How Trump crushed naysay­ers with coali­tion of the for­got­ten

Kuwait Times - - ANALYSIS -

Don­ald Trump was right. Count­less oth­ers were wrong. The pun­dits and poll­sters who said the for­mer re­al­ity TV star could not win the US pres­i­dency, the Repub­li­cans who shunned him, the busi­ness lead­ers who de­nounced him and the Democrats who dis­missed him failed to fully un­der­stand the depth of his sup­port. In a stun­ning vic­tory over Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton, Trump stuck to a plan that worked to per­fec­tion in the Repub­li­can pri­mary, a cam­paign built around his blunt-talk­ing celebrity per­sona, his com­mand of so­cial me­dia, and his anti-estab­lish­ment mes­sage of change.

“Ours was not a cam­paign, but an in­cred­i­ble and great move­ment,” Trump said in his vic­tory speech yes­ter­day. It was a move­ment driven by dis­con­tent. The Reuters/Ip­sos Elec­tion Day poll found that most Amer­i­cans who came to the polls were clearly an­gry with the di­rec­tion of the coun­try. Six out of 10 peo­ple said they felt the coun­try is on the wrong track. Some 58 per­cent said “more and more I don’t iden­tify with what Amer­ica has be­come” and 75 per­cent said “Amer­ica needs a strong leader to take the coun­try back” from the wealthy.

Those who felt the coun­try was on the wrong track were three times as likely to vote for Trump as Clin­ton. In a bit­ter and di­vi­sive cam­paign, Trump cleared a se­ries of ob­sta­cles that would doom any other can­di­date: An au­dio tape in which he talked of grop­ing women; a re­fusal to re­lease his tax re­turns; vi­o­lence at his ral­lies; his mock­ery of a dis­abled re­porter; and his at­tacks on the her­itage of a fed­eral judge and the Mus­lim fam­ily of a US soldier. “He was an im­per­fect can­di­date with a near-per­fect mes­sage,” said Ford O’Con­nell, a Repub­li­can strate­gist who has long backed Trump. “I don’t think a lot of peo­ple un­der­stood that.”

In a year when voters in the United States and abroad showed their an­tipa­thy to­ward the po­lit­i­cal estab­lish­ment, the glob­al­ized econ­omy, and cor­po­rate wel­fare, Trump guessed cor­rectly he could ride that wave of dis­con­tent to the White House.

He ex­ploited a grow­ing di­vide in the coun­try be­tween whites and mi­nori­ties, ur­ban­ites and ru­ral residents, the col­lege-ed­u­cated and the work­ing class. Trump beat Clin­ton among white men with­out a col­lege de­gree by 31 points and white women with­out a de­gree by 27 points, ac­cord­ing to the Reuters/Ip­sos polling.

He also ben­e­fited from an op­po­nent with her own flaws. Clin­ton was con­tin­u­ally dragged down by ques­tions over her use of a pri­vate email server while sec­re­tary of state and the ac­tiv­i­ties of her fam­ily foun­da­tion, while her cor­po­rate­friendly back­ground left some Democrats skep­ti­cal and un­en­thu­si­as­tic. That ap­peared to cost her sup­port among women, young voters and mi­nori­ties - three groups that are crit­i­cal for Democrats to win big. Clin­ton won each of these groups, but by smaller mar­gins than Pres­i­dent Barack Obama held when he de­feated Repub­li­can can­di­date Mitt Rom­ney in 2012.

Some 49 per­cent of women sup­ported Clin­ton, the first woman nom­i­nee of a ma­jor party, while 47 per­cent sup­ported Trump. Among women be­tween the ages of 18 and 34, about 55 per­cent sup­ported Clin­ton, while 38 per­cent sup­ported Trump. In 2012, 62 per­cent of young women sup­ported Obama, while 36 per­cent sup­ported Rom­ney.

White voters, es­pe­cially men in ru­ral ar­eas, flocked to Trump in record num­bers. Trump ap­pealed to voters un­happy with the hol­low­ing out of the coun­try’s man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor and fear­ful of the coun­try’s chang­ing de­mo­graph­ics, cam­paign­ing on a harsh anti-im­mi­gra­tion mes­sage. Trump won 56 per­cent of the white vote, while Clin­ton won just 39 per­cent. He dom­i­nated to an even greater de­gree in ru­ral ar­eas, where he beat Clin­ton by 27 points.

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