Even If Trump Loses He May Win

Despite Trump’s precipitous fall in the polls, the latest results from Shapiro+Raj’s Rapid Research Project suggest the Republican candidate may continue to control the narrative of what to expect when this election is over, regardless of who wins.

In July, Shapiro+Raj launched its Election 2016 Rapid Research Project to get feedback and insights around the mood of the electorate as we head toward the decision about who will win the White House and which party will control Congress.

While polls and the analysis of masses of voter data dominate the press, we focused on understanding the often volatile emotional landscape characterizing this election.

We began this journey by asking, “Will Americans elect a Super Hero or a CEO?”, in an effort to understand the archetypes and emotional ties that bind supporters to the brands of Clinton and Trump. In October, “The Fears that Haunt US and Election 2016” explored fear as the great motivator of voter engagement.

In both instances, the role of narrative and storytelling clearly impacts voter expectations of what will happen after the election is over, especially among those most likely to lead the discourse in social media. Our Rapid Research Project, designed to create a dialogue with these voters, offers a deeper understanding of the emotional foundation of their perceptions of their candidate, their candidate’s opponent and the issues that drive this election cycle.

No doubt Trump’s tirades and scandalous comments about women slowed his roll. But what is also clear is his message and his ability to shape the agenda of the electorate, even among Clinton supporters.

To gain more texture around people’s hopes and fears in the aftermath of the election, we asked potential voters on Twitter how their life would be personally affected if their candidate won or lost. Expectations of a Trump presidency tend to be expressed in positive terms: feel safer (10%), better economy (7%), lower taxes (6%), America will be great again (6%).

These responses suggest Trump is selling a clearer story about what to expect from a Trump presidency, eliciting more specific, more positive references from his partisans than Clinton does from hers.

Alternatively, positive expectations of a Clinton presidency tend to be vague and atomized over laundry list of liberal issues, including social equality (3%), better healthcare (3%), strict gun law (3%), better policies (3%). None comes close to outweighing the negative expectations of Independents and Trump supporters: less freedom (10%), higher taxes (9%), America will go downhill (5%), more corruption (5%).

One thing is clear: Clinton has not painted as vivid a picture of the consequences of this election for everyday people as Trump.

So what does this mean for Clinton’s campaign moving forward?

Our data suggests that a clear vision articulating how her presidency will positively impact people’s daily lives would deepen her equity and expand her relevance, especially among white males.

This would help energize and grow her base long after the election’s over, support she will need to turn her vision into action during the first 100 days.

In addition, a clearer, more affirmative definition of what we should expect from a Clinton presidency should give uncertain voters something to vote for rather than merely someone to vote against.

Standing by the wayside and letting Trump be Trump may make it easier to gain the White House, but Clinton will need to lead the narrative of how her presidency will impact everyday life if she doesn’t want to expend valuable time and effort still trying to defeat Trump after the election is over.

By Lauren Tucker, SVP Strategy, Research and Analytics