By Vinny Davis*
The 2016 Elections defied all expectations since the very beginning. These were evident with the massive support for Bernie Sanders and his socialist programmes winning hearts of youth in U.S, or even an outsider like Trump winning the Republican Presidential bid. The Presidential race was pitted as a contest between the worst of candidates as both the Democratic and Republican candidates Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump were equally unpopular and a better candidate from both sides could have changed the scenarios.
The final results reveals how Trump won 289 electoral college votes against Clinton’s 218 and sealed his Presidency as the 45 President of United States of America. Trump campaign wanted to drive out the corrupt political establishment from the White House and his success in resonating the same with popular vote overpowered the Democratic clamour of how core American values will get compromised under a Trump Presidency and may affect the social harmony in the famously called “Melting pot” American society.
Why was 2016 Elections notable?
2016 Electoral campaign also witnessed the most racially and ethnically diverse demographic mix up going to the polls. Out of the 225 million eligible voters, 156 million were white voters. This time 31% of the ethnic mix up constituted African Americans (about 27 million), Hispanics (about 27 million), and Asians (about 9 million). The surge in the population of Hispanics and Asians was about 17% from the previous census. The Republican candidate Donald Trump’s anti-immigration stance was expected to tip in favour of Hilary for whom women and ethnic minorities were the major electoral base; whilst for Trump it was whites and uneducated whites. However we couldn’t find a strong favour amongst Blacks for Hilary when compared with their strong showing for Obama in 2008 and 2012. The same could be said about Hispanics and African Americans, from the swing states of Florida(29 votes in Electoral College), Arizona (11 votes in Electoral College)and Georgia(16 votes in Electoral College), all which were won by Trump. The victories in Ohio (18 votes) and North Carolina further cemented Trump’s bid.
Upon analysing the support that Trump garnered, his Make America Great Again and need for Change slogans seems to have resonated well with those voters who would be been experiencing an alienation from the system and was nursing strong anti-establishment sentiments. Hilary Clinton had in fact endorsed a slew of programmes of Bernie Sanders. Even though the Democratic party conspired against the Presidential nomination of Sanders, they were able to get him on board for supporting Hilary’s candidature for the 2016 Presidency. A return of a socialist agenda was also reflected strongly in such policies and Hilary also endorsed the same. But from the poor showing of Hilary in Democratic strongholds one can see that Hilary was unable to translate the popular support for Sanders into votes. The perception of Hilary being representative of a privileged elite still hold strong and could have tipped the votes against her favour. The same reason worked against her in the 2008 Primaries race against Obama. Hilary’s character was always dubious as she presented herself as the inevitable nominee (from the social/political establishment of Washington based elite) often failing to understand the undercurrents of a strong anti-incumbency feeling amongst the masses.
A Trump victory will leave open many unanswered questions on the so-called hidden votes in the polls. It could also be suggestive of how the American citizens lied in the polls, without openly admitting their support to an outsider candidate known more his misogynist remarks and unpredictability in his policies. The resultant outcome will also reveal the strong anti- globalization trend that is making itself felt across the world, owing to the massive inequality that it draws between rich and poor. The rural uneducated Whites who lost out from the globalization induced benefits came in large number for Trump. The victory of Trump does have parallels with the support for Brexit in the United Kingdom, wherein the immigration induced fear of losing jobs and employment opportunities were key in reinforcing anti-globalization agenda. The Democrats party is will be facing a test of its legitimacy, as clear anti-incumbency factor was being reflected in this year’s electoral outcome. Projecting Barack Obama, a President who two terms as their star campaigner in States like Michigan (where a lot of manufacturing units were shut down) will be now perceived as strategic miscalculations. The Hilary campaign attempted to build on the goodwill of Barack Obama and ground support of Bernie Sanders to woo voters. But both these strategies were not enough to convince the ordinary masses. The citizens were concerned of the poor shape of its economy($16 trillion worth GDP), that is already reeling under a debt of $14 Trillion debt. The flagship ObamaCare policy did have its share of pros and cons. Though the Obama govt brandished of lowering unemployment rate to 4.9% (from 9.5% of 2010) or generating 15 million jobs or bring 20 million under health insurance coverage, a lot of medium and small enterprises were badly hit as they employers were unable to provide insurance coverage of its employees.
Though it is speculated that a Trump victory can further unleash social tensions (due to the conservative nationalism harboured by him) between the Whites and ethnic minorities, the same does may not strongly hold ground as of now at least . Yet, as a President, Trump is expected to mellow down on many of his proposed policies. This turnaround was evident in his softer approach towards ethnic minorties and his reversal of stand to deport those immigrants with criminal records and not all the 11 million undocumented migrants. The economic shocks from a Trump Presidency did send the global markets crashing, but the demeanor of Trump will be closely watched in the coming days. The acceptance speech by Trump depicted a more mature version of him. It will also remain to be seen how the GOP will work cohesively with Trump in Congress.
*Vinny Davis is Managing Associate at CPPR Centre for Strategic Studies. The views expressed by the author is personal and does not represent that of CPPR.
This article was first published in Foreign Policy News, click the link to read the article: What to learn from the victory of Donald Trump