Thursday, November 10, 2016

How Donald Trump Put Together Such a Strong Showing

The polls, prediction markets and political experts all counted on a win for Hillary Clinton, whether they simply acknowledged Democrats’ many paths to the White House or predicted a sweeping victory that would shift the electoral map.

Donald Trump and the thousands of people at his rallies were just as certain those same experts — the very establishment they were running against — were all wrong.

There was too much appetite for change, Trump and his supporters said. Clinton, in public life for four decades, was too polarizing to capture a divided nation by acclamation, they insisted. The media had become too disconnected to detect the signals, they warned.

“As I’ve said from the beginning, ours was not a campaign,” Trump said in accepting victory early Wednesday after Clinton called to concede, “but rather an incredible and great movement.”

The nature of the race may have come as a surprise to political analysts from both parties, but the signs were there all along. Trump’s defiance of political convention began on the the day he announced his presidential campaign and never stopped.

Trump spoke often of the June referendum in Britain, where a majority voted to leave the European Union. “Brexit times five!” Trump said at a rally in Pennsylvania. But while a popular notion has taken hold that the polls did not predict that vote, that is not true; several predicted the outcome but were ignored by the betting markets and pundits who played up their preferred outcome.

The similarities were clear. Both movements were fueled by working-class whites, who felt left behind amid cultural and economic changes.

Experts warned of dire consequences, to the economy and to national standing, if voters in Britain chose to leave Europe or voters in the U.S. chose Trump. The same experts were sure that voters would follow their lead.

Yet these voters scoffed at those elites as they raged against globalization and immigration, deciding it was worth the gamble to disrupt a system they saw as corrupt.

“He has stood up for the people that don’t have a say,” said Tammy Tavalsky, a 50-year-old who owns a printing company with her husband and attended an especially raucous rally in Johnstown, Pa...