How Trump Won

Yesterday during his press conference, President-elect Donald Trump vowed to bring jobs to the states whose voters helped him win. He talked about car manufacturing jobs that will remain in the U.S. once he takes office in a few days and the companies that won’t be offshoring work because of his intervention.

Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign's digital director and co-founder of San Antonio-based Web design, online marketing and branding firm Giles-Parscale.
Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign’s digital director and co-founder of San Antonio-based Web design, online marketing and branding firm Giles-Parscale.

Yesterday during his press conference, President-elect Donald Trump vowed to bring jobs to the states whose voters helped him win. He talked about car manufacturing jobs that will remain in the U.S. once he takes office in a few days and the companies that won’t be offshoring work because of his intervention.

But back to that comment about the states that helped him — just what does he mean? Didn’t all of America elect him? That’s where examining how Trump won the election matters — because many believe it was his campaign’s command of data that put him over the top.

Enter Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign’s digital director and co-founder of San Antonio-based Web design, online marketing and branding firm Giles-Parscale. Parscale declined Target Marketing’s repeated requests for comment on this article.

In previous interviews about the Trump campaign strategy, Parscale said the data showed the Electoral College would be the path to victory — not the popular vote. And indeed on Jan. 6, Congress certified the Electoral College votes and declared Trump the winner, CNN reports. This, despite a nearly 2.9 million-vote margin in favor of challenger Hillary Clinton, Time says on Dec. 20.

“We never fought for the popular vote,” Parscale told NPR’s Morning Edition on Dec. 6.

Parscale’s Focus on States Giving an Electoral College Advantage to Trump

“We created models that look in all different directions,” Parscale told NPR. “And by the last few days, I was seeing that we were going to win way over 300 electoral votes.”

Interviewer Rachel Martin commented.

“You mapped out one way to win, and this was it,” she said.

Parscale replies.

“I think that is the way to win an election,” he says. “You get 270. I think the argument was, which states were the most likely ones to do that? And at the end, you know, I felt that was Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and New Hampshire. I knew that, out of that, I had three or four different paths to victory. And by the week of, I knew that the Rust Belt was going to be the more easy one to win, so I was moving targeted money around.”

The Strategy Behind the Data

Before deciding which voters to target Parscale and a small team pored over surveys, polling and daily election simulation models.

Donald TrumpThen as volunteers knocked on doors for Trump, Parscale had them entering real-time data into the campaign’s database about the voters they contacted. Pushing a button on iPhone and Android apps, the volunteers acknowledged voter contact and that meant the Trump campaign didn’t have to try to reach out to that voter via another channel, Parscale told NPR.

That and being able to nimbly move money around from mail to phones or from TV to digital “within a couple of hours” because he only needed one layer of approval — Trump’s — Parscale could focus efforts on Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan during the last few days of the campaign, he told NPR.

In addition to these more applied uses of data, Parscale says the campaign “ran hundreds of thousands of brand-lift surveys and other types of tests” on its content marketing in order to determine whether positive or negative ads were the best fit for specific voters, he told NPR.

Which Channels Worked Best for What

Facebook was the fundraising powerhouse, Parscale told Wired for its Nov. 15 article. The social network contributed the bulk of the $250 million war chest attributed to online fundraising.

“Facebook and Twitter were the reason we won this thing,” Parscale said.

The Wired article notes that Facebook gave the Trump campaign a way to test voter sentiment that traditional TV ads and channels couldn’t offer.

The numbers were astronomical.

Author: Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

12 thoughts on “How Trump Won”

  1. Great article, but disturbing, too. “Oh, what a tangled web we weave. When first we practise to deceive” comes to mind when so many thousands of messages are tested and the body politic is sliced ‘n diced into so many narrow segments just to manipulate a win. Another quote echoes faintly: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

    1. The data story is nice, but really, Trump hit his opponent’s, and the mainstream media’s blind spot better than anyone in recent memory. Trump was a whiz at winning this election, but with a 37% approval rating as of yesterday, how will he use data to build on that?

    2. We’re talking at Target Marketing about how condescending the ‘pinking’ of marketing can be, so it was interesting to see the Trump campaign specifically target women with a ‘softer’ ad. (Speaking of segmentation)

  2. A very good read and you are right…you have to accept that your brand will not appeal to everyone. Accept the diverse tastes of your audience and embrace it. If you want to sway your opposition you have to validate their preferences. Without that validation you cannot effectively establish a dialogue or get that audience to even listen to you. All that you can ask is to let them hear you out…and if it don’tr work in your favor then so be it. But you plant that seed by being able to have a dialogue in the 1st place.

      1. Absolutely! It strengthened his reach/impac with his own voting base and, in effect, helped ‘rally the troops’ come voting day. And for those who were on the fence the variations of tweaked ads his team put out helped sway a few more votes his way. Flip-side, for those vehemently opposed to him the social media touches cemented their view(s) of him. He is a polarizing figure no doubt.

  3. My fave line “only need one layer of approval – Trump” this is also very important and what I think will make him good for the country. Trumps MO is to make sure he puts the best people in the right position and let them do their job without a bunch of red tape. He is building a great team.

  4. When JFK ran for POTUS back in 1960, a book came out shortly thereafter entitled “The 480.” The 480 were the different categories to which to fashion particular pitches. Trump was brilliant in hitting the hot topics and in defining his opponents: Crooked Hillary, Little Marco and Ugly Carly. He used concrete visions: build a wall and drain the swamp, for example. Of course, he won’t do any of that, but should he care? He won.

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