What a night it was! Defying pollsters and pundits, Republican Donald Trump won the American presidency, Wednesday, delivering a stunning rebuke to the establishment on both sides of the political divide writes Arun Kumar in his Washington Diary.
Tearing the political playbook to shreds, the brash billionaire shattered his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s dream to break the hardest glass ceiling and achieve her 16-year-old dream to return to the White House in her own right.
By the time an upset former first lady conceded in the wee hours of Wednesday morning after declining to deliver the traditional concession speech – Trump tapping into the anger of the working class, was well on way to capture 305 of the 538 electoral seats.
It was almost a rerun of the Manhattan mogul’s hostile takeover of the Grand Old Party in the primaries after demolishing 16 top politicians with insults, calling women names, branding Mexicans ‘rapists’ and proposing a ban on the entry of Muslims.
Pundits predicting his doom were proved wrong then too, but at least the polls got it right that time. How did all the pollsters bar one – LA Times/USC Tracking – get it so wrong during Tuesday’s nail biter that saw him losing big even at 8 p.m.?
Democrats had only one word for their stunning defeat – “Comey”.
It was FBI director James Comey, who had sent the Clinton campaign into a tail spin by rekindling her email saga with a “Diwali Dhamaka” only to clear her again two days before the poll.
Republican Trump did thank Clinton’s desi aide Huma Abedin and her sexting scandal embroiled husband Anthony Weiner – “Good job Huma, thank you Weiner” – after discovery of thousands of Clinton emails on their shared computer triggered the new probe.
Huma and Comey might have contributed somewhat to Clinton’s losses, but what shattered the prophets’ crystal ball to smithereens was what may be called the “Revenge of the Deplorables” as Clinton once called Trump supporters.
The pollsters failed to see the surging crowds at Republican Trump rallies or hear the voices of the “rednecks”, as Democrat Clinton’s hubby Bill dismissed the uneducated working-class white people toiling in the factories and fields in rural America.
Her well-oiled political machine flush with a near billion dollar war chest could not prevent her electoral firewall in battleground states from Ohio to Florida, supposedly held by the cement of minorities — blacks, Hispanics and women — from crumbling.
Exit polls data shows that among non-white voters Clinton led Trump by 54 points, far smaller than the 61 per cent who favoured President Barack Obama, while Trump earned the votes of 60 per cent white men and 52 per cent white women.
The millennials and the supporters of her primary rival Bernie Sanders too did not seem to have come out in numbers she needed.
While only seven percent of the Indian-Americans supported Trump with ten times as many backing the Democrat, he adapted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign slogan – “Abki bar Trump Sarkar” – to woo the community late in the game.
After doing a Brexit as he had vowed, Republican Trump for once turned presidential in the “beautiful moment” saying: “It is time for us to come together as one united people.”
It’s hard to predict how Trump Sarkar would govern or reach out to the world. But he has praised Modi as a “great man” and said the two nations would be “best friends”.
With Modi too looking “forward to working with Trump closely to take India-US bilateral ties to a new height” one can expect a Modi-Trump bromance to bloom soon.
(Arun Kumar is an independent columnist, based in the US)