individual with a proclivity for attention and unbridled name recognition. Mr. Trump is well known for starring in a reality tv show, a bestselling author and as a “billionaire” real estate tycoon. Being a celebrity gave Mr. Trump a remarkable advantage to his rise in politics, where simply getting recognized is the first step towards a successful political campaign. The American public cannot help itself to be starstruck, even if the celebrity is a D-list superstar. Prior to Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential bid, Trump had never pursued or held a public office, even though he toyed with the idea of political bids off and on between the 1980s and 2015. In the beginning, Donald Trump’s entry for the Republican nomination in 2016 was viewed as a long shot and something of a lark, but the reality tv star’s outsider status, self-promotion, and uninhibited campaign-style boosted him to the head of the Republican party.
On July 27, 2016, Donald Trump held a news conference in which he said: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing, I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press” (CNN). Soon after Mr. Trump’s announcement, Russian hackers began to aim for email addresses connected with Hillary Clinton’s personal and campaign offices to locate emails that were absent from her personal server, according to an indictment from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. In all, the indictment also states that the Russian hackers targeted more than 300 people linked with Hillary Clinton’s campaign and other Democratic Party groups starting in March 2016. By the fall of 2016, Russian hackers began to release the emails publicly, specifically to the whistleblowing website, WikiLeaks founded by Julian Assange, that were damaging to Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, but not Republicans.
The United States Intelligence Agencies found that the Russian government determined that Mr. Trump had a legitimate shot at victory and that he would be kinder to Russia than Hillary Clinton would be, particularly on easing up on economic sanctions and not enacting new ones. The Russian government denied all the allegations of meddling in the election. Donald Trump told Time magazine in an interview, ‘I don’t believe it. I don’t believe they interfered. That became a laughing point, not a talking point, a laughing point. Any time I do something, they say, ‘Oh, Russia interfered’” (CNN). President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team panned the Central Intelligence Agency, by stating in an unsigned declaration, ‘These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again’” (CNN).
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and transition teams were suspected of colluding with Russian agents to manipulate the 2016 United States political election in the Republican nominee’s favor by planting adverse fake news accounts on social media about Hillary Clinton and cyber-attacks against the Democratic Party. No less than eighteen of Mr. Trump’s family members, friends and allies were in direct interactions with the Russians or Wikileaks, throughout the campaign or transition. According to an analysis of public records by the New York Times, Trump conducted at least 140 face-to-face exchanges, phone calls or electronic messages with Russians or Kremlin-linked parties and at least 51 separate dealings. Trump aides identified to have had communications with the Russians include Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, his son Donald Trump Jr, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Donald Trump’s defenders point out that interactions with foreign nationals are standard during any presidential or political campaign. And despite this, three of Mr. Trump’s associates have admitted to being dishonest about these encounters (CNN).
The 2016 election provided the Democrats something to think about for 2020. More than 7.8 million voters directed their presidential ballots for someone other than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. The two largest third-party vote-getters were Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who received nearly 4.5 million votes and the Green Party’s Jill Stein, who garnered 1.5 million votes. And other third-party candidates received roughly another 1.9 million votes too. Their strong presence was largely due to the unpopular candidates belong to the Republican and Democratic parties. Unfortunately, both Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton were so widely disliked that millions of voters decided to squander their votes by backing third-party candidates who had no chance of achieving victory. Hillary Clinton was the candidate who was largely affected by this occurrence.
In two key swing states, Pennsylvania, also known as (aka) the Keystone State, and Wisconsin, aka, the Badger State, made a clear distinction to what occurred. In 2004, 2008 and 2012, the Democratic presidential nominees carried Pennsylvania. John Kerry and Barrack Obama’s popular-vote margins in those three contests ranged from a low of 144,000 votes in 2004 to 620,000 in 2008. In all three elections, the Democratic nominee received a majority of the vote. The softest result was in 2004 when Kerry triumphed over George W. Bush, Jr. with 50.9 percent of the vote and a margin of 2.5 points in the state. But in 2016, Trump took the state by 44,000 votes, just over seven-tenths of a point, while winning 48.2 percent statewide. In 2012, Barrack Obama and Mitt Romney combined for 98.6 percent of Pennsylvania’s popular vote, however, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton collected only 95.6 percent four years later. While third-party contenders pulled just under 83,000 votes in the Keystone State in 2012, they took more than three times that amount, 268,000 votes, in 2016. This clearly states that hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania voters did not like either of the major parties’ nominees casting their protest votes for third-party candidates. And in an even more shocking manner, the same thing happened in Wisconsin. In 2004, Wisconsin was a near dead heat. John Kerry won it by 11,000 votes and Barrack Obama won it by a wide margin in 2008 with 415,000 votes over John McCain and 213,000 votes in 2012 over Mitt Romney.
Then in 2016, Trump carried the Badger State by less than 23,000 votes. However, his final vote total was less than what Romney received in 2012 and still, Mr. Trump carried Wisconsin while Mr. Romney lost it by over 200,000 votes. Third-party and independent nominees in Wisconsin drew 39,000 votes in 2012 but more than four times that number, 188,000 votes, four years later. In the end, the swell in third-party and independent voters undeniably exposed the dislike people have for Hillary Clinton leading to Donald Trump’s victory (Rothenberg, Stuart).
The National Archives and Records Administration states the following, “The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The founding fathers established it in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens” (National Archives and Records Administration). The Electoral College is made up of five hundred thirty-eight electors and a majority of two hundred seventy electoral votes are needed to elect a new President. When all was said and done in the 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump won three hundred four electoral votes compared to Hillary Clinton’s two hundred twenty-seven electoral votes, elevating Mr. Trump as the eventual winner. This made Donald Trump the fifth person in United States history to win the Presidency while losing the Popular Vote. Hillary Clinton had 2.86 million more popular votes than Mr. Trump. (National Archives and Records Administration).
No one thing can be singled out as the sole reason as to how and why Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. The factors that helped propel Mr. Trump into the White House are many and his loyal followers are more than willing to list them all, except, of course, his ties to Russia. Everything else gives the Republican Party bragging rights. A few days before the election, Ronald Brownstein, Editor for The Atlantic noted the following in his November 2, 2016 article, “The Clinton team’s decision to focus so much more attention on states that it wants to win—as opposed to those it believes it needs to win—represents one of the central, if often unremarked upon, choices of the 2016 election. It has allowed her to play offense for most of the general election while forcing rival Donald Trump to spend most of his energy defending states more indispensable to his strategy than to hers” (Brownstein, Roland). This proved to be the most prophetic article of the campaign, Secretary Clinton was so focused on winning in Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina—three states she didn’t have to win in order to secure her easiest path to an electoral majority—that she basically disregarded Michigan and Wisconsin (Brownstein, Roland). In Clinton’s case, this boils down to could have, would have and should have. In retrospect, Secretary Clinton’s strategy to win an electoral rout and deliver a harsh rebuke to Trump and everything he stood for, rather than focus on a narrower path to the White House, was a historic slipup (Zengerle, Jason).
In conclusion, the standard rules of campaigns no longer apply. Donald Trump is essentially a one-man wrecking crew. While Hillary Clinton had a facts and figures campaign, plus a ground game and a multitude of influential surrogates, including Barack Obama. Donald Trump had himself and a passion for huge rallies. It was assumed that these rallies were about Trump’s narcissism, that his traveling across the nation and speaking to massive crowds and even having his message magnified by live television coverage, this was no match for Clinton’s campaign team. Clearly, Donald Trump’s speeches were not just about stroking his ego, but rather, his speeches were about inspiring people to vote in a way that Hillary Clinton could not complete with.