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Trump’s victory was a shocker for the ages. Here’s why

President-elect Donald Trump gives his acceptance speech during

President-elect Donald Trump gives his acceptance speech during his election night rally on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in New York. Credit: AP / John Locher

Trump shook the map

Donald Trump’s campaign brain trust wasn’t feeling very optimistic when the counting began, several reports said. Their internal polls looked like everyone else’s — not good for Trump.

It turned out that the flaw in almost all of the pre-election data was that the Trump campaign was a unique phenomenon. There was no previous race against which to analyze it, Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee told BuzzFeed.

That realization built slowly — first in Florida, where he took a lead that Hillary Clinton’s supposed reserves in the state’s more liberal southeast counties couldn’t overcome. Then, in North Carolina, where polls showed her ahead.

But most stunning of all was the industrial Midwest — the Rust Belt states that have bled blue-collar jobs for decades — a fault, Trump argued throughout his campaign, of trade policies and a “rigged system” that protected moneyed interests rather than American workers.

Wisconsin, rated likely a Clinton win until the end, went his way, and Michigan was on the verge of joining it. He took hard-fought Ohio with relative ease — a margin of 8 to 9 points. He scored a huge upset in Pennsylvania, too. And so tumbled Clinton’s firewall.

Rallying the base, big league

Trump was outspent. His get-out-the-vote operation was rated far inferior to Clinton’s. But enough Trump voters turned themselves out to the polls, as they did to his rallies, to overcome the Democrat’s built-in advantages.

Preliminary exit polls showed Trump’s margin with white voters without college degrees was 67% to Clinton’s 28% — a 39-point spread. That’s 13 points better than Mitt Romney in 2012.

Four years ago, Republicans saw its white base as a shrinking demographic, which necessitated a bigger push for Latinos. With Trump as nominee, that didn’t happen.

But their growing strength and surge for Clinton wasn’t enough for the Democrats, at least not this time.

No to status quo

Trump’s relentless portrayal of an America in decline — and his promise to make it great again — took root. Four in 10 voters said they wanted the next president to bring “needed change,” and Trump won them overwhelmingly.

The exit surveys found a country pessimistic about the state of the U.S. economy, with some 6 in 10 calling it not so good or poor.

Gender gap wasn’t a chasm

Concerns about Trump’s treatment of women — which peaked with the release of his vulgar “Access Hollywood” video — took a toll, but didn’t turn the tide in Clinton’s favor.

About 7 in 10 voters said they were bothered by accusations regarding his treatment of women. About 6 in 10 women were bothered a lot.

Clinton led among women overall by about 13 points. Trump’s popularity among men canceled that out. And Clinton ran about 10 points behind Barack Obama’s 2012 performance among white men without a college degree.

Obama, by contrast, drew about a third of their votes four years ago.

Black and brown

Clinton counted on black and Latino antipathy to Trump bringing out enough voters to offset Trump’s strength among white, working-class voters. It didn’t happen.

Some 88% of black voters supported Clinton, versus 8% for Trump, who said repeatedly that black communities are in the worst shape ever. But Obama did better in 2012, with 93%.

Only 65% of Latinos supported her, while 29% cast their votes for Trump, CNN said. In 2012, Obama won 71% of the Hispanic vote, while Romney secured 27%.

While that’s a large margin, it’s not as big as President Barack Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney in 2012. Obama locked up 93% of the black vote to Romney’s 7%.

Blame game

Democrats will have a long list of nominees to blame for her defeat.

There is FBI Director James Comey, who shook her campaign in its final two weeks with the on-again, off-again email investigation.

There is Anthony Weiner, whose sexting addiction started that ball rolling. There was WikiLeaks, and the Russians suspected by Democrats of being behind the cyberhacks. And as in 2000 with Ralph Nader, the third-party candidates like Jill Stein who competed for crucial votes. Some will say sexism was a factor, too.

But Clinton herself could never shake her own unpopularity — a product of the email scandal, relentless GOP attacks in the past four years on such misadventures as Benghazi and an inability to persuade enough voters that she could bring about the kind of change they wanted.


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