Trump and the Rus­sian hand

While there are many con­ven­tional rea­sons why Hil­lary Clin­ton lost in 2016, in­clud­ing racist voter sup­pres­sion and misog­yny, in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence is on­go­ing and much of the pub­lic record is cir­cum­stan­tial and in­con­clu­sive.


IT IS IM­POS­SI­BLE TO KNOW FOR CER­TAIN what hap­pened in the United States pres­i­den­tial elec­tion of 2016. Don­ald Trump, the un­likely win­ner, won by a clear mar­gin. His vic­tory was guar­an­teed when he was able to de­feat his Demo­cratic Party ri­val, Hil­lary Clin­ton, in a hand­ful of States in the Mid­west. Trump won in each of the bat­tle­ground States—florida, Iowa, Michi­gan, North Carolina, Ohio, Penn­syl­va­nia and Wis­con­sin. The mar­gins were not al­ways large, but he won none­the­less. Opin­ion polls had not shown this to be the case and most po­lit­i­cal pun­dits did not ex­pect Trump to win. In­deed, there was even talk that Hil­lary Clin­ton would win States such as Utah—guar­an­teed to vote Re­pub­li­can—but this was not to be; Trump took Utah by a de­cent mar­gin. Most of the ex­pe­ri­enced po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tives and jour­nal­ists felt that Hil­lary Clin­ton might even win by a land­slide. As it turned out, she won three mil­lion votes more than Trump, but by the pe­cu­liar logic of the U.S. elec­tion sys­tem, Trump won by 304 elec­toral col­lege votes to Hil­lary Clin­ton’s 227.

A year and a half later, the U.S. pub­lic is still won­der­ing how Trump won. Dis­be­lief is the dom­i­nant mood among Demo­cratic Party vot­ers and those who have come to dis­like Trump. How is it pos­si­ble for this man, they say, to have won the elec­tion? One can­not say the turnout was low, for more peo­ple voted in the highly con­tentious elec­tion in 2016 than they did to re-elect Barack Obama in 2012. It is true that the mar­gin of vic­tory in 12 of the most im­por­tant States was very nar­row. In four States—michi­gan, New Hamp­shire, Penn­syl­va­nia and Wis­con­sin—trump won by less than a 1 per cent mar­gin and took 46 elec­toral col­lege votes from Hil­lary Clin­ton. In two other States, Florida and New Hamp­shire, with 20 ad­di­tional elec­toral col­lege votes, Trump won by a mar­gin of just over 1 per cent. This was a very tight con­test. Hil­lary Clin­ton might well have won the elec­tion if the mar­gins had gone in her favour. As it turned out, Trump won.

HIL­LARY CLIN­TON and Don­ald Trump at the se­cond U.S. pres­i­den­tial de­bate at Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity in St. Louis, Mis­souri, on Oc­to­ber 9, 2016.

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