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America makes the world stand still, again

11.11.16

With bated breath we awaited the results of the 2016 US presidential election. The presidential campaign seemed to hold more substance than ever before as the future 45th president would need to fill the very large boots, which Obama left behind. As the early hours passed by – 4am, 5am, 6am and still no outright result – it was the closest and most intense campaign to date.

The announcement of the 45th president of the United States of America

At 7.35am it was announced that Donald Trump would be the 45th president of the United States with Hillary Clinton conceding after a long-fought campaign. Naturally, this caused social media to go into a frenzy, some celebrating the victory of Mr Trump and others, well others were not so happy about the result, announcing it as WW3 in the making. But political opinion aside, how did this outsider with no previous political experience get the most important job in the world?

The campaigns

It is reported an estimated $6.8 billion was spent on the US presidential election with Trump funding the majority of his campaign solely from his own $3.8 billion net worth. However, Trump spent considerably less on paid advertising than experts expected, and instead benefitted from a whole host of free press. There’s no denying that Trump caused a lot of friction across the media through his outlandish comments about minorities, women and Mrs Clinton – and nobody will ever forget that Mexican Wall comment. Social media fuelled Trump’s campaign with his name trending across the Twittersphere for months leading into the election. So, is there any such thing as bad press? Certainly not for Mr Trump, with his views seemingly sending him straight to the White House.

For Hillary Clinton, bad media could have been a contributing factor as to why too few Americans voted for her, with her campaign being constantly overshadowed by an F.B.I investigation into her emails. Hillary’s campaign was strong in the beginning, detailing how she was the candidate with the most political experience and how she could unite America with the message of ‘Stronger Together’ taking shape in response to Trump. However, the campaign soon turned into a mud slinging match and, along with the email debacle, Clinton’s message was quickly lost among potential voters despite support from celebrity endorsements and the #I’mWithHer campaign. Unfortunately, despite all efforts and support, the #LoveTrumpsHate campaign failed to get off the ground and strike a cord with enough voters. Far fewer minorities backed the Democratic Party this time than in previous elections, although women were overwhelmingly on Hillary’s side.

The polls

Polls had been tight with no runaway winner being confirmed, reminiscent of the Brexit vote five months previously. However, 24-hours before the result was declared, Mrs Clinton was seen to be the leading candidate with an 85% chance of being the next president, causing women across the globe to hold out hope that a woman could be in the oval office for the first time in history. So, why did the polls on pre-election day get it so wrong? Put simply, the poll predictions lay solely on social science rather than any statistical evidence. Due to this, pollsters could never really be sure of who was going to win with voters either keeping their cards close to their chest, changing their mind in the polling stations or simply outright lying about who they would vote for. By taking these polls as fact instead of listening to the public, a false prophecy for Clinton’s win was created.

Like the political polls, public relations is a listening exercise, making two-way communications between the organisation and the audience essential. Could the vote have gone the other way if Mrs Clinton spent more time listening to the concerns of the American public rather than focusing on celebrity endorsements? Who knows? Now the world waits to see what President Trump’s first move will be as the most powerful man in the world.

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