Paul Wood

Donald Trump proved most people wrong

Washington D.C.

So, Trump was right, and everyone else was wrong. Most of all the pollsters – my advice to them: McDonalds and Starbucks are hiring, $9.00 an hour; that might be your best option for a while. A period of humility might be required from a few pundits and journalists, too. No one, it seemed, understood what kind of country America has become.

Hillary Clinton had been measuring the drapes for the White House. In the final days of the race, her staff privately predicted she would get 315 votes in the electoral college. ‘We’d like 340,’ a member of her staff said smugly. David Plouffe – President Obama’s campaign manager – tweeted that her path to 300+ was ‘rock solid’. 

It was such a stunning upset that even Trump himself – never one for self-doubt – hesitated to believe it. ‘He’s happy – but nervous,’ one of his friends told me, just having come from watching the results come with Trump, in his redoubt in Trump Tower in New York.  Trump then went off to celebrate the most improbable victory in American political history while, a few blocks away at what was supposed to be the Clinton victory party, people were quietly weeping. 

Trump succeeded in the most rancorous – and bizarre – election campaign in America since the television age began. He did it despite a dozen women coming forward to say he had sexually assaulted them; he did it despite the Access Hollywood ‘grab them by the pussy’ tape; despite the 3am tweets, the bankruptcies, Trump ‘University’, the ‘mafia ties’, Russia; despite, even, the excesses of his own personality. 

Right from the start of the primaries, Trump did or said things that would have been fatal to any other candidate. He did everything possible to sabotage himself, and yet he kept on winning.

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Written by
Paul Wood
Paul Wood was a BBC foreign correspondent for 25 years, in Belgrade, Athens, Cairo, Jerusalem, Kabul and Washington DC. He has won numerous awards, including two US Emmys for his coverage of the Syrian civil war

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