In any competition, there has to be a winner and a loser. However, some contests are more important than the others, making all the world follow them and root for their favorite participant. One such event, the evolvement of which was followed by millions of people, was the President Election of 2016 in the US. There were two main candidates – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. While the majority of those who took part in polls and interviews seemed to support Clinton, the rivalry ended with the victory of Trump. There are several versions as to why such development of events became possible. The current paper aims to discuss the major ones.
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The System of Elections in the US as a Cause of Trump’s Victory
Probably the main reason why Clinton lost the election was the very system of elections in the US. Even though the majority of people supported Hillary, their votes did not count as the decisive ones (Montanaro). According to the arrangement of the Presidential election procedure in the US, the President is not chosen straightly by people but is picked by a group of representatives that constitute the Electoral College. Such a scheme originates from the country’s Constitution. It was considered the best balance between choosing the President by citizens’ popular vote and electing the head of the country in Congress.
As history indicates, it is possible to win the favor of citizens but lose the electoral college, which is exactly what happened in 2016. Hillary Clinton exceeded the popular vote margin set by Al Gore in 2000, but that was still not enough for her to become the President (Montanaro). This case was the fifth in the country’s history when a candidate won the Electoral College while losing the popular vote. Candidates from the Democratic Party to which Clinton belongs won six out of seven latest presidential elections, but they failed to win the Electoral College in two of the elections. Such a situation occurs due to the Democrats moving to coasts and cities where their population dominates.
As a result of the arrangement of the electoral system in the US, Trump won by having 304 electoral votes versus Clinton’s 227 (“Presidential Elections Results”). Thus, even though he did not get the favor of the majority of the country’s citizens, Donald Trump managed to win by securing support from the majority of Electoral College members. That was probably the most decisive cause why Trump won the 2016 election.
James Comey’s Role in the Election and Polls’ Failure to Predict the Situation Correctly
A serious impact on the election outcomes is considered to belong to the FBI director James Comey (Gaughan; Zurcher). According to research, the announcements made by Comey might have discouraged some of Clinton’s supporters from voting in her favor. The polls attributed Hillary Clinton a confident advantage over Donald Trump almost all the way before the election day. However, nearly two weeks before November 8, 2016, Comey announced that the investigation into Clinton’s personal email server would be reopened, which caused a lot of uncertainty among the citizens (Zurcher).
FBI director’s statement caused a change in the electoral race by leading to Clinton’s losing the polling lead. Even though she gained her leading position back in a week, the situation remained too damaging for Clinton’s reputation (Gaughan). In the meantime, Trump had the perfect opportunity to strengthen his position and earn points for the Conservative Party. Clinton lost the chance to send an appealing message to US citizens (Zurcher).
The situation that was caused by Comey’s announcement of the decision to reopen the investigation led to the polls’ failure to make accurate predictions about the election’s results. The last election brought the whole polling industry into question (Gaughan). Because of poll outcomes, almost no one doubted Clinton’s victory. Thus, when Trump won, it came as a great surprise. Such outcomes undermined people’s trust in the polling industry altogether. Because of the predictions, Clinton’s supporters relaxed and were almost sure about their success. Meanwhile, they should have been making much greater efforts in the last weeks of the campaign. Therefore, James Comey’s declaration, along with the erroneous polling results, became some of the most decisive factors that assisted Trump’s victory.
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Being a Celebrity Beat Having a High Level of Organization
Another crucial aspect of Trump’s victory was his being a rather famous person both in the US and abroad (Krieg). As a rule, a politician is considered doomed to failure if he or she does not have a proper organization. When Trump announced his desire to take part in the election, there was a popular opinion that he would not be able to succeed because he did not have enough experience in political matters (Gaughan).
However, Trump made the skeptics admit that they had been wrong. He has been a rather famous public figure for over three decades, and, as a result, he had maximum name recognition. Trump’s celebrity position gave him the possibility of accumulating incessant media attention from the very start of the election race. The controversial ideas expressed by him had a rather unexpected effect: the voters were occupied with them more than with any serious political proclamations (Gaughan).
Trump visited states such as Michigan and Wisconsin that were considered out of reach by the experts (Zurcher). Rather than reaching individual voters’ attention, he organized massive gatherings where he expressed his suggestions and promises. Trump’s political convention was somewhat incoherent, and people’s acceptance of Clinton’s campaign seemed to be much warmer (Zurcher). Still, despite all of these factors, he managed to receive the majority of voices in the Electoral College.
What is more, Trump’s supporters were rather motivated. His unconcealed hatred of politeness and fundamental standards of respectable behavior allowed him to meld with the Republican base better than any other candidate ever did. Donald Trump did not conform to the accepted rules of politics, and that was exactly what his supporters loved about his strategy (Gaughan). Thus, Trump’s victory in the election marks a new age of celebrity political leaders. He is an example of how a non-politician who has appeal and magnetism can be accepted better than conventional politicians with long-established organizations. In the era of highly developed internet technologies and access to different kinds of media, such an option does not seem strange and unsuccessful any longer.
People’s Disappointment in the Choice of Candidates
During the 2016 election, as well as during any other event of such a kind, there were people who were dissatisfied with the leading alternatives. The major candidates belonged to the Republican (Donald Trump) and Democratic (Hillary Clinton) parties. However, there were a number of citizens who did not prefer any of these two unions. As a result, they gave their votes to other candidates, which only led to wasting the voices. 6,9 million people preferred not to vote for any of the leading candidates, giving their voice to the representatives of Libertarian (Gary Johnson) or Green (Jill Stein) parties (Montanaro). In comparison with the campaign of 2012, the number of young people who chose to vote for a third party in 2016 raised significantly: 8 percent in 2016 versus 3 percent four years before (Montanaro).
Not only did the disappointment factor play a bad trick for Clinton. There was also a problem of low voter turnout (Krieg). In particular, the supporters of the Democratic party did not demonstrate a sufficient presence at the election. As a result, Trump benefited from such a state of things by gathering more votes from those who supported him and showed up on the day of the election.
Trump’s White Wave: Support from the Working Class
One of the most unexpected sources of support for Trump came from the working-class whites, the dependence on whom was underestimated by the Democrats (Cohn; Montanaro). The states where Clinton was expected to win with an almost 100 percent guarantee, such as Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina, were captivated by Trump’s campaign. For decades, white Americans of the working class who frequently happened to have no higher education had been feeling neglected and underestimated by the Democrats but still continued to vote for their representatives. However, in 2016, there was a sudden transformation.
Trump’s ardent speeches made the representatives of this social class change their minds and vote in quite an unexpected way (Cohn). Two striking things were noticed about the white wave. Firstly, the Democrats had underestimated the significance of that voters’ support. Secondly, the number of nonwhite educated citizens had been exaggerated (Cohn). Working-class whites, especially the ones living in rural areas, came to the election in a greater number than Clinton’s team had expected, and their votes went to someone who promised them to take their voices into consideration.
Despite the numerous poll results and forecasts, the Democrat Hillary Clinton lost the Presidential election of 2016 to the Republican Donald Trump. Experts suggested many theories as to why such a situation became possible. First of all, the system of elections in the US is organized in such a manner that even when the majority of citizens support a candidate, it does not mean that he or she will win.
That was the case with Clinton, as well as with four other candidates in the country’s history. Another popular theory of Trump’s triumph was associated with the role of FBI director, James Comey and his statement about reopening the investigation into Clinton’s personal email server just two weeks before the election.
One more possible advantage of Trump’s campaign was that he is a celebrity figure, which made his name recognizable even without special political organization. Citizens’ disappointment in the choice of candidates also played its role, leading to many voters giving their voices for a third party. Finally, there was also the factor of working-class whites’ unexpected support of Trump. Each of these factors separately and all of them together played their role in the election process and results.
Cohn, Nate. “Why Trump Won: Working-Class Whites.” The New York Times. 2016. Web.
Gaughan, Anthony J. “Donald Trump Won the Presidency because Celebrity Beats Substance.” Quartz. 2016. Web.
Krieg, Gregory. “How Did Trump Win? Here Are Twenty-Four Theories.” CNN. 2016. Web.
Montanaro, Domenico. “Seven Reasons Donald Trump Won the President Election.” NPR. 2016. Web.
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“Presidential Elections Results: Donald Trump Wins.” The New York Times. 2016. Web.
Zurcher, Anthony. “US Election 2016 Results: Five Reasons Donald Trump Won.” BBC. 2016. Web.