Trump didn’t so much win the US election as Clinton lost it

Donald Trump didn’t win the US election because a lot of extra voters were swayed to the Republican cause. He won because Democrats failed to vote for Hillary Clinton.


Clinton: loser
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Is there really a revolution under way in the US? Look at the voting numbers on the election and the argument isn't as easy to make as you might think.

You can divide electorates up into four groups: the ones who always vote for Party A; the ones who always vote for Party B; the ones who can't make up their minds (the undecided); and finally the ones who don't vote. The focus in elections is always on the undecideds the ones who make up the political middle ground and in the end decide who wins. In the US that means the "battleground states" the ones neither side is sure of winning.

Look at the US election with that in mind and you will note that there was no great surge in Republican support. In fact, it looks like the Republican vote in this election was much the same as its share in the 2012 election. The change here was not Trump swaying people to his cause. It was Clintonlosing them from hers: fewer people voted Democrat than in 2012 and it was that (loss not gain) that gave Trump Florida (29 electoral votes), for example. The other votes either stayed home (voter turnout looks to be a little below 2012) or went for various non-viable candidates (an easy cop out for those who know they should vote but couldn't cope with either Trump or Clinton).

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We will see what that means for the next election when all the data is in. But it could be that despite all the hysteria there is no real need for America's Democrats to move very far left or right to win the next election. Pretty much any polite, clean-cut person standing on a moderate centre-ground ticket, who is not related to a previous president, will probably do the trick.

Unless of course, against all expectation, Donald Trump turns out to be a good president and manages to increase the Republican share of the vote next time round.

For now, I'm thinking about the huge number of people who didn't vote. Do they not bother because a) they are so disillusioned with the process and the political culture that they think it will make no difference at all, or b) because life is really just fine so it's not worth the bother?

Merryn Somerset Webb

Merryn Somerset Webb started her career in Tokyo at public broadcaster NHK before becoming a Japanese equity broker at what was then Warburgs. She went on to work at SBC and UBS without moving from her desk in Kamiyacho (it was the age of mergers).

After five years in Japan she returned to work in the UK at Paribas. This soon became BNP Paribas. Again, no desk move was required. On leaving the City, Merryn helped The Week magazine with its City pages before becoming the launch editor of MoneyWeek in 2000 and taking on columns first in the Sunday Times and then in 2009 in the Financial Times

Twenty years on, MoneyWeek is the best-selling financial magazine in the UK. Merryn was its Editor in Chief until 2022. She is now a senior columnist at Bloomberg and host of the Merryn Talks Money podcast -  but still writes for Moneyweek monthly. 

Merryn is also is a non executive director of two investment trusts – BlackRock Throgmorton, and the Murray Income Investment Trust.