An Honest Analysis on why Donald Trump Lost

Sergio Padilla
8 min readDec 19, 2020


Trump losing re-election was never out of the realm of possibilities, but it is a bit more nuanced than most outlets would lead you to believe.

Photo of Trump screaming on a truck from The Guardian

The election is over. Joe Biden won fair and square. While it is within the President’s legal rights to attempt to uncover irregularities, or request recounts/audits, none have been successful in showing significant evidence that widespread voter fraud occurred.

Even William Barr, the president’s own attorney general, has confirmed to the Associated Press that the Department of Justice has not found evidence of widespread voter fraud. At the time of writing this article, Giuliani and Powell can continue their dog and pony show if they’d like, but it will remain just that.

This article is to provide an honest perspective as to why the 45th President of the United States fell short of reaching 270 electoral votes, and why it’s more complicated than liberal, and conservative media alike would care to admit.

Donald Trump losing re-election was never out of the realm of possibility. The Queens native lost the popular vote by over two million votes, or two percent of the overall vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016. Trump entered office with one of the lowest approval ratings in history. The man was crude, had a narcissist aura, and carried accusations of bigotry.

Character is more important than many conservatives in the Trump era and beyond will let on. Take President Obama for example. Obama’s approval rating as president was often shaky but people generally liked him as a person. 2012 Republican candidate Mitt Romney wisely stayed away from attacking Obama’s character, going as far to say “I think he’s a nice person. I just don’t think we can afford him any longer.” Many people are still attracted to the idea of their president being a generally nice man. Joe Biden tapped into this with his soft tone, and inoffensive nature. Contrast that with Hillary Clinton who was widely disliked. Trump’s rough personality did him no favors against a man who reminds most people of an older male relative.

But if he had one thing, it was smarts (somewhat). Trump had the political landscape figured out as far back as the 1980s. Seeing as he partially existed in the very liberal entertainment industry, Trump spent much time as a registered Democrat, and although he had an admiration for Ronald Reagan, assisted in the funding of Democrat candidates. Trump hosted the Democrat royalty of the Clinton clan attending his wedding as recently as 2005.

Trump also found much inspiration in the candidacy of 1992 and 1996 Reform party nominee, and Texas billionaire Ross Perot. Perot offered a policy agenda that included liberal and conservative ideas of protectionist economics, non-interventionism, all the while securing America’s borders, strengthening the war on drugs and standing up to the growing Chinese threat. Reading through his first political memoir “The America We Deserve” is strange. Comparing Trump at the 2020 debates to Trump writing this book is like night and day. Which, ironically, gives us our first big hint as to why Trump lost.

First off, it’s evident that Trump still carried on his Democrat ideals when he called for the ban of assault rifle style weapons, and (get this), stumping for socialized medicine, or universal healthcare as it’s called now-a-days.

Trump’s 2016 campaign rhetoric sounded much like how he did in 2000 writing his book minus the controversial proposal and the socialism. Bring back jobs from across the globe, reverse our disastrous trade deals, support law enforcement, protect social security and Medicare/Medicaid, secure our borders via a physical barrier, and stop endless wars such as the war in Iraq. While Trump lacked a real healthcare solution, he correctly tapped into the mood of many conservatives, but also many people who had never voted in their lives due to them being sick of the two party duopoly in the country.

Trump dominated his GOP opponents with ease. While candidates like Jeb Bush and future HUD secretary Ben Carson brought little but tax plans, Trump played into the conservative base’s culture wars while speaking of populist policy prescriptions.

He also mastered the art of sloganeering. He tapped into the nation’s disapproval of congress, and the vast sea of unelected bureaucrats with “Drain the swamp”. He appeased hardcore conservatives upset with the Benghazi situation with his “Lock her up” chants. He even tapped into Clinton’s massive unlikability and general distrust with his “Crooked Hillary” smear. Trump was no more popular than Clinton, but he managed to skew her image more than she did his, due to her background in politics.

When the choice was the wife of the former President whose policies sent your factory job to China or Mexico, or a toxic stick of dynamite to bring down the establishment, many made their choice because they felt desperate. Donald Trump would never be elected if millions of Americans were not desperate.

The populist rhetoric put him over the top in the “Blue Wall” of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Though Trump could win the states of Ohio, Iowa, and Florida while still losing (which he would later do), correctly tapping into the rage and frustration with establishment politicians (including Republicans, and even a fair amount of two-time Obama voters) of mostly white, blue collar men, would be the Democrats undoing.

But what happened after that?

Was Trump successful in bringing back all these jobs that he had promised would return? Would he follow through with his promise to revitalize American infrastructure across the country?

Not really. And that’s why Trump is where he is today.

But why? Why would Trump do a 180 on a country that just elected him? If Donald Trump had truly tapped into this political climate, why was his re-election bid not a triumphant success?

It’s simple. Trump allowed nepotism, pettiness and his habit of being persuaded by anyone who was just in the room, or any one who would coddle his ego.

Let’s start with the most influential characters in the Trump White House. Step-son Jared Kushner. While Kushner can be given some credit for his peace deals with the middle-east and Israel, his actions did not reflect populist sentiment. He spent a better part of his time as Trump advisor enriching himself anyways. Trump went out of his way as to not offend Kushner by picking Mike Pence as his running mate rather than former New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Reasoning being that Kushner would not accept the man who prosecuted his father as his step-father’s running mate.

Next would be his campaign promises, the first of which being infrastructure. Perhaps Trump really did wish to pass some form of infrastructure legislation.

Infrastructure legislation would have created a plethora of new jobs, and revitalized crumbling infrastructure in states that voted for Trump like West Virginia, and states that didn’t, such as Rhode island. Put into this position, many smart men would obviously take this opportunity. This would never come to fruition. Instead we got ‘Infrastructure week’. American infrastructure would continue to crumble.

Trump’s infamous tax cut bill (Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) can also be cited as a failure, if not a partial reason for why he lost. The bill itself is huge, and is some of the most sweeping tax legislation to go through the American congress since the 1980s. It would need an article of it’s own to nitpick every detail, but essentially, the bill cemented lower tax rates on corporate profits, investment income ,and estate tax amongst others according to Investopedia. Some research has suggested that this corporate giveaway even encouraged companies to outsource more jobs overseas, essentially killing Trump’s chances at a great return of American jobs to the Midwest and elsewhere.

By 2020 Trump had a different tone. He had fully embraced the Heritage foundation talking points of slashing regulations, how awesome the stock market was doing, along with divisive culture issues of gun rights. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with advocating for the second amendment, Trump was convinced by the likes of Larry Kudlow that the health of the stock market and corporate profits was a sign of a soon-to-rebound economy, and a return to normal.

Then came the coronavirus. Trump took some action early on with shutting down borders and urging Americans to avoid large social gatherings, and remain vigilant. His approval ratings went just slightly north of 50%. But this would only be for the beginning of a year long epidemic that continues at the time of writing.

Then came the stimulus deal that Trump signed on to bailed out financial institutions, and large corporations. Normal Americans got a wee $1200, and tens of millions struggled due to the costs of rent, utilities and food. Small business owners went to the wayside as larger chains of retail and restaurants profited. Their own government had completely abandoned them on all levels, all the while losing family members and friends to a deadly virus. Naturally, they wanted a change.

Exit polling shows that Trump lost support amongst older Americans, especially older whites aged 65 and above, who normally make the backbone for Republican support. Almost like failing to contain a virus that kills mostly older people would lose you votes amongst older people.

Whites in general would lose Trump several key states such as the rustbelt, as well as republican strongholds such as Arizona and Georgia. Ana Navarro, and Stacey Abrams will tell you it was the black and Latino votes that lost Trump key states, but they’re not entirely correct. Trump net gained among Latino voters especially, flipping key majority-Hispanic counties in Texas along the Mexican border such as Val Verde and Zapata, and won a majority of Hispanic men in the key battleground state of North Carolina. Cubans showed out for Trump in Miami, building on the support he had in Florida from 2016. Cities such as New York, Los Angeles, El Paso, and San Francisco, which are deeply multicultural, increased their support for the president.

However, Trump would struggle with white suburban voters, as previously mentioned. Going back to Texas, Trump struggled in the suburbs of Dallas and Austin, and received less of a percentage of the vote in cities like San Antonio and Houston. In Staten Island, despite being the city’s only Republican borough, Trump lost support amongst the mostly white voter base while gaining in deep blue boroughs like the Bronx and Queens. Do you see the pattern? Trump lost support amongst whites as a whole, especially those living in suburbs, and made some marginal gains amongst minority groups.

As is the era of insanity we entered into, which seems to have started in around 2015, we’ve barely scratched the surface. While writing, the electoral college has confirmed Biden’s win, the Supreme Court unanimously refused to hear Trump’s attempts to overturn the election, essentially killing any longshot attempt Trump would have at staying in power. However, we won’t be seeing the last of Donald for at least another four years.

According to speculation, and even a leaked video, Trump plans on running for president again in 2024 as the President’s two potential terms need not be served consecutively (see Grover Cleveland), with rumors of the announcement coming while Joe Biden is being inaugurated.

Has Trump learned anything? Will he decide to ditch Kushner and crew to return to his 2016 self? Who knows what will happen. If this year has taught us anything, it’s to not rule out the impossible.