My research question is, why did Donald Trump win the 2016 American presidential election? The results of this election left countless Americans shocked, being that he was one of the most condemned Presidential candidates there ever was. Many Americans wondered how Donald Trump won the election, which led to many different studies and analyzations of the 2016 election results and contributing factors. Many disapproved of Trump’s approach to certain nationwide issues and his ideas for resolving them.
Despite Trump’s unpopular opinion, he still managed to persuade voters and gain the title of president. This confuses many, prompting the conversation that the election was ‘rigged’, questioning the election’s outcome and beginning the examination of the polls. While researching these results and reading many different articles about the 2016 election, I learned there were many different contributing factors to Trump’s campaign and campaign strategies, which helped him triumph over his opposing candidate, Hillary Clinton.
While reading through many sources, one theory of Trump’s victory that came up frequently was his use of Twitter. Twitter was designed for users to post daily updates about their lives, however, in the last few years, it developed into a platform for news, business, and glimpses into people’s personal lives. Trump used Twitter to connect with his millions of followers, increase his popularity, and increase followers of his ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign. Trump’s tweets went viral because he controlled his own twitter account, and posted his own brazen opinions which gained the attention of many.
Because Trump’s tweets were so popular, they appeared on TV across a multitude of news broadcasting channels, getting his name and voice out to the public. The intervening variable of this theory would be Donald Trump’s use of Twitter. The dependent variable of this theory would be Trump’s win in the election. The intervening variable would be gaining attention and supporters via his social media posts. The relationship between the independent variable and the dependent variable is that Twitter allowed him to spread his ideas to a large audience instantly and efficiently, provide his followers with insights as to what he would bring to the table as president, and gain supporters through every tweet.
Another relationship between the independent and dependent variable is that Twitter allowed Trump to reach an audience such as young voters, who could be influenced by his tweets and ultimately vote for him, leading to his success. Later on, after the election, data researchers concluded that having a big presence among social media platforms can increasingly benefit the outcome of that election. This conclusion stemmed from the success of Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama, who all used either radio, television, or the internet to promote their presidential campaign to the world. Today, most people think that people are too invested in their phones and social media, however, Donald Trump played that to his advantage because Twitter helped play a big role in his climb to become president.
Another theory that contributed to Trump’s win in the election was his selection of personnel. Trump replaced his first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowsky, with Kellyanne Conway who had experience with Republican campaigns. Kellyanne Conway was valued by Republican establishment because of her experience and success. Since Conway was admired by the Republican establishment, it resolved any issues between Trump and the establishment. Another important staff member of Trump’s team was Steve Bannon who is chief executive. Bannon has a reputation of having unpopular opinions such as supporting anti-immigration and rejecting modern conservatism.
However, Bannon made Trump’s campaign more tempting for the American working class. Another positive influence on Trump’s team, was his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who used social media to the campaign’s advantage and distributed ‘Make America Great Again’ merchandise to promote his father-in-law’s campaign hoping to attract attention and potential supporters. The independent variable of this theory would be Trump’s choice of staff. The dependent variable of this theory would be Trump’s victory. The intervening variable would be how Conway, Bannon, and Kushner helped benefit Trump’s campaign and the outcome of the election.
The independent variable and the dependent variable are related because without a solid campaigning team, Trump’s campaign would ultimately lose the support of his followers and prevent him from gaining new ones, which would negatively affect his outcome in the election. Many people suspected that with having both Conway and Bannon on the same team, Trump’s campaign was doomed to fail, however, Trump made the right decision by adding them both on board, because his campaign was accepted by more people and stronger than ever.
The third and final theory that was prevalent during my research was that Trump and his team came up with successful campaigning strategies that were imperative for his desired outcome of the election. During the final weeks of the election, Trump decided to visit the ‘rustbelt’ of the United States. The rustbelt states consisted of Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Trump’s reasoning behind visiting these four states in the final weeks of campaigning was that these states used to be the center of the U.S Steel Industry prior to the economic changes that caused a major decline in the industry.
Prior to the decline, the areas in these states were known as being populated by wealthy individuals however, since the economic fall in the steel industry and loss of jobs in the area, it is not known as the same prosperous area; therefore, Trump targeted them in hopes of grasping their attention with his statement of creating jobs for the American working class. Most of the states in the rustbelt were apart of Clinton’s ‘firewall’, states who voted Democratic in the last 4 out of 6 elections. Trump had to win at least 2 of those states so he took the chance to win over the rustbelt states from her firewall. The independent variable of this theory would be Trump’s campaigning strategy of visiting the rustbelt states. The dependent variable of this theory would be Trump getting elected as president. The intervening variable would be persuading and winning states from the rustbelt and from Clinton’s firewall.
The relationship between the independent variable and the dependent variable is by using these strategic campaigning methods to engage and persuade those who are targets of Trump’s message, will lead Trump to attain their support and their vote and contribute to his success in the election. Many media outlets thought Trump’s plan to visit the rustbelt states was going to harm his campaign and he should focus on the states that he knew he could win. However, Trump’s team made the right decision to target the rustbelt states because in the end of the election when the results were in, it is shown that Trump was able to pull one state out of Clinton’s firewall of the rustbelt and won the election.
By researching the possible theories to answer my research question, why did Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election, I was able to better understand the contributing aspects that led to Trump’s victory. It was interesting learning about the strength of social media, the importance of staff, and the reasoning and relevance behind winning ‘firewall’ or ‘rustbelt’ states. Politics is a very controversial topic in America today, and although many did not vote for or support President Trump, it can be positive for their own knowledge to learn the possible reasoning behind Trump’s win when the numbers do not directly tell us.