Headlining The New York Times, the morning of Nov. 9, 2016, read the unpredicted results of the presidential election: “Donald Trump Is Elected President in Stunning Repudiation of the Establishment.” For many U.S. citizens and pollsters, these results were shocking. How could someone who defied political correctness, who used abrasive language and who seemed so far away from a presidential standard be elected? Though this may seem like a liberal take on the results (and admittedly it might be), the results were nonetheless shocking to both Republicans and Democrats alike. The core question that scholars and citizens are asking is, “what happened?” What did Trump possess that was so sorely overlooked in the polls?

Following the campaign of the presidential contenders throughout the year, the vast difference between Clinton and Trump was evident. Clinton, a longtime politician with an impressive resume, was by standards significantly more qualified than her opponent. Yet her streak of political experiences was tainted by scandals. In this light, too many Americans saw her as a “standard politician” made and corrupted by the system. She represented the political institutions that many American citizens mistrusted. Trump offered a far different product to voters.

Trump tapped into a market demand that Clinton did not. Trump essentially became a salesman for change. He began establishing this market power early on in the primaries, defying the system, making it clear that he would dismantle the establishment in Washington. While D.C. politicians were consumed with their own circle of elitists, they forgot to look outside the bubble and see that the face of rural America had changed. Donald Trump’s secret was that he was an outsider. His monopoly of power that no one could compete with was his claim to oppose the elitists and to stand beside the “working class” citizen. A politician who saw political correctness as a sham was in demand for many Americans.

Trump took advantage of this wide-open market, knowing that he could make statements that were clearly sexist, racist and harsh and still be seen as honest. In economic terms, he was “raising the price” for voters, without losing the quantity of voters he needed to secure the election.  I recall all too familiar rhetoric from Trump voters: “Sure he is sexist and racist,” they say, “but at least he will get things done.” In other words, they mean, yes, the price to vote for him is high, but I still want a politician unafraid to defy the system. No other candidate could compete with this selling point, least of all Hillary Clinton.

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