By Martin Keen.
The presidential election of 2016 has taught us all two important things:
1.) National pre-election polls can be completely wrong.
2.) In America, even if you are just a multi-billionaire real estate magnate, you too can work hard and achieve your dream of becoming the president of the United States.
On Tuesday, November 8, Donald Trump managed to pull off what could quite possibly be the greatest political upset in United States’ history. By earning 290 electoral votes against Hillary Clinton’s 232 electoral votes¹, Mr. Trump became the nation’s 45th president-elect.
Many political strategists were calling for a substantial win for Clinton. President Obama provided his support on the campaign trail. Her millions of supporters were also hoping to finally put the first woman into the Oval Office. As the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was poised to be the rightful successor to President Obama and continue the course that had been laid out by the Democratic Party. But alas, that was not to be.
On the night of the presidential election, the map of the United States progressed to primarily being covered in red. The mood inside the Clinton camp headquarters changed from the jubilant excitement of an expected victory to a tone of somber and stunned disbelief. Donald Trump had defeated Hillary Clinton and won the presidential election.
The question is: How did he do it?
Trump achieved his amazing accomplishment primarily by setting himself apart from all of the other candidates. Not only did he appear to be different from his political opponents in both the Republican and the Democratic parties, he positioned himself to be the candidate that was unlike any other candidate in recent history. There were many factors that contributed to Trump’s incredible victory. The factors that served him well were those that allowed for him to be seen as unique.
According to reports, the results of the 2016 U.S. elections were greatly influenced by a data analysis model. This particular model was created by Cambridge University student Michal Kosinski eight years earlier. While he was studying for his Ph.D. at Cambridge University, Michal Kosinski explored the idea of applying psychometrics². Psychometrics is a scientific field which focused solely on measuring basic psychological traits from data generated by Facebook users. He further developed a Facebook app, named “MyPersonality”. The MyPersonality app basically served as a questionnaire which utilized questions extracted from a similar psychometric model named “The Big Five”.
¹ CNN.com, http://www.cnn.com/election/results/president
² MichalKosinski.com, http://www.michalkosinski.com/
Users of The MyPersonality app were presented with an option to share their respective Facebook data with Michal Kosinski and his team of researchers. Surprisingly, many of the users actually did share. Within a short time frame, Kosinski had in his possession one of the largest data pools. It was a combination of Facebook profiles and psychometric scores. Thus, making his research an exercise in the unheralded potential of big data.
The resultant effect showed that, for every action on Facebook, a precise deduction was possible. With the collation of more data and time, Kosinski and his team of researchers were able to create a more precise model. By 2012, they were able to predict the ethnic background of a user of the MyPersonality app with a frightening accuracy of 95 percent. They could also predict the political party to which they had affiliations with, averaging 85 percent from a sum of just 68 likes.
After rejecting an offer in 2014 from the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, Strategic Communication Laboratories, Michal Kosinski did not think of it until Cambridge Analytica was contacted to aid the “Leave.Eu” Brexit campaign led by Nigel Farage in the United Kingdom. At that same time, American politics came calling as well. Cambridge Analytica was credited by Ted Cruz for being responsible for his campaign surge. As such, Donald Trump’s team followed suit subsequently.
At the beginning of the election campaign season, Cambridge Analytica came up with a model capable of predicting the personality of virtually every American adult. This particular model had similar features to Kosinski’s earlier method, which he developed in 2008 at Cambridge University.
The big data company purchased data from different sources. The data ranged from the type of magazines which people bought to information about cars and pets. The aggregate data was further used by Cambridge Analytica to create politically-inclined insights, which would be used in sending messages targeted towards specific voters.
However, instead of targeting the whole country, Cambridge Analytica focused only on 17 states. It believed that these states could be contested by Donald Trump. It further separated the population into 32 different types of personalities. With the aid of this framework, Cambridge Analytica was able to make specific deductions. For example, those who preferred American-made cars were more likely to be potential supporters of Donald Trump.
This model had so much precision in helping supporters of Donald Trump with their campaign. It aided them in knowing what homes would be receptive to specific messages. Without any reasonable doubt, this was the main reason why Wisconsin & Michigan were solely focused on by Trump’s team during the last week of his campaign. It’s a strategy that clearly worked well.
When Trump first made his announcement that he would be running for the office of the presidency, he decided that all of his speeches were going to count. He focused on topics and areas that were highly concerning to Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public. He began with his stance against illegal immigration. Securing America’s borders has always been a national issue.
However, other politicians have treaded lightly around this subject. While maintaining an effective security protocol around the country’s borders has always seemed to be a concern, the majority of presidential candidates have skimmed around the topic somewhat lightly. They have not wanted to appear to be off-putting to other countries and the cultures of their citizens. America is, after all, the great melting pot.
But Trump decided to take a markedly different approach to address the topic. He specifically called out the border situation between the United States and Mexico. He professed that there were many factions of illegal immigrants that want to come to this country for the sole purpose of committing severe, felonious crimes. Trump was direct in his approach and right to the point. None of the other candidates would have even dared to speak about the border situation in that manner. Some saw this as Trump’s expression of possible racist views. Many of his opponents actually distanced themselves away from him so that they would not be seen in a negative light.
But actually, this was an incredible, strategic move made by Trump. He stood completely alone by making this stance on national security. Most Americans were not accustomed to a presidential hopeful who spoke in such a direct manner. By doing this, Trump began to lay the groundwork for his self-marketing strategy. He was ensuring that the majority of the attention placed on this year’s presidential election would be focused on him. People were intrigued by his tough talk, and they wanted to know more about his plans. They also wanted to find out what he would say next. From this, Trump was able to build a strong momentum to garner high attendance rates for his rallies. During the debates, he was clearly the standout candidate. Donald Trump ensured that all eyes were focused on him and him alone.
A Man of Action
As a compliment to his stance on the nation’s border security, Trump also professed a radical course of action to keep America safe. He introduced the public to the wall. Trump’s plan to construct a stable barrier between the United States and Mexico was a plan that the other candidates would not have touched. With his plans for building a wall across our borders, Trump wanted to show that he was more than just a political candidate who talks about change. As an internationally known real estate businessman, he has both the knowledge and the experience to create grand structures. He also has a multitude of construction teams at his disposal. Whatever you may think about the man, Trump has the years of experience that proves that he knows how to put up a wall.
Whether or not an actual wall will be constructed on our borders is a matter that we will have to wait to be seen. However by presenting the mere concept of this proposed solution to an area of national security, Trump allowed for himself to be completely different from every other politician. He had become a serious man of action.
Unlike the majority of men and women who run for public office, Donald Trump has never held a political position. He also has never served in any branch of the armed services. In the terms of the Washington, D.C. brass, he was definitely a true outsider. Many political strategists thought that these would be the major factors in preventing Trump from having any chance of winning. In actuality, they helped in making him a viable candidate.
As long as there has been a stable form of government in our country, there has also always been a certain level of dissatisfaction with the government from its citizens. Career politicians have a general stigma of hypocrisy. It has been a common belief that politicians will say whatever they need to say in order to get elected. Once they get elected, then they will just do whatever they want to do.
Since Donald Trump was not a career politician, he was not surrounded by the same stigma of hypocrisy as his opponents. While someone else in his position may have felt intimidated by going up against experienced candidates, Trump saw this as his golden opportunity. His campaign was based on the foundation of infusing new blood into Washington. By doing so, he would be able to bring about important and real changes to the country. He turned a possible negative situation into a strong, positive force. He was the ultimate outsider.
Donald Trump beat the odds and became the next president of the United States. He used his business experience, his strong words, and his belief in himself to stand alone and win. Just like Frank Sinatra, Donald Trump did it his way.