20 Reasons Trump Beat Clinton

This election was super-close. Trump didn’t win key states by much. I say that because that means that if you change many different factors, each one might have changed the outcome. Here’s my list, in no particular order:

  1. Trump’s slogan was clearer (Make America Great Again) and it was easy to see how he tied it to policy change on trade and migration. I don’t think #StrongerTogether has the same umph or link to policy.
  2. Clinton is a woman. Some people who might support a generic Democratic candidate won’t support a female one. Gender.
  3. Trump claimed the change mantle. He was a true outsider, never been in government, never worked in DC, never given a thought, as far as I can tell, to the collective good. Contra the Clinton speeches to Wall Street argument and emphasis on all her experience in government.
  4. Hard for a party to win a third straight term. (thus h/t George H.W. Bush. h/t FDR.)
  5. GOP voter suppression. For example, one report suggested 300K voters were turned away in Wisconsin due to Wisconsin’s voter ID law. If people with ID problems skew lower class, Clinton likely lost many more votes there. Also, see North Carolina.
  6. Trump went for major non-transparency and pulled it off. Broke the bipartisan norm and refused to release his tax returns, I assume because they would show he cheated, he wasn’t worth as much as he claimed, he gave little or nothing to charity, and/or he had investments in Russia. Similarly, his talk of how as president, he would create a “Blind Trust” for his businesses. His refusal to be transparent cost him less politically than what the information would have showed.
  7. Was Tim Kaine a good VP pick? What did an old-ish eastern, white guy add to the ticket? (OK, maybe a VA victory)
  8. Enough people had pro-Trump/anti-Clinton motivation and were willing to overlook a) non-stop lying by Trump b) his anti-women views 3) his bigotry. Some of his macho stance and bullying probably appealed to some voters: he’s tough; he wins; he puts people in their place.
  9. Clinton has been in the national spotlight for 25 years. That is unprecedented for a presidential candidate. It gives your opponents decades to slime you. And if they keep throwing slime, even if all most of it is false, you look slimed. And people believe the next slime because they remember the last one even if the last one was total BS.
  10. Clinton’s alleged email problem. The substance was a big nothing-burger. But the obsession with it, including by the media to the detriment of policy coverage, was amazing and reinforced. (It was par for the course for DC – see Colin Powell as Secretary of State, see 22 mn missing emails from GW Bush administration. But you cannot argue everyone else did it or even they did it more. See #3 above) Politico had a great story on how it actually happened and what that tells us about the US government (and what starving the govt of funding does to its IT resources).
  11. Comey’s late intervention. His last-minute statement, one report suggested, led to a 3-point Clinton drop in the polls.
  12. Unprecedented foreign meddling in a US election. R-u-s-s-i-a. Wikileaks. We may learn more about Russia as time passes.
  13. The Democrats have a great story about helping those bypassed by globalization and the information economy. Helping people get health care (ACA). Pro-education. Providing a cushion in tough times. Obama’s call for massive infrastructure investments (blocked by GOP). I didn’t hear Clinton tell that story. Honestly, maybe she did on the stump, and I missed it.
  14. Trump’s bigotry. Clearly the white nationalists, the KKK, the alt-right (I detest that term) were emboldened by his candidacy. He tapped into cultural anxiety which is a polite way of saying displeasure at equal rights for all regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, and the like.
  15. Clinton was not a great candidate. I hear that. I think it relates to other things I have mentioned, her being a female wonk with a lot of baggage. Not as charismatic an orator.
  16. Campaign choices. See #13. Also, should she have been more about here’s what I am going to do and less here is why Trump is unfit? Did she campaign in the states that needed her presence most? Or, did she appeal enough to the left and Bernie voters? OR, were GOTV allocations spread to the right states?
  17. Trump got free media. A ton. He is great at hogging the spotlight.
  18. The national GOP (e.g. Ryan, McConnell) mostly decided to embrace and support a candidate they knew was unfit to be president. Had they broken with Trump, some GOP voters would have followed.
  19. Trumpism is built on years of national GOP rhetoric and polices. The national GOP paved the way.
  20. The electoral college. She may win by as many as 2 million votes and still lose. She won over more people than he did.

What would you add?


6 Responses to “20 Reasons Trump Beat Clinton”

  1. Great post jeremy but I think biggest reason she lost was failure to spend time and energy in rust belt. In retrospect she should have spent much more time there in 13/14 than giving 80 speeches to executives for big $. This was big wedge issue that sanders exploited. She appeared uncaring to blue collar world

    Also I would black lives matter backlash. Think thus hurt her too

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Great list. Two additional points:

    1. Obama in 2008 made big promises about change – he was going to solve high cost of college, have a low cost, government-backed health care option, end two wars, change the tone/culture of divisiveness in DC, etc. He didn’t do almost any of those things. Go back and listen to his famous “yes we can” speech from NH. No, he didn’t. The reasons why can obviously be debated. But a solid block of working class white people who voted for him in 2008 voted for Trump in 2016 because they felt let down. See http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/03/us/politics/obama-donald-trump-voting.html

    2. Kind of another version of #5 in terms of voter suppression, the Trump campaign had a very clear strategy to make as many Democrats as possible bummed out or shocked by Hillary Clinton’s scandals, which were mostly made up, exaggerated etc., so they would stay home on election day. See http://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trumps-new-attack-strategy-keep-clinton-voters-home-1476221895

  3. Great list. I know a lot of people who voted for Trump because they hated her more than they disliked him. And many people have lost faith and trust in politics. She is viewed as weak for staying with Bill after he publicly cheated on her. Anyway, you forgot Saturday Night Live (although they were clearly in her court!)

  4. Hey Jeremy. What about the impact of people who voted for Obama, then voted for Trump? (see https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-voters-who-heavily-supported-obama-switched-over-to-trump/2016/11/10/65019658-a77a-11e6-ba59-a7d93165c6d4_story.html) Do you agree that this was a key factor in Trump’s Electoral College victory? If so, do you think that it is a ’21st reason,’ or do you think that it completely overlaps with elements of your reason nos. 1-20?


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