How Trump won the Election: an Appeal to the Heart, Not the Head

Donald Trump has pulled of the most astonishing victory in US history, harnessing a disgruntled electorate to beat an unpopular opponent

The GOP nominee Donald Trump is now the projected winner in enough states to give him more than 270 electoral votes. And Hillary Clinton has called Trump to concede, according to multiple media outlets.

It is one of the most astonishing victories in American political history. Millions in the US and beyond are in shock, wondering what is to come, and asking:

How did Donald Trump do it?

Trump won in the US via

As expected, he won all the solid red states and the “lean Trump” swing states of Ohio and Iowa.

He also held two must-win big swing states, North Carolina and Florida.

But most crucially of all, he broke into Hillary Clinton’s “firewall” by winning Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, states her campaign had long assumed it had in the bag.

Breaking the rules

At 70, he is the oldest person in history to be elected US president. He is first reality TV star – and the first non-politician since Dwight Eisenhower – to win the nomination for president of a major political party.

Trump copied and recast Ronald Reagan’s promise to make America great again. In four words it captured both pessimism and optimism, both fear and hope. The slogan harks back to a supposed golden age of greatness – the 1950s, perhaps, or the 1980s – and implies that it has been lost but then promises to restore it.

What is really behind this stolen quote?

When Trump says, “Make America Great Again,” his followers understand he is really saying, “Make America White Again.”

Whites are backing Trump via

Across the country, Trump fans express similar ideas in their own words. After 18 months of an extraordinarily bitter, traumatic election, it seems there is nothing new to say. But the media have missed entirely the essence of what Trump represents and why he has attracted such an intense following.

We will rebuild our inner cities and provide safety and peace to all of our citizens. American values and culture will be cherished and celebrated once again.

It was an appeal to the heart, not the head, in a country where patriotism should never be underestimated.

What people say

Chuck and Denise, a middle-aged couple from Tacoma

“We’re old-fashioned. We need law and order back. Trump says he’s going to build the wall. The flies come in. The mosquitoes come in.”

“It bothers me we are letting in 200,000 refugees. We have no idea what they’re doing. They are probably affiliated with ISIS. They were raised to hate us.”

John a waiter from Bend, Oregon

“I have a lot more respect for him. He has empathy. He talked about African-American children and inner cities.”

Blake Von Mittman, a proud nationalist

“We are cradling Blacks and minorities like they are daisies. I don’t have a problem with minorities, but they should celebrate privately, and not make it a national holiday like Black History Month or quinceañeras. It’s disgusting.”

Cash in

Yes, the demographics were against him. When Obama was first elected in 2008, 74% of the total voter turnout was white. By 2012, this had fallen to 71%, and in 2016, it was expected to dip to 69%. After Romney’s defeat four years ago, a Republican autopsy report urged the party to reach out to women and minorities to survive.

Trump did the exact opposite.

Trump was wildly ill-disciplined. There was outrageous behavior and offensive statements that alienated women, African Americans, Mexicans, Muslims, disabled people and, ultimately, believers in constitutional democracy.

In any normal year, such a volatile package would have been disqualifying.

But while those voices were amplified in the media, there were plenty of people who agreed with him. Some could not stomach the idea of a female president. Some proved that racism has not withered away, but rather in some cases has intensified, since the election of the first African American president.

Trump’s appeals to white identity politics and criticisms of Clinton’s corruption were enough to build him a coalition of more than 270 electoral votes in predominately white and rural states. And now he’s going to be the president of all the United States.


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