US Presidential Election 2016

In terms of election materials, we could see that the Democrat’s leaflets and flyers were not as glossy as that of Trump’s. Importantly, Hillary had no signs up, bar a couple outside the Staging Office, whilst Trump had a barrage of ‘TRUMP PENCE’ signs up all over one of the local polling station (which was curiously a Baptist Church, which may alienate atheists and those of other faiths). This was targeted, efficient and bullish, although potentially pushing the boundaries of electoral rules (since you should not promote a candidate within 50m of a polling station, and these signs were on its lawn). Another worrying fact, was on top of voters having to queue for hours on end on polling day (voters are not allowed to vote if they are not in the queue at 7pm, which has previously meant that many were not able to vote); we heard from one voter, that he had been to vote early three times and had not gotten the chance to vote. From what we could see there were far too many areas which had been assigned only one polling station.

The third turning point was attending the Obama Rally in Kissimmee two days ahead of the election. Although the spectacle of the event was incomparable to any political event I’ve seen in the UK, there was a lack of a sense of hope and optimism, and Obama himself appeared tired after 8 years in office, and spoke his past achievements and the need to elect Hillary to continue his past legacy, rather than to offer something new. There was also no sight of Hillary in Central Florida, who went to Miami a few days before the election, a Democrat stronghold in the State. Meanwhile, Trump offered change, and was darting around the country, staging rallies in New Hampshire and Michigan on the same night, only a couple of days before the election, challenging contested and marginal seats, rather than sticking to safer areas.

Election Night
On the election night it was clear to see early on that we had lost Florida, and many of the ‘rust belt’ States, which were traditionally Democratic strongholds, had gone red for the first time in decades. Although we had won Orange County at 60.4% of the vote, the majority of the more rural areas of the State had turned Red. The shock and fallout after the election showed that many just could not anticipate the result, and had not been able to comprehend the result. It reminded me of the Brexit result, which unfortunately was not a surprise to most of us in the Delegation (also Labour Party members, who had campaigned for the Brexit Vote), but which took the UK largely unawares, as did the US Presidential election. I’d go as far to say I think this is the key factor in the outcome of the US presidential election. It looked like either complacency or denial to not have campaigned harder earlier on in the election, with many, at home at least, finding the idea of Trump as president no more than a laughable impossibility, rather than a dangerous economic and political threat.

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