I have to admit that I am an ardent follower of American politics and business news. Part, because the news channels (CNN, NBC, Fox et al) are exciting to watch; and part because I believe America is the best democracy. India is equally great, I must say.
Coming to the 2016 elections, this was put up as the single most exciting, dramatic, unconventional event in the history of USA. The result was equally intriguing if not unbelievable for a lot of Americans and people around the world. We had a career politician with 30 years of experience in Hillary Clinton, ex Secretary of State, former First Lady, someone who had run for presidential nomination earlier, someone who knew the political system in and out against a billionaire businessman - Donald Trump; was made himself famous through Miss Universe beauty Pageants, was a real estate moghul never shy of media, branded himself as a political outsider, whom some gave no chance to win the nomination of the GOP (Republican party), least be elected to be the President.
So the battle was between 2 different personalities, one being stateswoman - a very strong one and the other a business personality, whom a lot of people had strong opinions about. Here are the reasons for Trump's victory, my opinion -
1) The first is as simple as it gets, the people of America wanted Trump to the President, and voted for him, and so he won. There was lot of talk about elections being rigged, Trump himself talking about it during campaigns. But at the end, it was free and fair and he won the electorate by a large margin. People vote for leaders who listen to them and who promise to take care of their problems. A number of Americans who did not like high premiums for their healthcare, and were affected by unemployment - mostly due to manufacturing jobs being shifted out or strict energy policies of the US believed Trump would be their Messiah. They were correct, and Trump has started well with Ford and Carrier.
2) Trump's messages were simple and easy to understand. His slogans of #MAGA - make america great again #draintheswamp, #lockherup - were easy to understand. Then he used amazing curt insults on opponents to dissuade people to vote for them. "Lying Ted" , "Little Marco", "Weak Jeb", the the famous "Crooked Hillary". Trump is an expert communicator, if you have read his books you'd know that. Hillary Clinton tried calling him "Presumptuous Trump" but it never took off! His policy positions on terrorism, corruption, IRAQ, foreign trade policies were made very clear during his campaign. He attacked Hillary Clinton with all his might, but overall his campaign was built on positivity. On the other hand the Hillary Clinton campaign was all about why Trump would be most unqualified to be President, without clearly articulating what she would do for the people if she gets elected. A number of communication experts, including the creator of Dilbert - Scott Adams, and television commentator Sean Hannity said Trump's message was so simple as to a 4th grader to understand. Hillary had some advantage after the 1st debate, but his performances in the 2nd and 3rd were phenomenal. Especially when he talked about how "Honest Abe" never lied but Hillary kept lying every time; and how he would have a special prosecutor look into her situation (on private server and emails). He was equally harsh on the moderators as well - who to be fair to Trump were quite biased, especially in the 1st and 2nd debate.
3) Trump's campaign manager Kellyane Conway is a pollster (she is the CEO of "The Polling Company") and she said she built the campaign strategy on data with modelled electorate behavior. The Hillary campaign based their strategies thinking the electorate will behave the way they did in the elections held in 2012 which Obama had won, but Trump's campaign believed the electorate will behave more like the state elections held in 2014 which republicans had won. Trump had a huge data analytics team housed in his Trump tower, and he targeted every county, every registered voter. He used Facebook and Twitter to reach out to people with the right messages. He had an advantage of not essentially being politically correct, like his stances on immigration and terrorism were agreed by most people but not essentially "politically correct". He said what people wanted to listen and hence they related to him.
4) The Media played in the hands of Trump, they gave him disproportionate coverage during the primaries, mostly due to his often controversial comments - but slowly in their hate with him, they over did it, especially overplaying the infamous "Hollywood Access"clip where he said not so kind words about his views on women - he said them when the mics were off; but these were stealthily recorded and later released to affect his campaign. A week or so before the election day, the Media kept playing to a different narrative as to how Trump could never win citing all the polls that showed him behind Hillary. This would have dissuaded some Hillary supporters to come out and vote for her, erroneously thinking she'd win any way. I think except for Fox news, all other Media outlets, had "Egg" on their faces the moment he won! There is an exciting video on their reactions in Youtube and it's a fun watch. Especially the New York Times - who changed their predictions favoring a Trump's victory only while the counting was on. Trump was always in news every day - in all papers and news channels - and he saved lot of campaign budget which was diverted to the ground game in the states. I am not saying all publicity was good for him, but they were better than none, and did have an impact at the end.
5) Last but not least, there were certain things that went against Hillary during the campaign, the most important being the release of hacked emails of John Podesta - her campaign chair by Wikileaks. A lot of not so good things came out of these - starting with how she won the primaries, then her emails, about funds to the foundation and so on. Wikileaks kept releasing emails until the day of election. Additionally, there were 2 letters released by the Director of FBI during the week before the election referring she might be indicted for having a private server as secretary of state, but later withdrawing it. Trump and his campaign used these to unite the Republican party behind him (who were not behind him completely due to his controversies, insults and "Hollywood Access" tape until then). The party came together during the last weeks, and he campaigned very hard, doing 5-6 stops daily in different places before thousands of supporters. The last minute push definitely gave him 10-15% more votes in key swing states which he won decisively.
This said, I do want to laud the Times of India, especially the App for an amazing coverage of the results. They were heavily biased against in covering the campaign though - partly due to the influence of their Media friends in the US :-) Nevertheless, the entire episode was once in lifetime experience, that I thoroughly enjoyed. Leaving for comments, in the words if "President Elect Donald Trump"
"Aab Ki Buaar Trumppppp Surkaaarrrrrrrrrr"