This is the story of how Clinton, the woman with everything, spectacularly lost it all. And how the underdog prevailed, because he listened to the people
Donald Trump was surrounded by family and campaign staff at the Hilton Midtown hotel as he received news of the result, which was to propel him to the White House.
The crucial battleground state of Florida had been declared for the businessman; soon to become the first American President without any political experience. Against all odds, Donald Trump had gained an insurmountable lead of 119,770 votes in the state: something that was met with both elation and shock. Susie Wiles, Donald Trump’s Florida campaign manager sent a text message that read: ‘I am so proud of this team! MAGA!’ (Make America Great Again).
It was around 12:30 a.m. when Hillary Clinton realized her hopes of becoming America’s first female president were over. They had expected success in Florida, on the back of a large turnout in the Hispanic vote. The experienced politician’s team, quickly became tense. The mood in the campaign turned dark. Messages and calls from reporters were met with a
cold silence from dis-respondent aides and campaign staff. This was not what they had expected.
Meanwhile, the world inhaled a large breath, as it realized that tomorrow a new America would be born; run by a man, no one had ever predicted to be leading the Free World.
Just a few hours earlier, Hillary Clinton’s aides were sat in a suite at The Peninsula Hotel in New York, working on her victory speech. This was planned to be delivered at the Jacob Javits Convention Center — a building encased by the largest glass ceiling in Manhattan — where she hoped to stand on an illuminated map of America in front of thousands of cheering supporters, announcing her hopes to unite the country. Just an hour earlier Hillary arrived in a ‘joyous’ and ‘expectant’ mood, waiting to finally accomplish her dreams and ‘break that infamous glass ceiling’ as the first woman in charge of the White House.
It was back in early October, while Hurricane Matthew battled the state of Florida, that Republicans began to voice concerns. After a shake-up in the Republican team in Florida, leaving new people in charge, campaign staff realised that they had not run an effective absentee ballot program.
After a meeting at Trump’s National Doral golf club, campaign staff persuaded him to spend more on paid callers to reach out to Republican absentee voters and to fund more campaign mail and advertising. Trump pledged to spend more on Florida.
However, this did not prevent a clear divide from emerging in the way the Republicans and Democrats were campaigning. Helped by big donors and a supportive democratic ‘establishment’, Clinton was outspending Trump in Florida. It seems though that the knowledge Trump had of the state (his second home is located in Palm Beach), helped fill the spending gaps. He believed from the outset that campaigns spent too much on ‘ground operations’ and so focused more on his emotive, media grabbing.
Throughout the election race he received much more media attention than Clinton owing to the following: his outlandish statements; his controversial and entertaining speeches, aiming to energise his core support; the fact that he travelled across the state, resultantly reaching far more voters than Clinton. In contrast, Clinton attempted to replicate Obama’s get-out-the-vote programme which helped bring out his core black vote and led to two victories. However, it became clear to the Democrats that this was not working. Clinton did not present the refreshing anti-establishment look that Obama did eight years ago — her past could not energise voters.
Even Bill Clinton, himself from poor white roots, was reportedly concerned about this. According to the Sunday Times, he voiced qualms about not reaching out to enough white working-class voters. Hillary Clinton’s senior aides however, told him that white working-class voters were no longer the target voters; instead, the Democrats had a new electoral map where they focused on Hispanics and the Black vote. This carelessness with the white working-class vote because of an establishment-run campaigning ignorance of ‘real people’, came back to haunt the Democrats on the 8th.
Despite all this, buoyed by early voting statistics and reports of record turnouts from Black and Hispanic voters, Clinton’s campaign was confident of a victory in Florida.
As election day came though, so did a new force of voters. A new group, some of whom were casting their very first ballot, turned out to vote — the white working-class were ready to speak.
About 1 p.m. on Tuesday the 8th of November, one source within Clinton’s campaign said the Democrats were worried. Republicans were crushing the vote in the Florida Panhandle and within smaller conservative-leaning counties.
However, ‘by 5 p.m., our voters showed again’, the source, not authorized to speak by the campaign, said: ‘We felt pretty good’.
According to POLITICO the size of the vote was historic in populous democratic strongholds like Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
That ‘pretty good’ feeling however, was soon to fall away like the glass-shaped confetti planned for Clinton’s victory announcement.
In Republican areas, the turnout was even higher. By the end of the night, Trump’s lead was so big that even if the turnout in Florida stood at 80 per cent — far higher than recent elections — Clinton would still not win even if she beat Trump by double digits.
Hillary Clinton was successful in urban areas populated by prosperity and wealth, the kind of people America now associates with an establishment class. These urban areas where Clinton garnered support included: Palm Beach County and Orange County, where she won 60.4 per cent of the vote — but this was not enough.
Clinton’s lead did not stretch further than these opulent places. Around urban areas, Trump stacked up large leads in rural counties such as Santa Rosa County, where the Republicans won 74.5 per cent of the vote. Why? Simply because of a large white turnout and not enough Hispanics voting for Clinton. The confidence with which the Democrats cried that women and Latino voters would side with Clitnon, was soon violently destroyed as some exit polls put the Hispanic vote at 30 for Trump and women at 40 per cent.
‘The difference here is that Trump did far better than Mitt Romney did in almost every county on Election Day’, Fabrizio told POLITICO. And it was the high white working-class turnout on election day that began the downfall of Clinton’s dreams and cemented her defeat in Florida.
As the votes came in, Democrats mused over how Trump was to lose the White House because of such a large Hispanic vote — obliviously underestimating the power of white working-class voters.
At 4.30 a.m. (UK time), SHOUT OUT UK reported that Florida was to be won by Donald Trump. It was a result which defied the polls, the pundits, and history — you could say it was in true ‘Donald Style’.
Clinton managed to hold onto and even increase the vote in high prosperity areas, compared with 2012. However, 2016 was to be different. It was an election where the powerful suddenly became limp and the neglected white working class gained momentum and made history.
Shortly before 3 a.m., Clinton called Donald Trump and in a short but polite conversation congratulated him on the result, conceding defeat. It has been reported that Clinton said ‘Congratulations Donald, well done’. And Trump, in a manner different from his anti-Clinton campaign rhetoric, replied: ‘you’re a smart, tough lady and you ran a great campaign’.
Hillary Clinton’s dreams were over. Donald Trump could barley believe what had just unfolded. A few hours earlier, the Democrats were preparing their victory speech. Now, it was President-elect Donald Trump announcing victory and Hillary Clinton looking for answers. The two moods could not be more different.
There was one mutual feeling residing within both campaign groups though, that of dumbfoundedness and shock at the record-high white vote. Both could not believe what had happened.
The 2016 US election was billed as historic, and unprecedented. Like never before, the white working class spoke. They spoke in huge numbers and because of this overpowered the previously powerful voice of the ruling establishment class of America. The neglected became influential, and in Florida this formed the final piece in a jigsaw that was to elect Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America.
What a remarkable story!