How Donald Trump Won
Donald Trump won the presidential election by being Donald Trump and by understanding where to get votes. I knew he had won the election a few days before November 8th, before over half the country had voted. It came as a surprise, but I had no doubt about the conclusion I reached.
I get Google alerts, mostly about places I have lived and where I still have some interest. I get Google alerts about my favorite college basketball team, the Carolina Tar Heels. Since the small town of Kinston, North Carolina seems to be a great provider of outstanding basketball players for my favorite team, I get Google alerts about Kinston, NC.
One morning I opened my Google alerts to see that then presidential candidate Donald Trump had stopped in Kinston, North Carolina to put in an appearance. So what? That’s what you may be thinking, but that was the key to his winning the election.
Kinston is a small town, population somewhere around 21,000 the last time I checked. The population has been in a slow decline since 1990. The town was once a thriving little town when tobacco was king, surrounded by prosperous tobacco farmers. Well, tobacco has been all but outlawed, farmers are struggling to survive, businesses have closed, and just about the only things that are outstanding about the town now is a PBS television program about a chef who moved back home to Kinston and opened a restaurant and the outstanding basketball players it produces for UNC. Well, that says a lot for a small town.
But, Donald Trump obviously understood the demographics. Farmers in that area have lost their incomes from tobacco farming. Industry in that area has suffered as a result. Sure, you can say the farmers can raise other crops just as you can say that factory workers in Ohio or Michigan can get other jobs. But, it really isn’t that easy. These people, some of whom are my family, have grown tobacco for generations, and yes, they are now growing other crops. They are getting by but most are not thriving as they were when tobacco was king. Before the hackles are raised on the backs of necks, let me say that I am not condoning the use of tobacco. I am only stating the reality of this small town and many small towns just like it.
So, Donald Trump stops by and reminds the once successful farmer, a pillar of the community, that thanks to governmental regulations he is struggling to get by or has been forced to sell the family farm. Trump promises to make America great again and that means his world hypothetically will be great again.
That’s what Mr. Trump did in small rural communities and closed down factory towns across the country. Sure, the media showed him at large rallies in big towns. I guess those small stops were too insignificant for the media to mention. But, those small rural communities and dilapidated factory towns are where the winning votes came from, the white non-college educated men (and women) who have worked hard all their lives, provided well for their families, lived in relative comfort, and held their heads high for doing an honest day of labor, day after day after day.
I know these people. I grew up among them, in communities just like Kinston, NC, where a man could hold his head high at the end of the day and sleep at night knowing his labor would be rewarded. As far as the non-college educated category goes, and I have noticed some pollsters and pundits seeming (at least to me) to indicate that these people are ignorant. Well, let me just say that I would challenge any college educated person to have the intellect and stamina to get up before dawn each and every morning, not just five mornings a week, feed the livestock, plow a field, keep the books, run the HR department, plan his own retirement, pay 100% of his own insurance, and so on.
For those who have lost factory jobs, Trump railed against bad trade agreements.
The point is that Donald Trump courted these voters, the non-college educated men and women of rural America and closed factory towns, who once were proud of the jobs they did and would like nothing more than to make their part of America great again. That does not mean they want to go back in time or to live in the past. They just do not want to be forgotten. And, the Democrats have forgotten them or at least neglected them.
Mr. Trump found his voters early and stayed with them. He knew what they wanted to hear and he said it. He knew what they wanted to say and he spoke for them.