The U.S. Presidential Election
The U.S. Presidential Election
Reflections from election night
Analysis from Thomas Medaglia, Falls Communications, USA
“Unbelievable; we did not see this coming; impossible; how could this be; my crystal ball was smashed; boy did we get this one wrong!”…. These were but a few of the many reactionary comments made by pundits and Clinton supporters this morning as it began to sink in that Trump had upset Clinton. The nation experienced what our founding fathers would most likely describe, if they were alive today, as a needed correction in our Republic.
As the various candidate campaigns worked their respective ways through the primaries and then the months leading up to the conventions, an underlying uneasiness began to emerge across America that few realized. Donald Trump recognized this phenomenon early on and built his unorthodox campaign around this collected sense of discontentment of those who felt the country was heading in the wrong direction and that their children’s lives would not be as good as theirs. Trump gave voice to this anxiety and capitalized on it to upset Hilary Clinton and her well-organized campaign machine in what many consider the most exciting and historical change election of our country’s history to become the 45th President of the United States.
Over the next several months and years, this election will be studied by both parties to see what happened and how the country has changed going forward. However, over the last several elections, many in the electorate have asked for change from their elected officials only to find the same processes and the same individuals in charge resulted in no changes. They were concerned with the elitists running the government and the unaccounted bureaucracy of unelected officials making laws. Speech after speech, election after election, they found no change which led them to believe their officials did not care about them or the fact they were falling behind, especially those in the middle class and in rural America. The pundits, pollsters and the Clinton campaign did not pick this up. This, combined with the fact that people were hesitant to be honest with polling entities to disclose who they were voting for or even talk to pollsters in the first place, all contributed to the failure of the “experts” to pick up the feelings and needs of the forgotten Americans.
The above fact, along with the constant dissemination of information relative to the questionable unsecured email server decision and the Clinton Foundation issues, contributed to the Clinton demise. But again, none of this was fully understood or reflected in the pre-Election Day polls or exit polling. Dr. Larry Sabato commented on this election’s polling misread, including his crystal ball failure that, “garbage in and garbage out” resulted in a complete misread of this election. They all used bad information or lacked proper information.
In his early morning speech after Hillary Clinton called to concede, Donald Trump emphasized that America needs to come together now and “bind the wounds of division.” He said what the country had just witnessed was not just a campaign but also a great movement with the work just beginning. He ended his acceptance speech by saying that the “forgotten men and women of this country will be forgotten no more.” Despite pundits calling this an historic election, Trump was quick to point out that “to be historic, we have to do a great job.” He will now move on to formalize his management team and the transfer of power in January.
As for the down ticket election results, the Democrats had hoped to take both the House and the Senate back into their control; they failed on both desires. As of this writing, there are still some states and races that need to be called but it is safe to say that in the Senate, the Democrats picked up a net two seats. This was the Illinois senate seat of Mark Kirk that most experts had always expected to flip and a hard-fought race for the New Hampshire senate seat of incumbent Kelly Ayotte. In the House, they needed at least 30 seats to gain the majority and most observers predicted a 15 – 20 pick up which was far less than what was needed. However, since that did not materialize currently they have won a net gain of 6 seats with some more to probably follow, but not the numbers originally envisioned.
Many press have suggested that Speaker Ryan would have a hard time keeping his Speaker position because of a smaller majority after the election, the Freedom Caucus opposition to him and the fact that he did not readily support Trump. What is not taken into account is that the Speaker’s primary duty was to maintain the House majority. He did this and in the course, has been the most prolific fundraiser as a Speaker that the Republican Party has ever had. This truly assisted in providing key races with the money needed to counter the vast resources of their opponents.
During the Trump Administration’s first hundred days, you can expect he will work with the Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare and work with them to lower the corporate tax rate including repatriating the huge stranded profits that have not been brought back to the U.S. due to the current tax structure. He will also immediately cancel most, if not all, of President Obama’s executive orders and nominate a conservative Supreme Court Justice to replace the deceased Justice Scalia. Unlike his predecessors of recent past, Trump begins his term with his party as the majority in both the House and the Senate, which should assist him in getting an agenda moving quickly. This also is likely another election where the Electoral College winner does not win the popular vote.
As this historic and unexpected election gets dissected, more information will be provided.
Who is Donald Trump?
Donald Trump: the man
President-elect Donald Trump is now the leader of the free world. But who really is the man who managed to galvanise support from across the country and surprise pundits to win the highest office in the Western World?
Donald John Trump was born on June 14, 1946, in Jamaica Estates, Queens, a neighbourhood in New York City. He was the second youngest of five children. Trump’s older brother Fred Jr. died in 1981 from alcoholism, which Trump has said led him to avoid trying alcohol or cigarettes.
Trump was born and raised in New York City and received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. In 1971 he was put in control of his father Fred Trump’s real estate and construction company and later renamed it The Trump Organisation.
Trump has five children, all of whom were very active during his Presidential campaign.
Trump married his first wife, Czech model Ivana Zelníčková in 1977. They had three children; son Donald Jr., daughter Ivanka, and son Eric.
Following his affair with actress Marla Maples, Ivana Trump was granted an uncontested divorce in 1990. Trump and Maples got married in December 1993, two months after the birth of their daughter Tiffany. They divorced in June 1999.
In 2005, Trump married Slovene model Melania Knauss. In March 2006, she gave birth to their son, Barron William Trump.
Throughout the campaign Trump has highlighted the importance of his family, saying that Hillary needed celebrities, but he had the best weapon of them all, his children.
Before entering the political arena, Trump indulged in a celebrity lifestyle, appearing at the Miss USA pageants, which he owned from 1996 to 2015, as well as making cameo appearances in films and television series. He also hosted and co-produced The Apprentice on NBC, from 2004 to 2015. As of 2016, he was listed by Forbes as the 324th wealthiest person in the world, and 156th in the United States.
Trump has flip-flopped in his political leanings and positions over the years. Politico described his positions as “eclectic, improvisational and often contradictory”.
Trump was an early supporter of Republican Ronald Reagan in the late 1970s, but he switched to the Reform Party in 1999 for three years, running a Presidential exploratory campaign for its nomination.
From 2001 to 2008, he called himself a Democrat, but, in 2008, endorsed Republican John McCain for President and officially changed his party registration back to the GOP.
Over the years, Trump has made financial contributions to the campaigns of both Republican Party and Democratic Party candidates. Of the top ten recipients of his political contributions, six were Democrats and four were Republicans. When asked in 2015 which recent President he prefers, Trump picked Democrat Bill Clinton over the Republican Bushes.
Trump floated the idea of running for President in 1988, 2004, and 2012, as well as for Governor of New York in 2006 and 2014, but decided not enter those races. He was considered as a potential running mate for George H. W. Bush on the Republican Party’s 1988 Presidential ticket but lost out to future Vice President Dan Quayle.
During the Presidential campaign Trump was accused of showing erratic behaviour and lacking the right temperament. However, he is a maverick who has built his career on saying things how he sees them and doing what he wants. This came back to haunt him during the campaign when a recording was released of Trump openly bragging about using his celebrity status to sexually assault women (with multiple women accusing him of actually doing so). Trump denies any wrongdoing and branded the recording as “locker room” talk.
His personality was further called into question following comments about Hispanics, women, Muslims and disabled people which caused great offence. His Twitter posts have also been known to get him into trouble in the past.
What does he stand for?
His policy commitments
Trump: Policy stances
Although the campaign focused heavily on the candidates' characters, Trump's has a clear, pro-business and pro-America policy platform. Here we outline the President-elect's stances on key issues.
Donald Trump has committed to creating what he calls a “dynamic booming economy” that will create as much as 25 million new jobs over the next decade.
By creating a pro-growth (read low) tax plan and modern (read reduced) regulatory framework, Trump has said that he will boost growth to 3.5 per cent per year on average, with the potential to reach a four per cent growth rate during his presidency.
Trump has said that he is against free trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, stating that he would tell NAFTA partners that America will immediately renegotiate the terms of the agreement if elected. He has also said that he would withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Trump has been scathing about China’s approach to trade in the past, stating that it’s “unfair” subsidy behaviour is prohibited by the terms of its entrance into the World Trade Organisation.
His comments point towards a more protectionist trade approach, with the increased production and promotion of American products a priority.
On the flip side however, Trump has singled out Britain as one country with which it would be willing to strike a closer trading relationship, spurred on no doubt by the impact of Brexit on his own campaign.
Donald Trump wants to pursue an “America’s Infrastructure First” policy that supports investments in a wide range of utilities and public services such as transportation, clean water, electricity grid, telecommunications and security infrastructure.
Trump hopes to create “thousands of new jobs”, across construction, steel and manufacturing. This is part of a plan to build up the great American industries of years gone by, that he said had been obliterated by years of Washington mismanagement and corruption.
The approach is closely tied to his approach to international trade, with Trump stating that he would use money taken from the Obama-Clinton “globalisation agenda” for large infrastructure projects.
It is hardly surprising that a man who has openly boasted about minimising his own tax payments is in favour of reducing taxes further for ordinary Americans.
Trump’s tax plan will “reduce taxes across the board” and specifically target middle income and blue collar Americans, his key supporter demographic.
Despite his own tax arrangements, Trump also has committed to ensuring that the rich pay their fair share, with the caveat that no one should pay so much that it destroys jobs or undermines ability to compete.
As a Republican President, Trump is unsurprisingly against high levels of regulation. He has said that he will ask Government departments to submit a list of wasteful and unnecessary regulation which he says “kills jobs”.
Elsewhere Trump has also said that he will issue a temporary moratorium on new agency regulations that are not compelled by Congress or public safety, in order to give American companies certainty they need to reinvest and hire.
Like much of Trump’s policy platforms, his stance on immigration is designed to pander to his core support base - middle to low income Americans who, in many cases, see their jobs being taken by foreign workers. As such, Trump has committed to prioritising jobs for the American people over outside competition.
It is probable that his most infamous policy initiative – to build a wall across the Mexican border – is one that will prove ultimately unworkable, not least diplomatically. It is an idea that resonated with many supporters on his campaign trail however and he risks considerable political detriment by dropping the plans altogether.
Alongside the plan to build a wall, Trump has also committed to ending catch-and-release, meaning that anyone who illegally crosses the border will be detained until they are exported out of the USA.
The impact on the UK
A new 'Special Relationship?'
Trump's impact on the UK
What has been striking in the first few days since the election is the difference in tone struck by the British Government compared to its counterparts across Europe. While German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, could only offer the US an offer of “close cooperation” dependent on Trump’s commitment to equal rights, in a press statement Downing Street spoke of the “warmth” that Trump had for the UK, adding that building on the US-UK relationship was very important to both nations.
Indeed, Prime Minister Theresa May was quick to congratulate Donald Trump on his victory by telephone, while Trump announced following the call that the UK was a “very, very special place for me and for our country”.
Elsewhere, No.10 has rejected claims that Nigel Farage could become a “go-between” for the UK and the US, insisting that it has the right connections to Trump and his top team. Of the current cabinet ministers, Trade Secretary Liam Fox, is said to have the best connections with the Republican Party. This bodes well given Trump’s commitment during the campaign to pursue a stronger trading relationship with the UK.
So, a conciliatory approach could be in the offing, but what impact could a Trump presidency have?
The financial markets are normally the first indicators of any impact. On Wednesday morning, sterling strengthened against the dollar, rising 0.3%. However, it fell back later after Trump had delivered his victory speech.
As already outlined, we know Trump favours a closer trading relationship with the UK, but how close is far from certain as some believe his comments were a hyperbolic reaction, borne out of goodwill at the result of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.
It is perhaps Trump’s approach to trade with the rest of the world, which the UK should be most concerned about. The world economy remains in a fragile place, following the biggest financial crisis in history. Therefore Trump’s promise to label China as a “currency manipulator” and his threats to tear up global trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, may not impact the UK directly, but will have sizable impacts on the world economy, with knock-on effects for Britain. As the world's financial centre, London is particularly vulnerable to uncertainty in the financial markets.
Decoding the American voter
Analysis from Opinium
How did the polls get it wrong again?
Analysis from Adam Drummond, Head of Polling at Opinium
The parallels with Brexit are astonishing. There was the near certainty that the continuity campaign would prevail, the steady poll lead*, the evening admission of defeat by Nigel Farage in Britain and Republican pollster Frank Luntz in the US, as well as the early confidence once the results started to be counted before everything changed.
But reports of America’s embrace of fascism and white nationalism are greatly exaggerated. Not only did Hillary Clinton win the popular vote (by around 1.5% according to current projections) but the reason for her defeat was that fewer voters turned out compared to the UK referendum where turnout was higher than expected.
In 2012 Republican Mitt Romney lost the election with 60.9 million votes. In 2016 Donald Trump won with (at time of writing) 59.7 million. A drop of around a million votes.
However, Barack Obama in 2012 won with 65.9 million compared to 59.9 million for Hillary Clinton in 2016. A drop of 6 million votes.
The picture in individual states and counties is much more complicated but fundamentally, Clinton didn’t lose because of a surge in “left behind” blue collar voters supporting Trump, she lost because Trump turned out the Republican coalition and she didn’t manage to get the whole of the Obama coalition to come out and vote.
In the UK the picture was the opposite. Turnout in the 2015 general election was 66% but rose to 72% for the EU referendum, the highest in any election since 1992. However, the reasons for polls having trouble on both sides of the Atlantic appear to be similar in both cases: polls are really bad at estimating turnout.
In my experience of polling we regularly get a far higher proportion of people saying they are going to vote than can possibly be the case. Whether our samples contain too many political obsessives or whether people give the “socially acceptable” answer and say that they will vote but then don’t bother, the effect is that polls can be drawing their conclusions about vote share from an unrepresentative sample. Polling companies therefore use models based on demographics and past behaviour to try and work out how likely everyone is to vote and apply weights based on that. The only information we have to go on is previous elections so there is always an element of judgement that applies.
In the EU referendum there was a surge of people who don’t usually vote in general elections, which meant the result was different to what polls, modelled on general election turnouts, were suggesting. In the US it’s too early to say exactly what happened with the state level polls (Clinton’s lead in the popular vote is not far off what national-level polls predicted) but it’s possible the reverse happened. While Brexit was the result of “under-polled” voters coming out in large numbers, Trump may be the consequence of “over-polled” voters failing to do so in key states.
*Opinium’s “final call” poll had Leave on 51% vs. the 51.9% share in the referendum.
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