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Making Sense of Donald Trump (part 2)

So to understand the context in which Donald Trump is operating it helps to look at a few broader trends, as well as the election itself. It is fair to say the results of the 2016 presidential election surprised an awful lot of people. Trump had only an estimated 15% chance of winning, and so a lot of people who don’t understand statistics felt that there was no way he could win. And indeed, he had a very narrow path to victory, but things lined up just as he (or more likely his closest advisers) had hoped. And he squeaked out an electoral victory, though he lost the popular vote substantially. So what does this tell us about the country that elected him? The first thing I would point out is that the country the day after the election was not substantially any different from the country the day before the election. That is, Donald Trump’s ascendancy is not an indication of a sudden and dramatic change in the public attitudes or general culture of United States of America. The very same country that was overwhelmingly likely to elect Hillary Clinton did in fact allow Donald Trump to become president. But this is not because the country as a whole shifted very much. Rather, it is a result of quirks in the US electoral process, as well as overlooked shifts in very specific parts of the country that would just enough to tip the overall election. I will look at these specific short-term shifts in the next post, and then at longer-term shifts in future posts.

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