Did Hillary Clinton even have a chance?

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca in its summer fundraiser today for as little as $5 per month!

Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 U.S. presidential election to upstart candidate Donald Trump. The outcome is a major disappointment to the many people around the world looking forward to celebrating a woman elected U.S. president.

Her narrow defeat came as a shock to Wall St., major backers of the Democratic candidate. Stock markets tumbled as the Trump march to victory became apparent Tuesday night, winning North Carolina, Florida, and coming close in Virginia.

Trump won a race he was supposed to lose in the U.S. rust belt. The Democratic states of Wisconsin and Michigan gave him narrow victories; and like every other Republican president, he carried Ohio.

Trump was in Flint, Michigan, the home of Roger and Me director Michael Moore in the last days of the campaign. "I remember when cars were made in Flint," he said, "and you couldn't drink the water in Mexico. Now our cars are made in Mexico, and you can't drink the water in Flint."

People who turned out to vote for change decided the outcome. Trump addressed economic desperation; he promised to create jobs. He boasted he would end the export of American jobs by punishing companies that moved work abroad.

Trump won votes from people voting for the first time in their adult lives.

The analysis used by historian Alan Lichtman of American University to correctly predict U.S. presidential elections for the past 30 years explained the outcome once again.

Lichtman points to American pragmatism as being decisive, not issues or personalities. People decide to vote for or against the incumbent party occupying the White House. He offers 13 test questions of how things are going. If the results are negative on six or more questions, the incumbent party candidate loses.

For example: the incumbent president was not a candidate, there was a real race for the presidential nomination, and a third-party candidacy emerged. All these worked against the Democratic candidate, whoever it would have been.

What the BBC euphemistically called "the personal failings" of Donald Trump did not stop over 55 million Americans from voting for him.

Hillary Clinton was supposed to win because of demographics. The abuse doled out by Trump to Mexican Americans, other Latinos, Muslims, and his degradation of women should have worked in her favour, but it did not produce the expected result.

Exit polls showed a larger percentage of Latinos voted for Trump than for the 2012 Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

The one-time Democratic constituency of trade unionists leaned toward Trump. So did senior voters.

Establishment figures in NATO countries will be trying to figure out how to respond to an American president who opposes the military alliance.

The Canadian media, the Liberal government, and corporate leadership are undoubtedly perplexed. How could our free-trade partner do this?

Trump is good news for backers of the Keystone pipeline, fracking and coal mining.

He is bad news for supporters of Obamacare, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and those worried about an arch-conservative U.S. Supreme Court.

Along with a Republican president, election 2016 produced a Republican majority in the Senate, and the House of Representatives also remains Republican.

Expect a powerful Washington coalition to create new misery for undocumented immigrants, Muslims, and others out of favour with the Republican right.

The public persona of Donald Trump became widely known through his years on American reality television. The billionaire is as much a creature of U.S. popular culture as Ronald Reagan, the "amiable dunce" elected in 1980, and re-elected in 1984.

Attempts will be made to civilize Trump, and make him acceptable to the many Democrats who loathe what he represents. Similar efforts worked to make Reagan into a popular presidential figure.

No one knows what to expect from Trump, but election 2016 is a major signpost on the American political journey.

Talk of the implosion of the Republican party will lessen, and obsessing over the future of the Democratic party will begin in earnest.

Duncan Cameron is former president of rabble.ca and writes a weekly column on politics and current affairs.

Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism.

Related Items

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.