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Faculty Advisors

Lieske, Joel


Against all odds, Donald J. Trump shocked the world when he won the 2016 presidential election and became the 45th President of the United States. Few foresaw such a victory for the Republicans; it was widely believed among political scientists, election analysts, media pundits, and reportedly even Trump himself that victory would ultimately go to the Democratic party. So how and why did he win? We examine the multitude of factors that contributed to his electoral victory, including his iconic “Make America Great Again” campaign, how his policies resonated with voters (as well as his primary opponent’s policies), and shifts in voters’ party preferences prompted by racial diversity. Our findings indicate that his campaign was boosted most by strategically using social media, having a message that resonated with supporters of the rising Populist movement, and aggressively campaigning in swing states. We also found that his primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, failed to attract key swing voters, many of which instead voted for Trump. Finally, we found that diversity increases Democratic or Republican party support among particular social groups based on the level of diversity in an area, thus prompting some of the unexpected electoral outcomes of the election.

Publication Date



College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences


Political Science


Political Science

Trumped: How Donald J. Trump Defied the Odds and Won the Presidency