Donald Trump has been voted as the 45th President elect of USA.
He was not expected to win – because he had so many skeletons in his cupboard – which kept on tumbling out with monotonous regularity. He was also seen as a divisive figure by many and was also caught, on tape, making derogatory remarks against women.
Keeping these transgressions in mind, the poll pundits and mainstream media forecasted – with certainty, a comfortable win for Hillary Clinton.
But, the D-day threw up a cruel surprise for Hillary Clinton – she lost the closely fought election to Trump!
How could Hillary’s campaign team, poll pundits and mainstream media get it so horribly wrong?
- The poll pundits and mainstream media while arriving at the poll forecast did not poll rural Americans – a forgotten class. And these folks turned up in large numbers and voted for Trump.
- Both the campaign team of Clinton, poll pundits and mainstream media underestimated the feelings and sentiments of working-class white Americans who, although a majority in their own country, felt like minorities - and they voted like a minority – keeping aside all the differences they voted en masse for Trump. Why? Because he promised to reclaim and restore to them the American dream which is eluding them.
- Voters knew what Trump stood for – clearly and unequivocally: He stood against jihadists and swore to bring them to book; he promised to check unrestricted flow of illegal immigrants into America - and when it came to Mexico - hold your breath - he threatened to build an impenetrable wall between the 2 nations and get the Mexicans to pay for it; he also made it clear that he was staunchly against outsourcing to China and other nations because it resulted in jobs vaporising in USA and like a true blue blooded business person he would re-negotiate trade treaties in favour of America! What did Hillary Clinton stand for? She stood against Trump. That’s all!
- Trump clearly encapsulated his promise in 4 immortal words to his voters – Make America Great Again! Can you recollect Hillary Clinton's promise to voters? Well, many will not be able to. It was – Change We Need! So what is the difference between these 2 taglines? A lot. Take Trump tagline – it is crafted to appeal to people’s self-interest and therefore it touches their heart and emotions. Once this connect is established then the behavior of people towards Trump changes – and the voters pose a question to him – what do we have to do make America great again? Simple, just vote for me and I will make America great again – and once that happens then you too will get a share of it!
- This was Trump’s promise. But why did the voters believe in Trump’s ability to deliver on his promise? For that Trump offered a logic that may appear flawed and fragile to many but seems to have worked with a sizeable number of voters – he repeatedly informed the voters that he was a billionaire many times over implying that he was smart and now he will do for them what he has done for himself.
- The poll pundits, Hillary campaign team and mainstream media underestimated the anger and resentment that the average American harboured in their heart against career politicians and the Washington establishment. The general feeling was that the career politicians working out of Washington were in cahoots with each other and worked to protect each other’s interests and in the process have totally forgotten the citizen who elected them. Hillary Clinton was perceived to be just such a career politician and a strong pillar of establishment in Washington. Trump, on the other hand, was perceived as a non-career politician and anti- establishment. This worked magically in his favour!
- Many voters believed that successive generations of politicians had sacrificed American interest in deference to the interests of other nations. But, they believed that Trump being a shrewd businessperson had the necessary negotiation skills to re-negotiate the deals and get a favourable deal for American.
- Trump cleverly captured in one word what he wanted Hillary Clinton to be perceived as – in the minds of voters - crooked. He started referring to her as ‘crooked’ Hillary. If that was not enough he also sprinkled in a flavour of sexism in the campaign – by derisively refereeing to her as ‘…that women’.
- Did Hillary Clinton make a mistake or score a self-goal? It may seem so. But the process had started much earlier. Unfortunately, the chickens came home to roost during the election. Firstly, Hillary Clinton, while still secretary of state also had a private e-mail account and private server. Did she do it to circumvent government supervision? The jury is still out on it. Next take her speaking engagement, which she undertook after she resigned as Secretary of State & charged $ 200,000+ per speech. In the process, she made millions from it. Groups who invited her as a speaker had lobbied with the government and hence the fees could be construed to be for influencing government.
1. Trump came across as being - ‘authentic’ – while Hillary came across as being rehearsed!
2. Make America Great Again - metamorphosed from merely being a campaign slogan to a movement – because it resonated with a large majority of the white middle class and rural American and other neglected sections of people who felt betrayed by the successive generation of self-seeking and self-serving career politician & power hungry Washington establishment! Result: Trump’s 'movement' won over Hillary’s campaign!
I know in hindsight we all have 20/20 vision. But history reminds us that before a catastrophic event happens, it gives a few warnings. Only, when these warnings are ignored that the accident happens. Take Titanic. There were at least 4 warnings from other ships about ice in the area, on the day of the accident. The final warning came an hour before the disaster struck! All of it were ignored – result – sinking of Titanic!
In hindsight. I am sure Hillary Clinton's campaign team would be seeing clearly all the warning signs that have been mentioned. The team ignored them. Result – Hillary Clinton crashing out of the race leaving Donald Trump to be crowned the 45th President elect of the USA!
About The Author:
In this series, Rajesh Srivastava, Business Strategist and Visiting Faculty at IIM Indore gives you a regular dose of strategy case studies to help you think and keep you one step ahead as a professional as compared to your peers. Rajesh is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore and IIT Kanpur and has over 2 decades of experience in the FMCG industry. All previous Strategy with RS posts can be found here.