Last November, the whole world was surprised when Donald J. Trump won the American presidential election in a victory that defied the polls. I've been thinking about this every so often since it happened, and pondering the circumstances that led to the victory that has the possibility to turn the current party system on it's head, and I think I've figured out the factors leading up to it.
Now, this isn't going to be some circlejerky "Americans saw the light/are racist pricks" nonsense, this is just my theory on the victory based on my own observations, and is completely unrelated to my own views on the topic.
So, first thing to address isn't Trump himself, but his opponent. Like Trump, Hillary Clinton proved to be a very divisive, controversial candidate. Clinton was already distrusted by a large amount of people in both the Republican and Democrat camps due to the Email scandal and accusations of war profiteering, and this, I think, is the major factor leading to the rise of Clinton's Democratic opponent, the bizzaro world version of Trump, senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont.
Clinton was no newcomer to the world of politics, she had campaigned in the 2008 Democratic primary against Barack Obama, and served as his secretary of state. Not to mention being First Lady for 8 years. Sanders on the other hand was a bit of a dark horse, thrusting himself onto the national stage with Clinton's popularity nowhere near what it was in 2008. Sanders was incredibly popular, especially among younger voters, and many people, myself included, expected him to sweep the primaries. But he didn't.
Sanders being denied the Democratic nomination seriously alienated a lot of liberal voters, some even accusing the Clinton campaign of rigging the primaries to keep Sanders away from the white house. Sanders was much, much less controversial than Clinton, and for a lot of Democrats, they just couldn't see themselves supporting her, party loyalty be damned. So, many people who would have voted Democratic in November found themselves (usually reluctantly) flocking to other candidates, including Trump, adding to his already large support base.
The next nail in the Clinton coffin was her campaign. Her PR stuck a lot of people as being pandering, dishonest, and off-putting, in a stark contrast to Trump's loud, determined, and flashy rhetoric. Clinton's PR team turned her campaign into a joke for a lot of people, and I think that with every cringe-inducing attempt to appeal to youth voters, Clinton lost herself a handful of potential supporters.
Finally, I think that another reason Clinton failed was simply due to timing. The Democrats had been in power for 8 years, and the left was strong in America, and many conservatives and centrists were simply sick of it, and this dissatisfaction with that side of the spectrum was only worsened by the rise of the alt-left, which became a very loud minority of the left influential in some areas of society such as academia and media. in turn, this led to the equally radical counterculture of the alt-right, which strengthened Trump's support base, whereas the alt-left failed to do the same for Hillary, as many abandoned the Democratic camp after Sanders lost, or were never in it to begin with.
Now, on to Trump. In addition to his good campaigning skills and a growing support base from the alt-right, dissatisfied centrists and conservatives, and democratic deserters, I believe that the key to his victory was in a very important but very overlooked part of his platform.
If you were paying attention on election night, you know that Pennsylvania, which hadn't voted GOP since Reagan, sealed Hillary's fate and brought Trump to the top (you could say it was his Trump Card). In addition to Pennsylvania, he also won Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, giving him 75 electoral votes together, just less than a quarter of his total. All pf these states, save for Indiana, voted Obama twice, so why the sudden switch to the GOP? One word: Jobs.
All of these states are in the Rust Belt, an area that has been struggling with poverty and unemployment after outsourcing caused the once-industrial powerhouse of a region to shut down their factories and lay off their work forces, and Trump promised to reverse this, wanting to bring jobs back from China to reinvigorate America's economy, which no doubt appealed to the impoverished Rust Belters, especially those who remembered more prosperous times.
So, that's my theory as to why Trump won. I have to say, I was just as surprised on election night as everyone else, but looking back on it now, after thinking on all the things i discussed here, it makes a lot of sense.