“In America now only normal people can see the obvious. Everyone else is lost in a data-filled fog.”

Time to stop hyperventilating about the legitimate result of the US election and look at some interesting figures.

I remember chatting with an American friend, about Hillary’s bid for the White House in 2008 and saying as an aside that if she didn’t get Hillary this time, she would have to put up with her in 2016. She said then that Hillary would never get to the White House.

I’ll admit, even then I didn’t quite believe her such is the mystique the Clintons are capable of casting across the Atlantic. I felt certain when the Republicans chose Donald Trump that my friend’s prediction was in grave jeopardy.

But RW Johnson makes clear (as did I) in his piece for the London Review of Books, the truth is that the US system favours whatever party has not had the White House for the previous eight years. Obama’s approval ratings are healthy, but not enough to bring Hillary over the line.

…this year was always meant to have been a Republican year. If you looked at the postwar presidencies that ran across two terms, and then at who won the mid-terms in the sixth year, you would have been able to predict the presidential result two years later in all but one or two cases. In 2014 the GOP heavily defeated the Democrats, gaining nine Senate seats, thus giving them a clear majority in both houses.

On that basis alone any Republican should have won this year. If you add in the fact that the GOP went into this election holding the governership in 31 of the fifty states – a powerful fact once the state administration is effectively put behind the governor’s party – 2016 should have been a shoo-in for a Mitt Romney or a John McCain, especially against such an unpopular candidate as Hillary Clinton.

As for cause, the profound restructuring (and emasculation of unions) of the Labour market is up there:

Between 1948 and 1973, productivity rose by 96.7 per cent and real wages by 91.3 per cent, almost exactly in step. Those were the days of plentiful hard-hat jobs in steel and the auto industry when workers could afford to send their children to college and see them rise into the middle class. But from 1973 to 2015 – the era of globalisation, when many of those jobs vanished abroad – productivity rose 73.4 per cent while wages rose by only 11.1 per cent.

Trump argued that this was caused by unrestricted illegal immigration and the off-shoring of jobs, though these were only partial causes: the erosion of trade unions probably accounts for 25 to 30 per cent of the net loss in earning power. The 11 million unauthorised immigrants in the US form only part of the vast mass of non-unionised labour competing for jobs.

And then this…

…it was masked for some time by more women going out to work, creating two-income households, and later by many workers taking two or three jobs. Sooner or later the stress of such a downward spiral had to be felt and the results are more and more visible. Drive across America and you will notice who operates the pumps at the gas stations.

Over and over again it is white men and women in their seventies, pensioners eking out a few more dollars. Such people were unlikely to be impressed by the parade of celebrities at Hillary Clinton’s rallies – Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Bruce Springsteen etc. The French use the expression ‘la richesse insultante’.

What does it mean for someone on social security to walk past shops with watches or shoes or dresses marked in the thousands of dollars? Each price ticket says: ‘You’re just nothing, you’re a loser.’


…the worst paid 10 per cent saw the biggest drop in wages between 1979 and 2013. At the same time, employers have slashed health benefits. In 2011, only 50 per cent of high school graduates – the peculiar America-speak for those who didn’t have a higher education or enter the middle class – got them (down from 67 per cent in 2000) and only 76 per cent of college graduates, down from 84 per cent.

The exasperation goes deep…

On average in 1965 an American CEO earned 20 times what a worker did. By 2013, on average, the number was 296 times. Marx foresaw ever greater concentrations of capital accompanied by the pauperisation of the working class. But the result has been the opposite of what Marx predicted: the rise of right-wing demagoguery. The elemental nature of this working and middle-class revolt explains why much of Trump’s support was impervious to his crass behaviour and his wish to give offence.

This too is interesting…

Trump then did something quite remarkable. He ignored most of the rules of the game. He didn’t prepare for the presidential debates, which Clinton easily won. He spent more on ‘Make America Great Again’ baseball caps than he did on opinion polls. And nowhere did he have a ground organisation comparable to Clinton’s to get out the vote. Overall he spent only half as much as Clinton and depended instead on projecting his campaign as a crusade, a ‘movement’. Like all successful populists, Trump promised to bring back yesterday.

Sanders? Nah, try Joe Biden..

…while it would have caused a Democrat civil war, given the ‘entitled’ Clinton bandwagon, Obama probably missed a trick by discouraging Joe Biden from running. Biden has always had a good rapport with working-class voters and would probably have beaten Trump by a clear margin. Clinton’s best chance was in 2008 and she would have done better to call it a day after that.


…this election was more about class than any election since the New Deal. The Fox News polls show the gathering landslide among white men with only high school education. With two weeks to go they favoured Trump by 48 to 32 (+16), with one week to go by 53 to 32 (+21) and on election day by 61 to 20, a crushing 41-point margin which swung the Rust Belt states to Trump.

Interestingly, white women with only high school education favoured Trump by 58 to 31 with one week to go, but moved in Clinton’s favour in the last week, ending up 53-32 on election day (though this was not so much a move to Clinton as a move away from Trump). Nonetheless, their class position outweighed their gender.

He finishes with a quote from a great column from Peggy Noonan, who defined Trump’s movement as ‘an uprising of the unprotected’. She also had another even more acute observation (that we should take to heart much closer to home):

On the way home Wednesday morning I thought of my friend who runs the neighborhood shoe-repair shop. He is elderly, Italian-American, an immigrant. I had asked him last winter who would win the Republican nomination and he looked at me as if I were teasing. “Troomp!” he instructed. I realized at that moment: In America now only normal people can see the obvious. Everyone else is lost in a data-filled fog.


  • Megatron

    presume working class blacks and latinos don’t have these problems.

    Sorry but I’m completely dismissing explanations which don’t address the racism (overt or covert) behind the success of Trump.

  • eamoncorbett

    If you really want to know why Trump won , Hilary Anderson did an excellent programme from Texas last night in which a white man from an ex steel town explained that Trump would resurrect all the steelworkers jobs in Texas once the ban on cheap stuff from China was enforced . You can call it naive or stupid but you really can connect to a huge swaithe of people by just telling them what they want to hear , be it lies or just plain bull.

  • Michael Smith

    You’re going to believe what you want to believe. I would suggest that the largest demographic for Trump was people who perform actual work for a living.

  • Oggins

    Good read Mick

  • Zorin001

    But the racism, sexism and white nationalism is the elephant in the room and can’t be ignored.

    If Trump had been running on his economic platform solely (what he actually has of one that is) then I would have been happy to vote for him. I don’t think he can achieve what he says, or if he even believes it, but it’s s noble goal.

    But you can’t detach that from the hard right social agenda he is likely to run with; a look at his appointments so far (Breibart for Gods sake) are just the start.

  • hgreen

    No doubt many people voted for him for racist reasons. But racism isn’t the main reason why he won. Trump got less votes than Romney. Simply, voters weren’t energised enough by Clinton to go out and vote for her.

  • Declan Doyle

    Excellent post Mick.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Because they, like everyone else, want a President focused on providing them jobs and a better future. You still don’t get that the propaganda of calling someone racist 24/7, only fools the less intelligent these days? ????

  • Sir Rantsalot

    The racism is addressed by exposing that the hurling of these labels is simply propaganda. Look at the facts, millions more blacks and Latinos voted for Trump than any other Republican. If you can’t figure out that hurling isms is propaganda, then no one can help you! ????

  • Croiteir

    It is very simple, people did what they normally do, vote for what they think is ultimately in their best interests, if you see your living standards and the prospects for you children declining over the years why would you vote for more of the same?

    Now you can put whatever label you want to distract from realising that is what is happening here, call the voters xenophobic, misogynist, racist or whatever, but that is not addressing the issue.

  • John Collins

    There is ultimately no big deal. Only once since 1948 ,has the same party retained the White House for twelve years in a row.

  • babyface finlayson

    “this year was always meant to have been a Republican year.”
    “On that basis alone any Republican should have won this year.”
    “Biden has always had a good rapport with working-class voters and would probably have beaten Trump by a clear margin.”
    This seems contradictory to me.

  • Philip Herron

    Trump won because the left failed to debate any points. National debts of countries are eye watering. DNC robbed Bernie Sanders of the chance to run. 25/% of the whole campaign was funded by Saudi Arabia which executes homosexuality. Hillary was funded by 9/10 biggest arm’s manufacturers and Hillary wanted to Nuke Iran, no-fly zone over syria execpt for the us aircraft this is how they killed gadaffi in libya and Hillary is famous for laughing and smiling that he was sodomized with knives while still alive…

    The deomcrats (Obama) followed Bush big push in the middle-east. Trump was the only candidate not interested in foreign wars.

    Being pro brexit and turmp != Racist… seriously this needs to stop. And no Trump != Hitler. This is the extend of how far the left could debate as part of remain and trump.

    Another aspect of this which in my opinion is scary. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-37979979

    Trump brining jobs home exposing how much we depent on outside business’s and corporations instead of investing in ourselves. Never mind how much of our own Tax payer money subsidies many of these salaries.

    I personally dont feel confident on relying on other countires for my job since this can always be a factor when we are dependant on it. Why can’t we take risks investing in our own inventors or new ideas more easily with grants and not loans, Instead of subsidising these jobs which have been fleeting at best alot of the time.

  • lizmcneill

    What’s so disgusting about wanting investment in NI? Would you rather tax payers’ money went to support those IT workers on the dole instead?

    And when neo-Nazi groups are rejoicing at a Trump appointment, you don’t think it’s fair to say the Trump administration might be just a leeeetle racist?

  • Philip Herron

    So following your logic, Trump is bad because he wants to bring jobs back to America which might include taking jobs away from NI? So we are more important the the American People? Thats up to you if your believe that i don’t.

    I believe we have more than enough ability in our country to fix things. But people need to learn how the free market works. State funding destroys purchasing power of everyone’s money.

    Re Racsism: You should do a little more research than simply regurgating BBC/Guardian article titles by Social Justice Warriors.

  • lizmcneill

    So if the free market is good, why is American companies offshoring software jobs because it’s cheaper overseas bad? You’re contradicting yourself.

    I don’t know why you think that I need the BBC to tell me that a guy who runs a white nationalist website is a white nationalist.

  • Philip Herron

    So the free market is bad in your eyes. So should we look at how the USSR ran? Or should be look at China? North Korea?

    Or maybe because Brexit happened we must all not pay attention to votes because obiviously people don’t know whats good for them. The problem with this is if you only trust “experienced politician” whats the difference in that and communism where the same politicians are in all the time wasting the same money starting the same wars..

    Foreign investment is good but thats investment. Think about jobs. Foreign jobs come into Northern Ireland and Invest NI pays for all salaries for years and working costs of starting in belfast. Which is amazing. But what happens like in the same year over 6 different foreign investment companies left after only being here 6 months. What does that say about the system. What does that say about our taxes.

    So we pay taxes to then employee other people. But look at the ballymena cigarette factory closure. The factory was making X the demand for X has decreased to a level which makes that factory unsustainable in the free market. So should we pay taxes to keep people employeed? Should we bail out banks which has consolidated banking down to a fraction of what it used to be?

    Do you think we should live in a world of no competition and the State gives us our dole, health care everything? Are you going to marry the state? Why are you so happy about the state in Northern Ireland?

    Re Racisim.. love how you post no evidence. Expertly done. 😀

  • lizmcneill

    Trump’s policies, in so far as he has any that he sticks to for five minutes, aren’t the free market rules all. Protectionism is not free market. The border wall, if it gets built/started, is going to be a boondoggle project like something from the USSR. And an unfettered free market is bad unless you think dying or going bankrupt when you lose your job or get seriously ill is ok.

    Whoever InvestNI invests in, a lot of the companies are going to fail. With FDI, some big company like AllState is going to be able to last through the struggles of the NI economy and that’s what they probably hoped one of the 6 would turn out to be.

    One of Breitbart’s former employees said it’s a white supremacist site: http://www.dailywire.com/news/8441/i-know-trumps-new-campaign-chairman-steve-bannon-ben-shapiro