President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
In 2016 I was pretty confident that Donald Trump wasn’t going to win because like many people I was glued to the polls and every one of them told me that then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was going to win the election handily. To my great embarrassment, I was on air telling everyone that Trump wasn’t going to win even as the votes began coming in.
I’ve never had to wipe so much egg off my face, and to this day, I’ve never been so happy to be wrong about something.
After the shock had worn off and the dust had settled I began going back and looking for clues that would have keyed me in to know that Trump was going to pull out a victory that day. All the polls conducted by people who are smarter than I am said Clinton would win. Experts on election outcomes said she’d win. Yet she lost.
As I pondered and went over old articles it hit me that the answer was staring me in the face all along, it was just drowned out by all the talking heads and numbers being thrown around left and right, and probably in no small part due to my own bias.
I wasn’t really paying attention to the people. Not in the sense that I wasn’t listening to what they had to say but you may recall that during that time the vitriol was at a fever pitch. People weren’t just political opponents, they were enemies. Tensions were as high as the ire between those who shared it. People were being doxxed, silenced, censored, and intimidated left and right. It was madness pretty much anywhere you turned. It’s hard to get a sense of steadiness in that kind of environment, and you’re forced to tune a lot of people out in order to make sense of things.
No, I wasn’t paying attention to the people who were actually showing up in person to see the various candidates.
Trump was filling entire stadiums with people wherever he went. People would line up hours beforehand to attend one of his rallies, and this happened consistently. The vast majority of celebrities and stars out there dream about this kind of attendance whenever they put on an event.
Meanwhile, his opponents were consistently having trouble filling rooms. In fact, in one of the more embarrassing moments for the Clinton campaign, an entire hall had most of its lights turned off and walls erected behind a crowd in order to hide the fact that hardly anyone showed up for it.
— Brian Abel (@BrianAbelTV) September 8, 2016
Meanwhile, the scene at Trump rallies looked the exact opposite with hyped up crowds filling stadiums to the brim wherever he went.
It would appear that the tradition is continuing.
Even in 2018, long before the 2020 election season started in earnest, Trump was holding rallies that dwarfed anything the Democrats could even imagine. Even the left’s heroes couldn’t entice crowds to fill the back bleachers of gymnasiums.
For instance, here’s a rally where Obama was a keynote speaker.
It’s more like a blue puddle? Anyway this angle doesn’t seem to be playing on TV, wonder why. pic.twitter.com/6hRzZfUJvu
— Rosie memos (@almostjingo) October 23, 2018
And here’s footage of the crowd in Houston who had come to see Trump that same day.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2018
WATCH: People camped out overnight in Houston, Texas, in advance of President Trump’s campaign rally tonight. pic.twitter.com/hH35IgfzGo
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) October 22, 2018
— Emily Miller (@emilymiller) October 22, 2018
Keep in mind that this wasn’t a rally for Trump, that was a rally for Sen. Ted Cruz where Trump was giving a speech.
Fast forward to Monday, and we have Trump still filling out arenas. As my colleague Elizabeth Vaughn wrote, Donald Trump held a rally in New Hampshire where he didn’t just fill out the seats, 25 percent of those who showed up were Democrats who were willing to stand in the freezing and wet weather just to attend:
Republican Rapid Response Director Steve Guest asked on Twitter, “How many miles of broken glass would each 2020 Democrat walk over barefoot for their crowds to be just half the size of @realDonaldTrump’s overflow crowd in New Hampshire tonight when it’s 35 degrees out?
The local newspaper, The New Hampshire Union Leader, reported that Trump supporters began staking a place in line outside the SNHU Arena as early as 8 a.m. Sunday. He last appeared in New Hampshire in August when “he set the SNHU Arena attendance record of 11,500, surpassing the crowd of 11,400 at a 2001 Elton John concert.”
Not even the mainstream media could argue with this assessment. Shortly before 11 am on Monday, ABC News’ Jonathan Karl tweeted “Cold rain, snow and lots of Trump supporters. Despite the miserable weather, there are already more people lining up outside the venue of @realDonaldTrump‘s rally tonight than you see at most of the events for the Democratic candidates. Some have been out here all night.
Meanwhile, the leading Democrat, Bernie Sanders, also held a rally on Monday. His rally featured the hit band “The Strokes” and managed to attract a decent-sized crowd for a Democrat. Still, that decent-sized crowd only amounted to around 7,500 people with some of the seats in the bleacher still missing occupants.
Also, it should be noted that this performance from The Strokes occurred before Sanders came out to speak.
Over 7,500 were here tonight. Obviously far more than last night in Keene, making it the largest Democratic rally of the cycle for the second night in a row. And potentially more than some candidates will receive in votes tomorrow?
— Adam Kelsey (@adamkelsey) February 11, 2020
Trump attracted all his people without promises of a popular band and still managed to fill a stadium with an overflow crowd so large that it needed its own overflow space. The Trump crowd was many times the size of Sanders’ without bells and whistles.
It’s clear that Trump has the heart of the people and that with their heart, comes their vote. This is how I know Trump will win. It’s because the simplest clues are the ones that tell us the fullest story.