By Timo Järvinen, CEO at NayaDaya Inc., the empathy analytics company
Trump provoked the US people to vote. According to the NayaDaya emotion study and the election results, his “landslide” had two sides: The incumbent president’s re-election potentially mobilised over 90 million citizens to vote, but unfortunately for Trump, half of them wanted to get rid of him.
Donald Trump has stubbornly claimed to have won the US presidential election by a landslide. On Wednesday, in front of his supporters in Washington, he continued to emphasise his claim.
However, as CNN writes, the term “landslide” does not seem right in any imaginable situation: “Even if Trump overturned all six states where his campaign is claiming – without proof – wrongdoing, he would win, yes, but not with anything close to a landslide.”
I want to raise a different point of view: Trump did cause a “landslide”. However, the unforeseen movement is not the kind he claims. I admit that half of the avalanche gave him tens of millions of votes – but the other half buried his dreams for the second term in the office.
Relief is about avoiding a threat
According to the study, published Oct 28, 2020, and conducted by NayaDaya, YouGov, and Statista, the most common positive emotion among US voters toward Trump’s re-election or Biden’s election was relief.
In the context of election, relief implies avoidance of an undesirable election result. In the U.S. presidential election, it means avoiding the re-election of Trump or the election of Biden. Voters who expressed relief for Trump’s re-election, were not inspired by Trump, they merely wanted to avoid the election of Biden. Those who expressed relief for Biden’s election, were not blown away by Biden’s election, they just wanted to get rid of Trump.
The short math of these “landslides” reveals their opposite impacts
What does the vast number of expressions of relief means in the context of Trump’s – or Biden’s – “landslide”? The real movements are about how many people the candidates provoked to vote either themselves or their rivals.
The math is simple – let’s start with the number of votes per candidate:
- Trump – 74 million votes
- Biden – 81 million votes
The proportion of relief relative to all positive emotions expressed in the study:
- Trump – relief 37 % (other positive emotions 63 %)
- Biden – relief 56 % (other positive emotions 44 %)
Let’s assume two things:
- People who voted for Trump or Biden felt some kinds of positive emotions toward the election of their candidate (not necessarily toward the candidate himself)
- The percentages of relief among all U.S. voters correspond roughly with the percentages among the citizens who actually voted in the presidential election
To be precise, positive emotions in the study, conducted by NayaDaya, YouGov, and Statista, were love, interest, joy, admiration, pleasure, pride, contentment, compassion, amusement, and relief. Negative emotions were guilt, fear, regret, anger, shame, disappointment, sadness, contempt, disgust, and hate. In addition, there was a choice “no emotion”. The model of emotional experiences with 20 emotion choices (10 positive and 10 negative emotions) is based on the scientific research conducted by the University of Geneva.
Back to the short math: Considering the numbers and assumptions above, the true “landslide” mean involvement among two groups of voters.
- T1: People who voted for Trump’s election – 47 million votes (positive emotions, other than relief, toward Trump)
- T2: People who voted for Biden to avoid Trump – 45 million votes (relief toward Biden)
- Trump’s total positive and negative landslide – 92 million votes
- B1: People who voted for Biden’s election – 36 million votes (positive emotions, other than relief, toward Biden)
- B2: People who voted for Trump to avoid Biden – 27 million votes (relief toward Trump)
- Biden’s total positive and negative landslide – 63 million votes
And backwards to the actual votes:
- Trump’s votes: T1 + B2 = 74 million votes
- Biden’s votes: B1 + T2 = 81 million votes
In Trump’s “landslide”, tens of millions of people voted for him – and against him
According to the rough estimates above, considering the U.S. voters’ emotional experiences toward Trump’s re-election or Biden’s election, Trump created a much greater landslide compared to Biden’s landslide.
It’s Trump’s misfortune that almost half of his landslide went to the wrong direction. People who experienced e.g. disgust, fear, and disappointment toward his re-election, felt mostly relief for Biden’s election. Their voting behavior against Trump’s re-election wasn’t part of Biden’s movement, it was part of Trump’s bipolar influence. Many of those who voted in the election probably did it only to get rid of Trump.
It’s obvious that Trump’s loss was primarily due to himself. Trump’s disbelief for the Biden’s result seem to originate in a disability to understand and accept the influences of his own behavior and policy. Trump himself was the reason for the extremely high number of votes for Biden. Biden wasn’t the source of the inspiration for the 81 million votes.
The real source of the election result were the disgusting, scaring, and disappointing experiences and scenarios that made the people of the United States vote more than ever – to throw their incumbent president out of the White House.