News World US US Election Why Americans turned out to vote for Donald Trump … again
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Why Americans turned out to vote for Donald Trump … again

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The polls had predicted a win for Joe Biden. But the US election result is far from clear cut.

As the world waits to see what happens in the final battleground states, many are analysing the motives of voters who could potentially put President Donald Trump back in the White House.

Mr Trump’s supporters don’t vote for him because of his promise to Make America Great Again, or rebuild the economy or because he chose Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court Appointee.

They do it because they relate to him, said US election analyst and professor at ANU Wesley Widmaier.

“I think what intellectuals miss is this, the importance of an emotional connection between leader and public,” he told The New Daily. 

“Reagan said you would be surprised how useful it is to be an actor in being a politician.”

Mr Trump is a master of appealing to people’s emotions, leveraging their fears and dreams, he said.

Mr Trump is a master of appealing to peoples emotions, analysts say. Photo: AAP

With more than 9.4 million coronavirus cases and 233,000 deaths, many pundits thought Mr Trump’s mismanagement of the coronavirus crisis would equal an electoral defeat.

The fact he was unable to deliver key policy promises, including building a border wall with Mexico, also added to the Democrat’s ammunition.

But elections aren’t about policy results, Professor Widmaier said.

“We all wish the results of governing would speak themselves, but they don’t,” he said.

“You have to be out there persuading folks. With the coronavirus, Trump said the crisis has been solved. That’s not true but he said it in a convincing way and makes people feel better.

“Our emotional response precedes our intellect. You react to something before you think about it. Especially in a crisis, it’s not about what we know but about how we feel.”

He said on a basic level, Mr Trump connects with voters. He makes theatre out of politics and twists the truth so it’s easy for people to digest.

The US election result is far from clear cut. Photo: TND

“Trump was able to take the coronavirus and say it’s China’s fault, it’s not mine, I did as much as I could, and we all need to get back to work.

“It’s all about the framing and interpreting and messaging.”

Often voters and Mr Trump’s messaging can seem completely at odds.

In 2016, white women helped elect Mr Trump despite audio of him bragging about sexually assaulting women surfaced during the campaign.

This year, the Latino vote handed him Florida, despite previously calling Mexican immigrants ‘rapists’, refusing to denounce white supremacists and telling congresswomen of colour to go back to where they came from.

“The thing is the electorate is diverse,” said University of Melbourne’s US political analyst Professor George Rennie.

“In Florida in Miami-Dade County, there were a lot of people who are from Cuba, who escaped Castro and are sensitive to socialism, so rightly or wrongly they’ve bought into the rhetoric around the Democratic party as shifting towards a socialist platform.

us election
Americans calmly turned out for voting in on US election day. Photo: AAP

“So that explains that area.”

Professor Rennie said for most voters, the economy had been the No.1 priority.

“If you look at the exit polls … they show the economy is still the most important thing and that’s always the case, then a lot of people voted on racial inequality and law and order, “ he said.

He said that swing states such as Pennsylvania will reflect this, with some choosing to vote for the Democrats because they think there is an issue with policing and others backing Republicans because they think the riots sparked by George Floyd’s death went too far.

“Republicans think there’s a real problem with Democrat states in terms of the way in which they deal with law and order,” Professor Rennie said.

“And Democrats think the Republicans are creating a crisis of law and order insofar there are problems of racist policing and racial profiling.

“This is a culture war. There is this division between people. We are increasingly finding a move back toward polarisation.”

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