Why Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Election
Why Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Election

How Donald Trump Slayed Goliath

This isn’t about politics…

We can learn something from this past presidential election.

For some, it may be a difficult exercise. I understand.

But let’s give it a try.

“Garbage in, garbage out”

The polls were all wrong.

They collectively had Clinton winning, some as high as a 99 percent chance (Princeton).

We often see in the data what we want to see. Predisposition killed pollsters.

Lots of assumptions are baked into the models.

And the models are in constant flux. They propose to represent the future by looking at the past.

Lesson #1:

“Past performance does not guarantee future results.”

Don’t forget that data is just information.

Sometimes, it’s wrong.

Or, more likely, it’s misinterpreted.

Always in the spotlight

Did you notice? Trump was ALWAYS the lead story on the network & cable news.

Estimates say he got $3 billion worth of “free” television exposure.

Clinton spent $1 billion.

Do the math.

Lesson #2:

Top of mind is super important.

“There is no such thing as bad publicity.”  PT Barnum

Some have said that Trump is the modern-day equivalent of Barnum.

Messaging Mistakes

Trump said a lot of hurtful and incendiary things.

Can we agree on that?

Probably not… J


He did connect with a core.

Clinton, IMHO, didn’t.


More of the same

Clinton aligned herself with the current President.

“If you like what he’s done, go with me.”

“I’m more of the same.”

For many (estimates up to 77%), that didn’t resonate. AT ALL.

You want change, I’ll give you change!

Trump aligned himself with no one.

He was against all of the DC insiders.

“They’re all corrupt.”

“I alone can fix this.”

Lesson #3:

Know your target audience.

Trump knew his.

Clinton didn’t know hers.

IMHO, of course.

And “Me too” marketing sucks. You will lose, unless you’re extraordinary.

The emails, the “pay for play,” the lies

Clinton was the favorite all along, despite all of her shortcomings.

But people didn’t trust her.

40 years in politics did not help her (contrast with VP Joe Biden).

Too many issues. Easy targets.

For Clinton, those were all distractions…

She never told a compelling story.

“I’m an extension of Obama” wasn’t enough.

We never learned what she proposed to do.

Maybe because she wasn’t going to DO anything…

Trump kept hammering!

Trump was about change.

Now, he never really said HOW he was going to change anything.

But still, look at our last 3 elections: All about change. All of them.

He told people what they wanted to hear. And he didn’t make them go to his website to read about it.

Lesson #4:

Give ‘em what they want.

In a race this close (and it was—electoral college notwithstanding), getting 1 to 2 percent more votes is HUGE.

How did Trump do it?

He gave his audience what they wanted. Clinton didn’t. She never made a case.

Trump didn’t win so much as Clinton lost…

Hey now, let me explain.

I’m not saying Trump’s victory wasn’t legitimate.

What I am saying is look at the numbers (or don’t – data often belies the real story – see first few slides):

10 million fewer voted for Clinton than Obama

If those 10 million Obama voters had turned out, Clinton probably would have won.

But they didn’t.


Why? I’ll tell you why.

Even though Clinton gave her audience what they wanted:

  • Free college
  • No cuts to SS
  • No cuts to Medicare
  • Continuation of the ACA
  • And more of the same old same old

It didn’t matter.

Not a very compelling message, is it? Me too and more of the same…

Lesson #5:

Your call to action (CTA) must be compelling.

Otherwise, nobody will buy.

Clinton’s CTA didn’t exist. Trump’s did. It made people MOVE.

In other words, his audience bought and a lot of Clinton’s (which was bigger) stayed home.



2016 Election, Clinton, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Trump

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