Why Trump won – the Brexit Redux

Long time readers of Kiwiblog may recall my incorrect predictions before the 2008 and 2012 Presidential Elections. This time around, aside from a few posts in the primary season, I decided to refrain from writing and predicting. This was partly due to current busyness but also because the race was so volatile and unpredictable that I felt that meaningful prognosticating was next to impossible. When asked, I told people that was highly likely to win but that with , anything was possible given the numerous times he managed to utterly defy conventional wisdom. As stated in earlier posts, I was a Rubio supporter who voted for Cruz in the primary as Rubio had by then dropped out of the race. I voted for only to stop Hillary and not because I like him or some of his policies. Here are 11 reasons why I feel won:

1 – Clinton’s failings were more consequential than Trump’s failings

Trump’s failings have been the subject so much media scrutiny that it is fair to categorise some of the coverage as overkill such as his:

  • racist attack on the judge in the Trump University case;
  • mocking of a disabled reporter;
  • criticism of Gold Star parents’ the Khans;
  • mocking the weight of a Miss Universe contestant ;
  • vile comments about his sexual exploits (real or imagined) to Billy Bush;
  • overly aggressive and inappropriate advances to women;
  • aggressive use of eminent domain to get his developments completed;
  • supposed stiffing of contractors;
  • numerous corporate bankruptcies;
  • relentless and often personal attacks on almost all his opponents;
  • being the subject of various lawsuits.

These are indicative of Trump’s numerous character flaws but frankly come as no surprise. Some of this sadly comes with the territory of a mega rich billionaire. Most mega wealthy people in the US are dogged by lawsuits; most are frivolous attempts at out of court settlements. Most of the rude outbursts were manifestations of Trump’s political naiveté (e.g. attacking the Khans who were definitely Clinton operatives and deeply involved in abuse of the business visa programme BUT who’s loss of their son in Iraq made them politically untouchable). Trump’s misogyny is sadly typical as well – it doesn’t make it right but it does not disqualify him from office, especially when one considers the peccadillos of many prior Presidents Republican and Democrat.

Let’s look at Clinton’s negatives and see how they stack up:

  • Hillary got a child rapist off a serious sentence and bragged about how she roughed up the child victim in court to do it.
  • Hillary handled Bill’s numerous ‘bimbo eruptions’ with concerted campaigns of intimidation and attempts to silence these women. This included aggressive use of private detectives, filing of counter claims, intense harassment and threats of financial ruin from libel suits. There was no ‘let the victim speak’ like her claimed support of women victims of sexual and other violence.
  • Her ethical lapses over the Rose Law billing scandal, the Whitewater investment and the White House travel office scandal are well known. Hillary used subterfuge, lies and obfuscation to cover her tracks in a pattern that has become her standard modus operandi.
  • Clinton’s time as Secretary of State is littered with abject policy failures. Her famous Russian reset emboldened Putin to invade Crimea and back nationalist Russian insurgents to undermine the central Ukraine. Her fingers were all over Obama’s disastrous Syrian policy and his inaction that has fueled the civil war and the massive refugee crisis and vastly increased Russian influence in the region. She was supportive of the awful Iranian nuclear deal and is singularly unable to point to any substantive achievement in office or her driving of any key Senate legislation.
  • Clinton’s inaction and incompetence was most evident in her appallingly bad judgement over Libya. Gaddafi had been well contained and had given up all attempts to obtain nukes and yet she pushed for regime change with no viable replacement opening Libya up to violent chaos as rival factions soon dominated by ISIS (and all the extreme Muslim fundamentalist violence that accompanies them) filled the vacuum. Add to this her deaf ear to the many requests for a security upgrade at the US Consulate in Benghazi, the untimely death of Ambassador Stevens and three other US security personnel represents a failure of her basic duties as SoS. Her (and the entire Obama Administration) blaming the incident on some obscure internet video (when documents show she knew from the get-go it was a terrorist related attack) and lying to the families of the deceased, was a low point in the conduct of any senior Administration official.
  • Bill and set about to leverage off her influence as SoS by employing aggressive shake down pay-for-play tactics via the Clinton Foundation. The sheer level of greed, graft and corruption evident in the nefarious actions of the Clinton Foundation make Trump’s eminent domain and Trump U excesses look like tiny pin pricks. Peter Schweitzer’s Clinton Cash movie (viewable for free here https://youtu.be/7LYRUOd_QoM ) details the cleverly worked corruption on a grand scale enriching the Clintons to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars and ensuring lavish private jet and luxury hotel accommodation for the Clintons and their entourage of hangers on.
  • Clinton’s blatant use of a non-secure and non authorised external email server was conceived precisely to enable her to evade normal Congressional scrutiny over her actions whilst in office concerning the Clinton Foundation. She has repeatedly, consistently and blatantly lied about this server (and the emails sent from it) since it was discovered in March 2016. She and her staff engaged in systematic attempts to destroy key evidence after given notice of Congressional interest in seeing her emails constituting clear cut examples of obstruction of justice. Her cavalier attitude towards classified material (including the sending of emails given the very highest levels of security classification) from her insecure server is such that would earn any lessor mortal a spell in a Federal penitentiary. Various experts have weighed in (including senior FBI sources) that at least five foreign powers hostile to the US likely penetrated her server and obtained highly classified top secret information including the names and addresses of intelligence assets located inside the security intelligence agencies of potentially hostile nations such as Pakistan jeopardising operational secrecy and even agents’ lives.

Clinton’s failings were (and are) far more consequential. They have led to foreign policy disasters. They have emboldened Putin and allowed Russia to emerge as a regional power. They have endangered national security and her incompetence has led to the death of four US embassy staff and she lied to cover up what happened. Everywhere you turn with the Clintons you see graft, greed, incompetence, lies, cover ups, attempts to blame others and them taking donations from vile dictators and totalitarian regimes whilst betraying allies such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Israel. I’m sorry but insulting a fat beauty queen and talking about grabbing pussy doesn’t come close to the corrupt mess that is Hillary Clinton and everything she touches. Despite the MSM blowing up Trump’s negatives in an endless drumbeat of revelations and downplaying the Clinton’s multitudinous scandals, voters could assign the correct weight to the seriousness of each candidate’s deficiencies and opted for Trump’s antics that, whilst very unpleasant in a frat boy kind of way, did not jeopardize national security, lead to a loss of independence of Crimea or to the avoidable death of embassy staff.

2 – Power of the MSM and the elite political class has been permanently shattered

Never in my living memory has media coverage of a major political campaign been so incredibly lopsided in favour of one candidate. It is well known that the US mainstream media tilt to the left and reliably support Democrat candidates. But MSM support for Clinton was on a scale that was unprecedented. Trump’s every gaffe however minor was relentlessly and repeatedly reported. The anti woman material received blanket, wall to wall coverage day after day. Collusion between the Clinton campaign and key media, often suspected, was fully confirmed in various of the WikiLeaks releases and were never refuted. The DNC Chair Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor, gave the campaign a couple of CNN debates questions in advance. Campaign talking points featured often in the line of questioning undertaken by MSM moderators. Lester Holt from NBC was caught rehearsing his line of questioning before the NBC debate with Clinton’s people and the campaign gave talking points on Trump to prominent liberal Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank that he duly published. And these are the incidents we know about.

But it was the attitude of political elites from the Republican Party that led to a circumstance unheard of in any Presidential election campaign – that of the old elite of the party of the nominee actively opposing the nominee. At the nadir of the campaign, Trump had to endure countless attacks from within his own party from the Bushes, Mitt Romney and a line of ‘Never Trump’ prominent conservative commentators such as Bill Kristol, Fred Barnes, Eric Erikson and virtually the entire editorial board and contributors of National Review such as Jonah Goldberg. At the peak of the Billy Bush tape furor, even prominent and highly regarded conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt abandoned Trump and called for him to stand down.

Trump took none of this lying down and repeatedly and forcefully struck back. His stump speeches were littered with attacks on the media to the roar of approval from his huge crowds. He was scathing in his denunciations of those on the right who attacked him and at several junctures in the campaign seemed to be spending more time arguing with Republicans than fighting Clinton. A parade of Congressional Republicans, especially those in vulnerable Senate seats, denounced Trump and tried to create distance from him.

In the end, the chattering classes (including those in NZ on the right like Matthew Hooton) and their media fellow travelers entirely misread Trump’s audience. Via social media (like Facebook and Twitter) and his large number of huge rallies across the nation and direct email, Trump went over the heads of the elites and got his message out. He astutely used new media such as less hostile conservative bloggers and a raft of supporting talk back radio hosts. Once the primaries were over and the MSM turned on him, he stuck mostly to interviews on Fox News and increasingly only with his biggest fan boy, TV and radio commentator Sean Hannity. Whilst Hannity was pilloried by many conservatives for his almost sycophantic support of Trump, his ratings climbed as there was a thirst from middle America to see and hear Trump unfiltered by hostile MSM attitudes and attempts to ignore him. Just as was the case with the governing media elites in Britain who castigated supporters of Brexit, average voters saw through the bias and could make judgements about Trump that were far more balanced and nuanced seeing a net positive in his bombastic style of populism. Audiences and readership for the network TV channels, left leaning cable channels and the old print media giants had been declining before 2016. This election cycle has signaled the death knell of any residual influence the mainstream media once had, so blatant was their bias for Clinton and so pernicious were their tactics used to assist her.

3 – This election was partially a referendum on Obama’s performance and Trump pounded Obama’s weaknesses

Notwithstanding Obama’s relatively good personal approval ratings this far into his second term, Trump seized on Obama’s two most controversial legacies: the Iran nuclear deal and Obamacare. The tawdry sight of hundreds of millions of cash in dollars, euros and Swiss francs seen being loaded onto pallets just prior to the release of US hostages, gave every impression of a cash for hostages deal further underscoring how weak and ineffectual the Obama Administration looked in their dealings with the Iranians.

As for Obamacare, Obama’s signature domestic achievement is in tatters. Special co-ops set up to provide cheap insurance have mostly gone under, many of the state insurance exchanges (online marketplaces) have been rendered worthless by so many insurance providers in various states pulling out. But by far the biggest and electorally damaging aspect of Obamacare’s failings has been the relentless march of massive premium hikes in the 5 years since the legislation has been operative. This has been coupled with reduced doctor choice and big leaps in aggregate deductibles and copays. Whilst federal subsidies have taken some of the sting out of these increases, the embattled middle class who earn too much for subsidies, have been forced to absorb these huge premium hikes and policy provision constraints when Obama told them the Affordable Care Act would reduce costs whilst they could keep their plan and their doctor. All these promises were dramatically broken. One week before the election, voters got their 2017 Obamacare renewals and were stunned with sticker shock at some of the premium hikes (on the back of 4 previous years of hikes). Trump pounded on Obamacare at every opportunity promising a full repeal in his first 100 days in office.

4 – Clinton could not replicate Obama’s winning coalition from 2008 and 2012

Obama won because of the record turnout (and vote for him) from Blacks, Hispanics and Millennials. The comparison between 2016 and 2012 saw Clinton underperforming compared to Obama in all three key demographic groups:

  • Blacks went 93 Obama and 6 Romney in 2012 but only 88 Clinton and 8 Trump in 2016 or a 7-point swing.
  • Hispanics went 71 Obama and 27 Romney in 2012 but only 65 Clinton and 29 Trump in 2016 or an 8-point swing.
  • Millennials went 60 Obama and 37 Romney in 2012 but only 55 Clinton and 37 Trump in 2016 or a 5-point swing.

In each instance Clinton underperformed Obama and for Blacks and Hispanics, despite all the criticism Trump endured over his harsher immigration stance, he overperformed compared to Romney!

5 – Polls were wrong …. again!

Underestimating support for centre right parties and candidates has become a feature of various elections over the last two years. The following elections all saw centre right parties outperform their polling in various jurisdictions: the 2014 US Midterms, the 2015 Israeli Knesset election, the 2015 UK General Election and the most dramatic of all (until now), the June 2016 Brexit vote where poll aggregates the day before had Remain up by 2% only for Brexit to win by 4% or a 6% miss.

Commentators have speculated about the role of the so-called shy Tory voter and pollsters in the US seem to be unable to find a way to identify shy Trump voters. So toxic had Trump’s political brand become in the media, social media and the public square that Trump supporters and voters (like me) disguised their intentions in public discussion due to the stigma attached to, and opprobrium directed toward, support for Trump. This time around, the failure of pollsters to identify hidden Trump voters (and to assume the 2012 Obama coalition would turn out for Hillary) was spectacular. The vaunted Real Clear Politics (RCP) average had Clinton up 3.2% in the raft of polls issued on Monday November 7th whereas Clinton won the popular vote by 0.2%.

But of course it is individual states (and their electoral College votes) that determines who will be President and the polling failure at the state level was even more pronounced. Here is the ‘rogues’ gallery’ of how far wrong the polls were for most of the key battleground states (in alphabetical order). This is the margin between the actual Trump vote and his Monday November 7 RCP average:

Florida (+4.2%), Iowa (+6.4%), Michigan (+3.7%), Minnesota (a staggering +11.4%), North Carolina (+2.8%), Ohio (+5.1%), Pennsylvania (+3%) and Wisconsin (+7.5%). Only in New Hampshire, Arizona, Colorado and Virginia were polls close and only in Nevada did Clinton overperform from her RCP average.

The shy Tory syndrome is not going to go away. Mainstream median voters who lean to the right are rudely crowded off the public square by Orwellian attempts by angry leftists to ban anything they disagree with and label it as ‘hate speech’. Ordinary centre right voters will continue to lie or avoid pollsters to spare themselves the hassle of the dealing with SJWs and progressive activists and if pollsters will continue to skewer their samples in favour of left leaning candidates and parties then those on the left are going to continue to be shocked by results that don’t match the polls.

6 – WikiLeaks’ in October did more damage than Comey’s announcement

The steady drumbeat of revelations that were drip fed to the media and waiting people via social media throughout October revealed the inner workings of the Clinton campaign and threw up a series of ugly truths. Space does not permit their telling but they were beginning to sag Clinton’s numbers before Comey announced his bombshell on October 28th. Faced with a potential revolt from dozens of senior FBI agents who threatened to resign en-mass and reveal the true reasons for Clinton’s lack of being indicted (the political interference of the Obama appointees in the Department of Justice) AND the fact that even more damning material was held on the Clintons by the New York Police Department who too had threatened to go public, it was not possible for Comey to hide from Congress the fact that the FBI had the Wiener laptop and that it contained possibly hitherto unknown (and destroyed) Clinton emails. That the FBI searched 650,000 emails in just over a week to declare Clinton again in the clear seems lost on her supporters who veered from praising Comey to damning him to praising him again. When all is said and done, the fault lies not with Comey but the Democrat Party for nominating a candidate who carried with her the baggage of a secret email hoard that was hidden from scrutiny many of which were destroyed when knowledge of their existence was unearthed. If you don’t want your candidate to be tainted with the threat of possible indictment for intelligence breaches, then perhaps you ought to have chosen someone else without a slow burning scandal hanging over them.

7 – Neglected working and middle class voters in the Rust Belt saw Trump as their only champion

If there is one policy issue on which I part company most clearly with Trump, it is the issue of free trade. I’m an ardent champion of free trade. But globalisation has consequences and a disproportionate number of those affected in the US are the workers in the Rust Belt states where traditional powerhouse US industries of coal, steel, shipbuilding, car manufacturing and other heavy industries have seen countless factories and millions of jobs lost to China, Asia and since NAFTA, Mexico and Canada. I don’t believe in protectionism and Trump promised the rust belt that he’d bring their jobs back with tariffs on goods made in China and Mexico. This has all the makings of a trade war and one would hope that the reality of governing will dawn on President Trump. That said, Trump owes his Presidency to the four mid-west states where his message of economic populism and protectionism resonated the most powerfully: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio. In the case of the first three, they have not been won by a Republican in almost three decades. Trump won non-college educated whites by margins even more dramatically lopsided than Reagan did in his 1984 landslide. Clinton was an anathema to the working-class base that once was the bedrock of the Roosevelt coalition and she lost it to a New York billionaire!

 8 – Protecting the southern border and limiting immigration from countries that harbour Islamic terrorism was not racist

A common criticism of Trump is that he is racist and when asked why, his opponents cite the wall Trump proposes to build along the Mexican border. Trump won because middle America is fed up with the porous border on the South and the many failed promises by various Presidents to build a proper fence. Trump played on a range of fears associated with uncontrolled illegal Latino immigration: the imported criminals and the range of horrific murders and rapes committed by recidivist illegal felons, the loss of American jobs, the changing cultural shape of cities in border states and the seemingly uncontrollable flow of drugs coming from Mexico blighting young American lives. To many Americans, Trump’s promise to build a wall was not just common sense but music to their ears and accusations of bigotry and racism, implicitly directed at them by elites in their criticism of Trump, got their hackles up and further fueled anti media sentiment.

The same is true of Trump’s promise to pause immigration from Muslim terrorist hotspot countries until a much more rigorous screening process could be put in place. The attacks in San Bernardino, perpetrated by Islamic fanatics who both emigrated to the US under normal rules and yet whose radical tendencies were not picked up but yet were plain to see, drove home how US Federal law enforcement and screening has been weakened and hampered by political correctness and pro Muslim sentiment to the extent that the San Bernardino killers’ radical postings on Facebook were not allowed to be even be assessed by the Department of Homeland Security when their application for residency in the US was being processed. Liberals cried foul and Islamophobia when Trump called for a temporary halt to such applications until a tighter screening regime could be implemented. Middle America, tired of random attacks and seeing the results of untrammeled Muslim migration into Europe, agreed that such a policy was simply wise and ignored media criticism of Trump’s proposal.

9 – The Supreme Court balance kept many conservatives on board

I count myself in this camp. I was prepared to overlook Trump’s many manifest faults and flawed policy positions on this one issue alone. The death of Antonin Scalia was a shock to conservatives as he was the most reliable conservative voice on SCOTUS and he brought a ferocious and indominable intellect to his rulings. Clinton would’ve replaced him with a progressive liberal judge who would do the left’s bidding on all the big issues. With liberal Ruth Bader Ginsberg and squishy centrist Anthony Kennedy old enough to likely be retiring in the term of the 45th President, the prospect of ideologically shaping the court for a generation was beckoning. To conservatives who watch the courts and know how liberals love to legislate for their agenda from the bench, the prospect of 25 years with a 6 to 3 (or even 7 to 2) liberal split raised the very real prospect of: permanent undermining of the 2nd Amendment with a view to de facto gun control, the foisting of unions on thriving businesses where even workers voted against their presence, the legalising (and then federal funding of) late term abortion, the forcing of extremist trans-gender politics down the throats of the states with the threat of withdrawal of federal funding, the weakening of the 1st Amendment by restricting conservative speech such as allowing the so-called Fairness Doctrine forcing conservative dominated talkback radio to balance their content and enlarging the scope of what constitutes hate speech, undermining States rights by chipping away at the 10th Amendment and supporting unilateral Executive Orders like those used by Obama to bypass Congress. Stopping Hillary’s liberal judges and the progressive’s dream agenda (none of these issues would receive majority support at any ballot box) became Job 1 for many conservatives. When Trump named a list of 20 jurists from which he would choose his SCOTUS nominees, he received strong support for his choices from conservative legal and constitutional experts. That was a signal for many thinking folk on the centre-right to hold their noses and vote for Trump.

10 – Middle America is fed up with political correctness

David posted on this only a few hours ago. After decades of the progressive left controlling the media, Hollywood, academia, the bureaucracy, the unions, the schools and elite opinion, mainstream median voters had had enough. They see universities, once the bastion of free speech, shutting down conservative speakers and trying to protect young minds with trigger warnings, safe spaces on campus and labelling anything not approved by the progressive intelligentsia as ‘hate speech’ and cried foul. When the Obama Administration attempted to foist trans-gender toilet access on States with the threat of withholding of federal funds and when North Carolina legislated against such needless ideological intervention, people could see that the left’s agenda was forcing people to accept an 18-year-old man who identifies as a woman into a girl’s bathroom (like Target attempted to do until a massive boycott of customers forced a practical compromise), people said enough is enough. Trump is a massive antidote to all this political correctness and the more the media elites criticised him for his non-PC comments and attitudes, the more people fed up with rampant PC encrochments supported him.

11 – Trump’s unconventional campaign worked

The Clinton campaign outspent the Trump campaign 2:1. They had a superior ground game and had a tail wind of near universal media support. Trump aggressively used Twitter and Facebook to great effect. Trump also crisscrossed the country and spoke at over 100 rallies. Each of these rallies were massive affairs held in large arenas, stadiums and convention centres such was the large numbers who wished to hear him speak. More often than not, people would queue for hours in advance with cars banking up for miles and long lines awaiting to enter arenas. The crowds were reminiscent of the Obama rallies in 2008 in terms of passion and energy. Clinton held fewer events and all were in significantly smaller venues with less passionate crowds. As the campaign drew to its climax, she resorted to holding concerts with pop icons like Beyoncé and Bruce Springsteen to artificially pump numbers of attendees.

Yard signs were another telling marker of campaign enthusiasm. In key battleground states, such as Pennsylvania, Trump signs were ubiquitous and Clinton signs almost nonexistent even in towns and counties that had voted Democrat for decades. The media poo pooed these indications of campaign energy and intensity and were proven to be wrong. Clinton spent over $1.4 billion to Trump’s $700 million and yet no amount of dollars could compensate for a lousy candidate overshadowed by the stench of corruption.

Conclusion

I’ll leave the final word on Trump’s election to a most unlikely source – a scion of liberal Hollywood thinking, movie maker Michael Moore. Moore, after seeing Trump’s appeal up close in his home state of Michigan, made a pro-Clinton anti-Trump movie documentary. At a promotion event, he spoke of Trump’s appeal. Inadvertently he makes the most powerful case for Trump and he explains (in ways sometimes NSFW) why Trump would win https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lMp_363B2c . He was most prescient and accurate in his assessment. It is a MUST SEE clip.

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