On the eve of the 2016 presidential election, The New York Times put up an election forecast page with polls and infographics detailing how each state was likely to behave during election night. Their conclusion? Hillary Clinton had an 85 percent chance of winning the election, listing a staggering “693 ways to win.”
What actually happened on election night came as a surprise to many: a Brexit-style victory for the right, which begs the question, what went wrong with the Clinton campaign?
Before any of the issues are discussed, we must understand that this election was primarily based on who the candidates were rather than what they stood for. Hillary Clinton’s reputation as a career politician helped fuel Donald J. Trump’s populous rhetoric.
In addition, Clinton failed to connect with voters in “safe states” assuming she had a large lead. The so-called “Blue Wall” in the rust belt ended up proving my point: Secretary Clinton was out of touch with working class Americans.
The Clinton campaign also heavily relied on voters rejecting Trump’s blunt language. Her campaign focused on political correctness, often highlighting the offensive nature of Trump’s comments. This tactic achieved partial success at best; although Clinton won the women’s vote, Donald Trump got a much larger percentage of the vote than the Clinton campaign expected, proving that being politically correct was not enough to win everyone over.
I spoke with Nailin Gonzalez, 19, who is a student attending Florida International University at the Maidique Campus. She supported Trump in the general election and like many Americans, one of the reasons she chose Trump over Clinton was that “he does not go by political correctness, he says what he thinks even if it’s not the most appealing thing for the public to hear.” On the other hand, she saw Clinton as “corrupt” and said it was “really hard to believe anything of what she ever said.”
She added that she was very “pro-protests”, citing that “every citizen should go ahead and practice their right,” but she also felt “disgruntled” with the way some protesters have incited violence and vandalism.
Nailin represents a growing number of young Hispanic Americans who didn’t vote based on how offensive Trump’s comments were but rather embraced his boldness, tilting the crucial Florida electorate in Trump’s favor.
In short, the Clinton campaign allowed Trump to set the rules, and then played by them. This election was never about being anti-establishment or “draining the swamp.” Trump made it this way. Instead of embracing her experience, Clinton tried to paint herself as an outsider because she was a woman, as seen in a CBS interview where she stated “I cannot imagine anyone being more of an outsider than the first woman president.”
The Clinton campaign will serve as a case study for the Democratic Party for decades to come. Connecting with voters and not taking anything for granted will be at the heart of every future presidential campaign.