How did Trump win? Here are 24 theories

4 surprises that led to Trump's win
4 surprises that led to Trump's win

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  • We are left to sketch the first draft of history
  • Here are 24 different explanations -- some way more realistic than others -- for Trump's win

(CNN)Here is one thing we know: Donald Trump, against all odds, will be the next President of the United States.

That's a fact. How exactly it came to be is an open question. There will be dozens of books written about the real estate magnate's path to the White House. From his trampling of the Republican primary field to a convincing electoral victory over Hillary Clinton after a shockingly nasty general election campaign, some could arrive in volumes.
    For now, though, we are left to sketch the first draft of history. And, like so many rough outlines, this one is a little messy.
    Here are 24 different explanations -- some way more realistic than others -- for Trump's win:

    1. He won because of Facebook and its inability or unwillingness to crack down on fake news

    Via New York Magazine: The social network and others like it became a clearinghouse for fake news. Not simple partisan spin, but outright lies peddled as objective truth by shady actors both inside the US and abroad.

    2. Because of social media, generally

    Via right-wing commentator Stefan Molyneux: The medium made the man -- much as radio won the presidency for Franklin Roosevelt and television boosted John Kennedy, social media allowed Trump and his allies to drive the narrative.

    3. Because of low voter turnout

    Via multiple sources on social media: For a variety of reasons, from an enthusiasm gap to voter suppression, turnout in 2016 was lower across the board, but especially among Democrats. And it cost Clinton the election.

    4. Because celebrity outlasts substance

    Via Quartz: Trump's name ID, celebrity and media-savvy overmatched Clinton's policy acumen and data-driven turnout operation.

    5. Because of white women

    Via Slate: They were just as "racist" as their white male counterparts, with whom they identify more than women from minority groups.

    6. Because of white male resentment

    Via The Nation: Forget economic anxiety -- exit polls show people making the least money voted for Clinton -- and focus on identity. The best evidence lies in Trump and his supporters' calls to "take our country back."

    7. Because of Russia after all?

    Via The Washington Post: The Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said in an interview with state media that, contrary to Trump's denials, "quite a few" people from his "entourage" have "been staying in touch with Russian representatives."

    8. Because the left and coastal elites shamed Trump supporters

    Via The New York Times: The left has pressed on with an "ideology of shame" directed at the right, most notably now Trump supporters.
    In short: "The racism, sexism and xenophobia used by Mr. Trump to advance his candidacy does not reveal an inherent malice in the majority of Americans."

    9. Because rural Midwesterners don't get out of the house enough

    Via Patrick Thornton of Roll Call: It's not just that elites are abandoning or ignoring Middle America -- the "rural midwest" is doing the same, becoming more isolated and resistant to the diversity (of identity and thought) on the coasts.

    10. Because the Democratic Party establishment didn't push Bernie Sanders

    Via The Huffington Post: By raising up Clinton over Sanders, the Democratic Party establishment (and its voters?) showed they favored the company and support of comfortable professionals over those beset by economic injustice.

    11. Because Reagan Democrats surged in Michigan and Midwest

    Via former U.N. ambassador John Bolton: The so-called "Reagan Democrats" -- white, working class voters who tend to lean Democrat but bend right for special candidates like Ronald Reagan and, now, Trump -- are the story of this election.

    12. Not because of millennials

    Via the Boston Globe: But do blame the media for focusing too much on them and not enough on the older white males who were the great, underreported story of 2016.

    13. Because of Gary Johnson and Jill Stein

    Via Vanity Fair: Clinton lost for lots of reasons, most notably the millions of voters who turned out for Johnson and Stein, thus denying the Democratic support she might have received in narrowly lost states like Pennsylvania.

    14. Because political correctness set off a nasty backlash

    Via Reason: Trump's promise to "destroy" political correctness, which has run rampant on college campuses and other more liberal enclaves, won him the culture war and, thus, the presidency.

    15. Because he simply listened to the American people

    Via right radio host John Cardillo: The political class (on the coasts) did not listen to or care enough for Middle America. Trump did. So he won.

    16. Because college educated Americans are out of touch

    Via the Alaska Dispatch News: Trump spoke to working-class voters, here mostly defined as those without college degrees, about the things they cared about: religion, liberty, marriage, sexuality, abortion and gun rights. And because "professorial sorts" who have spent time at universities drift into an "insular political culture," their candidate was doomed to lose.

    17. Because Americans are biased -- but not against any race, ethnicity or gender

    Via The Resurgent: The election was, simply, a referendum on the ruling class in Washington, D.C. None of the other issues, be they cultural or racial, came close to mattering as much.

    18. Because voters believed the system was corrupt

    Via The (UK) Daily Telegraph: Voters believed their political apparatus was corrupt and Trump was the only one who reliably affirmed that belief and promised to fix it.

    19. Because he remembered 'forgotten men, women' of America

    Via FirstPost: While Hillary Clinton held campaign rallies with Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Trump was out talking about the "forgotten" working class, which in turn exacted a "revenge" on the political elite by voting for him.

    20. Because Democrats focused more on turning out supporters than growing the base

    Via In These Times: The party and the left "have given up/abandoned/lost touch with the working class" -- as evidenced by their lame effort to persuade people outside their base. By focusing on them, Democrats ceded all else.

    21. Because the Democratic National Committee selected the less competitive candidate

    Via WikiLeaks on Twitter: The party tipped the scales for Clinton, thus "defeating the purpose of running a primary" and in turn denying Sanders, a better candidate, the chance to win.

    22. Not because of racism

    Via Bloomberg View: Never mind the backlash to the country's first African-American president, this wasn't about race in the slightest. If race were an issue, then Obama wouldn't have won two terms and many of the states Trump himself prevailed in on Tuesday.

    23. Because of Comey

    Via USA Today: The FBI director's decision to revive the Clinton email circus with a letter to Congress two weeks before Election Day killed the Democrat's momentum and derailed her plans to finish the campaign with a more uplifting message. It also distracted from things like Trump's comments in the "Access Hollywood" tape.

    24. Not because of Comey

    Via The Washington Post: Clinton lost because exit polls showed more than half of voters believed she was "corrupt." And that was her own fault, not Comey's.