Getting Things Wrong — Election Edition

Why are we so worried about getting things wrong?

I got the 2016 election completely wrong but I wasn’t alone, Trump’s own biography called it “miraculous”. I was surprised Barack Obama won in 2008 because I covered the campaign from a bunker-basement at Fox News, and a TV-free desk at The New York Times, and was admittedly oblivious to anything off the island of Manhattan.

The pattern here isn’t (arguably) my stupidity but rather the context; where I was sitting at the time and with whom. How could I gauge the mood in the third most populous nation on earth, where a baby is born every nine seconds, voting is not compulsory and even registered voters lie on the census?

Just because it has scientific on the label doesn’t mean it’s right. Some surveys are only marginally better than a clairvoyant, polling sample sizes on average are less than 2,000 likely or registered voters. They’re a solid guide, not an answer.

I like to think, if I knew who I was voting for and truly proud to admit it, I wouldn’t shy away from any pollster asking for my anonymous opinion. Silent Trump voters don’t seem like shy, retiring, fearful of bullies types to me.

Being wrong is totally fine.

It is easier to talk about Donald Trump as if he were a brand rather than a politician. I’m sure we all did at some point during the last two election campaigns. He does it himself, with less emphasis on the critique. Trump — the human brand — leveraged his fame at the right moment to enter a new category, i.e., the US government.

Donald Trump approached the 2016 race like a challenger brand launch while Hillary Clinton was portrayed as just for women brand extension.

Trump is a personality nobody in polite company admits to admiring. He has something every fast food-loving, plantation-owner family tree, or tax-dodging company understands; he does not care for vegetables, guilt, laws, or protocol.

Donald Trump approached the 2016 race like a challenger brand at a product launch, while Hillary Clinton was portrayed as a “for women” brand extension.

To challenge established players, new brands need to communicate messages that resonate, reach as many people as possible, and often. Continuing my bastardization of Ehrenberg-Bass, Trump picked up voters from audiences that could never be expected to buy into him. His consumers included all demographics, including nine per cent of Democrats and many, many white women.

Donald Trump won the popularity Olympics, even if he didn’t win the popular vote. If brand loyalty exists, he’s apparently got it.

It’s iPhone v. Android out there. What would Google do?