Love Trumps Hate
That is the bumper sticker on a lot of cars. Also on many t-shirts and signs, and placards. It was meant to be a clever twist on words. The implication being that since Trump preaches Hate, and if Hillary preaches Love then Love would triumph. That was the great hope this election. That the voters would reject the candidate who spent a lot of time making arrogant, hate filled speeches. The reality though is that the logic was dead on, just not in the way people thought.
The problem for the Democrats was less that they were wrong to hope that a message of unity over a message of division would win the election. The problem was that they underestimated how much people would want to vote for Trump. At the same time, they overestimated how people would want to vote against him.
Funny how people act. In general, people want to do something positive before they want to do something that will prevent something bad from happening. Telling someone that they have to vote just because one candidate is bad is not a great incentive. People want to be for someone or something.
To some of us, it seemed so easy: Trump was seemingly a terrible candidate, a deeply flawed man who could not help but say ugly things about a wide array of folks. The tactic seemed to write itself: tell American voters how bad this guy was and people would rush to the polls to vote against him. Yes, that tactic probably worked for some people.
That is not how most people think, though. They want to be for something or someone. The flip side of the coin was that as great a person as Hillary is, no matter how qualified, smart and capable, she was simply not all that charismatic. And there was difficulty in getting people to love her and her ideas. Last, her ideas could not be summed up in a simple, powerful message.
The result was that people wanted to vote for Trump and his central simple message. While fewer people could get excited about Hillary. And even fewer were willing to go out of their way just to vote against Trump.
There was plenty of negative messaging on both sides. But I saw a lot more negative messaging from the Hillary campaign than I did from the Trump side. And that did not bring out the voters. There has to be a person or message that people want to vote for to get them out to the polls, and one side had that love, while it felt that the other side relied a little too much on the hate and fear.