Five unconventional reasons Donald Trump won

Anyone who was keenly following the 2016 US presidential elections should have known that Trump was going to win the elections. What was not clear was the margin of victory. I said it 6 months ago that Trump was going to be the next POTUS. A few people believed me, a whole lot more dismissed me.

But my conclusion was derived from months of research. I delved into Trump’s books to get to know who he was. I savored content about him. I watched his speeches and dissected them. I drew parallels between him and the opponents during the GOP primaries and during the presidential election.

I removed any bias and judged him entirely based on his strategies. I read articles online about him and I was overwhelmingly convinced that he was going to TRUMP Mrs. Clinton.

And he did.

Many are shocked but more are heartbroken. Well, what his presidency means to the world and the USA isn’t the focus of this article. Today, I want to let you into the lessons I’ve learnt through my research of Donald J. Trump. Did he win this election by chance? No. Then how did he beat Hilary?

Captivating Message

I’ve just asked a few leading journalists in our office who were Hillary Clinton’s enthusiasts to tell me about her slogan. Nobody remembers. What was her rallying call by the way? Stronger together or something like that? It doesn’t matter, the fact is, people don’t remember weak and non-sticky slogans. Elections are about capturing the mind of your audience. It’s about sticking your agenda with the strongest glue in their minds.

Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again is a classic catch phrase. Apart from it being memorable, it resonates with the heart first and then the mind. He focused his appeal at the emotional level where human beings usually get influenced.

His speeches were very simple and full of repetitions. No wonder we remember many of his words. “Fantastic, I tell ya’, ISIS, Mexico, Believe me, build a wall, China” are some of the simple words he repeated to captivate his audience.

In fact, a speech analysis of Trump shows that his message was targeted for 6th graders minds. He obeyed the cardinal rule that while speaking to an audience, repeat a lot, keep it simple and don’t appeal to their logic, speak to their emotions.

Trump played with people’s emotions. He evoked anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise across the political divide. He literally stirred a whole spectrum of emotions in the hearts of the people.

His fans were motivated to follow him because his message was so compelling that they felt like they had to “drain the swamp.” Donald J. Trump’s words were descriptive and therefore stuck more. He spoke using imagery but Hillary kept it abstract and logical.

Hillary, on the other hand, did not craft a message that was memorable. Her phrase, which I can’t remember, was lacking in energy and enthusiasm. It was not compelling enough to get people out to vote.


Secondly, even though the Hillary team focused on painting Donald Trump as a monster, they forgot to tell the American people what she was going to do for them if she was elected.

‘Trump is bad. Trump is unstable. Trump doesn’t have the right temperament for the white house. Trump this… Trump that…

The audience rarely remembers what Hillary stood for except her attacks of Trump. This strategy, to paint him as an ogre failed badly.

On the other hand, Donald spoke about building a wall. He spoke about deporting immigrants. He spoke about the economy and returning jobs back to Americans. He spoke about tax cuts and repealing the Obama care.

His policies, though viewed as outrageous by a section of the populace, appealed to his core group – the white conservatives. Hillary’s strategy failed because she focused so much on discrediting the opponent that she forgot to sell her agenda.

As a guru salesman, Donald Trump was looking at the elections as another deal to seal. For him, it was a matter of life and death. You do not go to war with a master negotiator and not be prepared. Hillary played civil politics that can never get anybody out to vote but Trump won because he employed guerilla tactics.

Marketers and communicators must burn the midnight oil to study Trump as a master salesman and an excellent communicator. He literally tore the rulebook and decided that he was going to have fun with the elections. That paid off because from being dismissed as someone who was a joke to winning the GOP title and now the presidency, surely this man had a plan.

The Media

In the history of US elections, the media has never been this biased. All the mainstream media stations were supporting Hillary Clinton. But that worked perfectly well for the narrative that Trump was perpetuating. He packaged himself as a man who was not tainted with the Washington powerful men bureaucracy. He packaged himself as a layman who was simply tired of the career politicians messing up the nation. He packaged himself as a saviour; their Knight in a shining armour.

So when the media joined in the frenzy to back Hillary, his point was cemented; the ‘dirty’ Washington system wanted to retain a puppet in the person of Hillary Clinton, with the help of the media.

But just like in classical movies and the art of storytelling, once you get a villain, the hero story becomes very captivating. To ordinary people, Donald Trump was the villain. However, in the eyes of the majority white and conservative voter segment, Hillary was their villain and Donald Trump their hero.

Through his controversial statements, he had mastered the art of getting prime slots in news without paying for it. The media was awash with his words. He dominated the digital landscape. Everybody was talking about him.


Obama’s endorsement of Hillary might have worked against her. Obama’s charisma worked for him. He couldn’t transfer it to Hillary. Plus, he was on the verge of making history to a nation that had gone through the worst recessions. After Bush, they needed someone to inject hope and rescue America. Obama was the man.

But now, he is an incumbent. While Obama is leaving the white house with one of the highest approval ratings in US history, he wasn’t popular among the conservative whites. Endorsing Hilary irked this group. They might have interpreted the endorsement as an attempt for the Democratic Party to extend Obama’s rule through Hillary.

That was a double fodder for them to get out in large numbers and stop Hillary. For them, it was a matter of life and death. They weren’t going to stand another 4 years of the Democratic rule.

Obama being the incumbent, those who opposed him saw him as a clown and a soft guy who was more interested in pleasing the world than making America great again.

However, the nation was thirsty for a strong man who could be trusted to build a wall, deport illegal immigrants and stand against the powerful ‘Washington’ establishment. Trump was perfect for this agenda. He talks tough though sometimes his words appear to be offensive, he usually compartmentalises them. His target audience understands him.

She appeared too confident and she didn’t want it so bad. Being backed by powerful forces and having the Clinton name might have played a part in putting slowing down her campaign wheels. She appeared too comfortable because of a perception that she was going to win. She might have trusted the pollsters who predicted that she would win.

Her ‘winning’ the debates might have also played a part in getting her to be relaxed because the elections were for her to lose. The established media that supported her openly might also have played a part in making her complacent.


It’s going to be interesting to see how world affairs turn out. We might have just ushered in a new era of politics.

Dannish Odongo works for Capital FM as a columnist and a political commentator. Follow him on twitter @dannishodongo and like his page: Dannish

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