Original question from Quora:

Who will win the 2016 U.S. presidential election and why?

Which party – Democrat or Republican? Which nominees are the most likely to win their party’s nomination? How much will the gender or “race” of candidates influence the 2016 election?

My Answer:

Disclaimer: I’m not a Trump supporter. I supported Ron Paul 8 years ago and can’t support any candidate running for president now.

If you think about the real reason WHY people do what they do, there is only one reasonable answer for who will win the election…

Have you ever bought an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy S? Or perhaps you have been on the internet before, have you used Google for search?

Have you ever considered WHY you do those things? It’s not because they are the best options available or that they are even rational decisions.

Those choices are in fact related to other factors - social pressure, word of mouth, what your friends think is cool, what you hear and see on the news and in magazines and in blogs and all of that.

In a sense, the Apple iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S are now popular not because they are the best, but because they are the most popular. Your friends use them, so you use them. You see them on TV, you hear about them, and so on and so forth.

There is a gigantic echo chamber of influence where if someone can own the echo chamber of TV, news, social media, and so on… they will be very successful.

Now ask yourself, of the two presidential candidates, which one is most often the topic of discussion? Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?

Donald Trump by a landslide.

And I’m not just saying this by my own observation, Trump’s name is mentioned more often than Clinton’s name by a wide margin. Even at the Democratic National Convention, one night Trump’s name was mentioned nearly 200 times, and I think they used the word ISIS maybe 20 times. I’m not sure how many times they mentioned Hillary’s name at her own convention.

But Donald Trump (the candidate), was a bigger deal at the DNC than any other topic. More important than poverty, the economy, war, terrorism, health care, or anything else.

Even Hillary Clinton’s campaign signs say “Love Trumps Hate”. They don’t even mention Hillary Clinton. They only reinforce Trump as the most important part of the election.

Now, there are some very important psychological principles you can observe in your own life that turn the pro-trump and anti-trump focus to both work in the favor of Donald Trump.

First, what happens when you tell a child not to do something? They try and do it just to see what happens. Many undecided people will vote Trump because they were told not to. People love to be defiant, even if they don’t always know why.

Second, what happens when you see a name or product repeated everywhere? It becomes so socially acceptable that it’s “safe” to purchase. Once enough early adopters bought iPhones, parents and grandparents started to buy them. Eventually, everyone buys them because enough other people already bought it.

It’s called social proof and when EVERY CHANNEL on TV is talking about Trump, when every possible person on either side of the aisle is talking about Trump, that means that he’s safe to vote for because he’s a name that you know and can trust.

It sounds wacky that even people mentioning how terrible Trump is would help him succeed, but all people remember is the name Trump, not the scandals or the insults, just the name.

This is why Bill Clinton has got away with so much stuff… People don’t remember the problems and details, they remember the name. If it were possible, Bill Clinton could get elected today.

Third, Trump is very good at persuasion in both the small and big picture. For example, he always looks like the president when he gives a big speech. He has like 100 flags behind him, his podium looks official, and he does his best to make you imagine him as the president.

The democratic national convention stage designers don’t understand how this works. They got to the convention and realized they had no flags. They went out and bought a few of them for the second night. Still, from a visual standpoint, Trump is better at looking like the president.

That might sound silly, but we are very visual. Who looks more presidential to you, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump or John Kasich?

Looking like the president is important to being the president. It’s a big part of the job. In landing any job, looking the part is as important as any real qualifications.

Donald Trump is good at looking like he’s already the president.

On almost every front Donald Trump is more persuasive and interesting than Hillary Clinton, to the point that he’s more interesting to Democrats than Hillary is. In fact, the only person nearly as interesting in this last election was Bernie Sanders.

Even on these answers, a ton of them are talking more about Donald Trump’s bizarre and outsized impact than they are about Hillary Clinton’s policies or any other traditional political metric.

So taking all of that into consideration, I would say that Donald Trump stands the best chance of winning the presidential election and I don’t think it’s going to be close. I could see it being 60/40 in favor of Trump and if a meaningful third party campaign emerges it could be like 55/30/15 in favor of Trump (assuming Bernie supporters don’t get in line with Clinton).

I don’t imagine this will be a close election at all and traditional pundits will be confused, but will make up some rational sounding story about how the mood of the country changed and there is a big shift towards populism with Trump and Sanders. That sounds plausible, but it’s not true.

The truth is, Trump and Sanders are both very persuasive for very different reasons. Both far more persuasive than Hillary Clinton or anyone in her campaign.

I believe persuasion, not policy, is going to make the biggest difference.


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