6 Reasons Why Donald Trump Is Not ‘Just Like Brexit’

There are two main reasons cited. The media increasingly calling the result for, and is more favourable to, Remain/Clinton in the weeks before the vote, and ‘Brexit’/Trump has played to anti-Establishment populism that pollsters and pundits haven’t grasped.

Plenty of commentators will point to the similarities. But if you look at both in a little detail, stark differences also emerge between the conditions that led to the UK’s breakaway from Europe and Trump potentially moving in to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  

1. ‘Brexit’ was a slick, professional campaign. Trump’s a bad campaigner.

Sure, rival Leave and Remain campaigns exchanged insults during a flotilla battle on the Thames. But scenes worthy of ‘Carry On … Brexit’ mask a thoroughly professional operation run by the official Vote Leave campaign.

A strong, simple message – ‘Vote Leave, Take Control’ – was strapped to a traditional campaign strategy based on fundamentals that catapulted both Bill Clinton and Tony Blair to power, and executed with brutal efficiency. It’s spelled out in a compelling account by Vote Leave’s Tom Waterhouse on how they won the ground and air wars.

Trump’s campaign couldn’t be much more different.

He’s on his third campaign manager, has a fondness for tweeting erroneously at 3am about an ex-Miss Universe’s sex video, and has halted his campaign to promote his hotels. Trump was even reluctant to prepare for the TV debates – disastrous since gaffes have seen his poll rating plummet. 

Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ refrain – focusing on the economy and immigration – is bumper sticker-friendly. But the candidate has a habit of going off piste, mocking a disabled reporter, suggesting admiration for Vladimir Putin and indulging many other distractions from vote-winning messages.

A lack of message discipline may be connected to his closest advisers being members of his family, notably son-in-law Jared Kushner, who have little experience of running a campaign.

By contrast, Vote Leave’s origins stem from winning a referendum in the North East of England in 2004, with ‘Brexit’ chief strategist Dominic Cummings instrumental in sinking Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott’s hopes of elected ‘regional assemblies’. Obscure, long-forgotten, but they knew how to do it.

2. ‘Brexit’ polls changed constantly. Trump has been behind for much longer.

Polling is what most who subscribe to the Trump-’Brexit’ principle seize upon. The thinking goes that the polls failed to correctly predict the referendum result, adding to the industry’s sorrow after getting the 2015 General Election wrong.

In common with most (but not all) surveys in the final week of the campaign, the last YouGov poll published after voting ended suggested a 4-point Remain victory was on the cards. Farage even appeared to concede. Hence the ‘shock’ outcome.

A look back suggests the polls actually swung back and forth. The Financial Times poll tracker, which stretches back to 2010 when Leave had a 14-point lead, suggests as much. This was the last month.

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