Donald Trump achievements: 2016 election and transition

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Official presidential photo of President Donald Trump
Main article: Donald Trump achievements

This article is a non-exhaustive list of Donald Trump's achievements related to the 2016 U.S. presidential election and his presidential transition period, beginning when he announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015,[1] and lasting until his inauguration as United States President on January 20, 2017.[2]

Republican National Convention and 2016 election

Primaries and convention

President Trump accepting the GOP nomination, July 21, 2016.
  • Trump defeated 16 other candidates – the largest number of GOP primary candidates in 100 years[3] – to win the Republican Party nomination.[4] Trump was outspent by several of his defeated rivals[5] and spent the second least amount of money per vote of any candidate of either party in the primaries.[6][7]
  • The National Rifle Association strongly endorsed Trump in May 2016 in one of its earliest endorsements ever, before Trump became the official GOP nominee.[8][9] The National Border Patrol Council, the largest border patrol union in the U.S., endorsed Trump with a strongly-worded statement, its first-ever independent endorsement of a presidential candidate.[10]
  • The Republican Party drafted and approved a very conservative platform in 2016.[11] Among its many provisions was very strong pro-life language that recognized the right to life of unborn human beings and condemning Planned Parenthood.[12]
  • When Trump became the presumptive nominee, some registered Republicans left the party.[13] Numerous liberal and establishment Republicans chose not to vote for Trump in the general election,[14] and many even chose to vote for Hillary Clinton.[15] Trump's nomination also reportedly deepened the divide between the GOP establishment and the base[16] and helped shift the GOP into becoming a "worker's party."[17] Thus, by winning the nomination, Trump split liberals from the GOP and showed who they and the establishment were.
  • Trump was strongly opposed in the primaries by the Never Trump movement.[18] Despite the strong opposition, Trump won the Republican nomination[19] and defeated the establishment and Never Trump movement.[20] The Never Trump faction in the Republican Party continued to try to defeat Trump into the Republican National Convention.[21]
  • The media noted that Trump won the primary election despite breaking many of the existing "rules" of campaigning.[22]

Historic general election victory

Trump speaking to supporters in Pheonix, Arizona, in October 2016

Victory despite the odds

  • Trump faced huge opposition from the liberal elites. He ran against the establishment,[23] and the establishment, in turn, opposed him more than any other presidential nominee since Barry Goldwater in 1964.[24] His campaign was vastly outspent, outraised, and out-staffed by Clinton's.[25][26][27][28] The mainstream media was extremely biased against and unfair towards Trump.[29] Newspaper endorsements were extremely lopsided, significantly more than in previous elections,[30] with the vast majority of them endorsing Clinton – out of 97 major newspapers, 57 endorsed Clinton while only 2 endorsed Trump,[31][32] and when counting all newspapers, over 240 endorsed Clinton while only 19 endorsed Trump.[33][34] Many supposedly conservative newspapers endorsed Clinton – the first time that many of them ever endorsed a Democrat for president[30][35] – and when only counting the most major newspapers, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson received more endorsements than Trump.[31] According to one study, 91% of the media coverage concerning Trump was negative and 96% of campaign contributions from the media went to Clinton.[36] While some celebrities supported Trump,[37] much more either endorsed Clinton or strongly opposed Trump.[38] The media widely assumed that Clinton would easily win the election,[39] and the elite pollsters and "political insiders" all predicted a massive Clinton victory.[40] At least once, when a poll was released that actually showed Trump leading, Clinton's campaign dismissed it as "bad polling".[41] Despite these apparently massive odds, Trump won the election in a massive, historical upset, winning even states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, which a Republican had not won for 20–30 years.[42][43][44][45] The polling and predictions were off dramatically.[46] Trump's victory showed that the strong opposition by the media and celebrities did not affect voters' opinions, at least in any major way.[33][38][47] Trump's election victory was described by Politico as "the most stunning upset in American history."[48]
  • Despite Trump's November 8 election victory, many liberals and Democrats did not admit defeat and actively attempted to sway GOP electors not to vote for Trump in the Electoral College vote.[49] Intimidation tactics, including death threats, were used against some electors in an attempt to make them vote differently.[50] Despite these efforts, Trump easily won the electoral vote on December 19, 2016, losing only two faithless electors.[51] More electors abandoned Hillary Clinton than Trump.[52] Congress certified Trump's victory on January 6, 2017.[53]
  • The media noted (as they also noted after the primary election[22]) that Trump won the 2016 election despite breaking every or nearly every rule or custom of modern political campaigning.[54]
  • President Trump won the election despite being vastly outspent by Clinton, who broke Obama's record for the most expensive presidential campaign.[25][26][55] Trump spent $40 million less than Clinton in the campaign's last weeks[28] and spent less than half of what Clinton spent altogether.[55][56][57]

Major victory

2016 presidential election Electoral College results. States won by Trump are shaded red.
Results by county, popular vote.
  • Trump won more votes in the general election than any Republican candidate in U.S. history, and he won the largest number of electoral votes since George H. W. Bush.[58][59]
  • Trump won 2,623 counties – the largest number for both a Republican or Democrat since Ronald Reagan in 1984 – while the Democrats won only 489, something even the liberal PolitiFact admitted as true.[59][60] Geographically speaking, Trump accordingly won 85 percent of the nation,[61] and he won 61 percent of the states (including Maine's 2nd district).
  • With the historic flip of Elliott County, Kentucky, which had voted for the Democrat nominee in each presidential election since its creation in 1869[62] – the longest such streak of voting in U.S. history[63][64] – every rural, white-majority Southern county voted for the Republican nominee for the first time in history.[63] In the "American heartland," the United States excluding the 52 liberal coastal counties inhabited by the liberal elites, Trump won by a margin of about 7.5 million votes.[65]
  • According to exit polling, Trump won 81 percent of evangelical Christians compared to 16 percent for Clinton, a record high and even more than George W. Bush won in 2004.[66] According to researcher George Barna in his book The Day Christians Changed America, Christian conservatives played a very important role in Trump's victory, particularly a group which he labeled "SAGE Cons" – Christian conservatives who practice their faith and have theologically orthodox/conservative views – which had a 91% turnout rate and voted for Trump over Clinton by a 93%–1% margin.[67] According to a study in the journal Sociology of Religion in 2018, support for conservative Christian values played a key role in Trump's election.[68]
  • Despite liberal expectations that Trump would lose ethnic minority groups at a much worse rate than compared to previous GOP nominees, exit polls found that he performed relatively well and better than expected (including better than Mitt Romney in 2012)[69] among Hispanics,[70] blacks,[71] and people of Asian ethnicity.[69][72]
  • In addition to Trump's defeat of Clinton, the Republican Party kept control of the House and Senate, outperforming expectations.[73][74] In addition, the Republican Party performed well – much better than expected – in state races, winning trifectas in Kentucky, Iowa, Missouri, and New Hampshire, and Democrats only had six trifectas and total control in five states, a record low.[75][76] The GOP won 25 trifectas, the largest since 1952.[77] In addition, after the election, the GOP controlled the highest amount of governorships since 1922,[78] and it controlled the most state legislative chambers in history.[79]
  • During Obama's eight years in office, Democrats lost 1,042 seats – including U.S. House, Senate, state governorship, and state legislative seats.[80]


  • While some conservatives[81] and other commentators[82][83] questioned or disputed Trump's commitment to conservative values, Trump ran a very conservative campaign,[84] and he received strong support from conservatives such as Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions.[85] Trump also received strong support from the conservative media, and, as noted by the mainstream media, the conservative media became influential in the GOP and Trump's campaign.[86] A notable example of this influence was Trump's appointment of Breitbart executive chairman Steve Bannon as CEO of the campaign on August 17, 2016.[87] The conservative media also helped Trump by making an impact in the 2016 election overall by strongly influencing the overall media agenda and exposing the liberal, anti-Trump bias of the mainstream media.[88]
  • President Trump appointed Kellyanne Conway as his campaign manager on August 17, 2016.[87] She became the first successful female presidential campaign manager.[89] She played an important and prominent role in Trump's campaign[90] and was described by some commentators as important to his 2016 election victory.[91]
  • During and after the 2016 campaign, the media noted Trump's ability to have numerous controversies (that would normally be politically devastating to a regular candidate) thrown at him and emerge unscathed, with none of it sticking – giving him the nickname of "Teflon Don" or "Teflon Trump."[92]

Trump Transition

Official presidential transition photo of Donald Trump

Despite not even being inaugurated, Trump made several notable accomplishments.

  • Soon after the election, the conservative Vice-President-elect Mike Pence replaced the moderate Chris Christie, who faced serious allegations in a scandal, as the head of Trump's transition team.[93] One of Pence's first decisions in this position was to remove every lobbyist, who had been appointed by Christie, from the team, in order to "drain the swamp" in Washington D.C.[94]
  • In an effort to "drain the swamp", Trump instituted a 5-year lobbying ban for potential administration picks as well as transition team members.[95] This was much longer than Barack Obama's ban, which was for two years.[96]
  • After Trump's election and because of his strong criticism of outsourcing, numerous businesses have specifically backed off from outsourcing jobs to foreign nations, citing Trump as either the reason or a large reason.[97]
    In June 2016, President Barack Obama told a Carrier employee at a town hall meeting that there was nothing that could be done about the trend of jobs leaving America. Less than a month after Trump's election win, Carrier tweeted that they reached a deal with the President-elect to keep close to 1,000 jobs in Indiana. Trump also motivated Ford to scrap their plans for a $1.6 billion plant planned for Mexico and instead will invest $700 million in a Michigan assembly plant creating 700 new jobs.[98]
Formation of Donald Trump's cabinet in late 2016 and early 2017
  • Trump picked the most conservative cabinet, at least in recent U.S. history.[99] In addition, rather than picking establishment Washington RINOs with worthless governmental experience in the capital city, Trump mainly chose an unorthodox cabinet of true conservatives, small-government proponents, and outsiders.[100] Trump originally picked five corporate CEOs for cabinet positions, the most in American history, although one of those nominees had to withdraw his nomination.[101] According to the American Conservative Union, Trump's cabinet was even more conservative than that of Ronald Reagan.[102] Additionally, Trump nominated David Friedman – a very strong supporter of Israel – as U.S. ambassador to Israel (which other Republicans likely would not have done),[103] and he ordered all of Obama's ambassadors to leave by Inauguration Day.[104][105] (the Senate confirmed all of Trump's cabinet and cabinet-level picks,[106] as well as Friedman as Ambassador[107])
  • In addition to Cabinet members, President Trump appointed several conservatives to White House positions, including Steve Bannon as senior counselor,[108] Stephen Miller,[109] Peter Navarro,[110] Michael Anton,[111] Sebastian Gorka,[112] Don McGahn,[113] and Michael T. Flynn[114] (although Flynn, unfortunately, was fired shortly after assuming office[115]). Several people from Breitbart News were appointed to White House positions.[116] At the same time, Trump appointed some liberals and globalists to White House positions.[117] Many of President Trump's White House staff were sworn in on January 22, 2017.[118]
  • December 2016 — In foreign policy, even before being inaugurated, Trump broke decades of leftist policy instituted by liberal Jimmy Carter by answering a phone call from the president of Taiwan, which showed he is able to stand up to the People's Republic of China.[119][120]
  • December 2016/January 2017 — Trump criticized Boeing and Lockheed Martin for selling the U.S. overpriced weaponry (including the F-35 Lightning II program), and he criticized Boeing for planning an extremely overpriced new Air Force One.[121] After criticizing Boeing over Air Force One and meeting with its executives, the company's CEO assured Trump that the new plane would not be over budget.[122]
  • January 2017 — Trump stopped the GOP-controlled House from changing the House Ethics Oversight panel rules after tweeting against the change.[123] While the panel does have problems that the proposed change would address and many fake MSM news surrounding it,[124] Trump reminded the House to focus first on helping the American people rather than themselves.
  • Due to Trump's election, U.S. generals in Iraq fighting the Islamic State began taking greater freedom to conduct operations in the way they saw fit.[125]
  • Despite expectations that Trump's election victory would cause the markets to plunge,[126] the Dow Jones Industrial Average actually performed very strongly, closing at the highest level it had ever reached in history after the second day.[127] It is rare for the stock market to rise immediately after a U.S. presidential election regardless of the winner.[127] The stock market had its best week in five years due to the optimism of a Trump presidency.[128] On January 25, 2017, five days after Trump assumed the presidency, the Dow Jones surpassed 20,000 points. It had been only 42 days since the Dow Jones passed 19,000 points, making it the second-fastest 1,000 point move of the Dow in its history.[129]
  • According to the transition team leader, Mike Pence, the team completed its work on time and 20 percent under budget.[130]
  • Even before President Trump took office, NATO's member nations began increasing their defense spending.[131]

Other achievements

President Trump speaking in March 2016.
  • During his 2016 campaign, Trump created a new and populist voter coalition that combined traditional conservatives with disenchanted Democrats opposed to their former party's abandoning of the working class for globalism, as Salena Zito and Brad Todd showed in their book The Great Revolt.[132]
  • Trump was bold enough to meet with conservative, right-wing figures who stand boldly for small government and conservatism, unlike many other Republicans. For example, he met with libertarian-conservative commentator and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in December 2015,[133][134] becoming the first president to have ever met with Jones according to Jones's website.[135] Also, Trump built up very strong relations with Nigel Farage of the United Kingdom Independence Party, with Farage becoming the first British politician to meet Trump after the election.[136]

Trump's victory over political correctness

  • Trump strongly and successfully challenged political correctness during his 2016 election campaign. For example, he insisted on using the term "anchor baby" despite a reporter saying the term was offensive.[137]
  • Trump stood up to political correctness and the left-wing consensus in numerous aspects, most notably for rejecting political correctness and communicating directly to the public rather than the mainstream media. Also, Trump was bold in rejecting the term "happy holidays" – supporting saying "Merry Christmas"[138] – and using the term "Islamic terrorism."

Trump and the media

  • Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign helped further discredit the mainstream media[139] due to his repeatedly challenging their honesty and by demonstrating that their predictions regarding his candidacy were repeatedly false. According to a Gallup poll released in September 2016, Americans' trust the media fell to 32%, an all-time low.[140] Other polls conducted during the 2016 campaign found similar and even lower levels of media trust.[141] Additionally, between the 2016 election and late January, trust in the media fell from 21 to 15 percent among Trump voters, and even among Clinton voters it fell from 57 to 51 percent.[142]
  • Donald Trump was able cut down leading media figures to size (along with other people[143]). He told Wolf Blitzer of CNN that if Megyn Kelly didn't repeatedly attack him, her audience would be even smaller than Blitzer's. When asked by George Stephanopoulos what his biggest mistakes were on the campaign trail, he pointed that Stephanopoulos has regrets too and pointed out his donation to the Clinton Foundation.[144]
  • Via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, Trump established a massive direct link to the American public unfiltered by the mainstream media. He had a large presence on social media when he declared his candidacy,[145] and his social media audience was about 45 million people at the time of his inauguration in January 2017.[146] A study by the University of Edinburgh released in July 2017 found that Trump utilized Twitter more effectively than Clinton during the campaign, promoting himself more than attacking Clinton, and two-thirds of Twitter posts, in general, were either for Trump or against Clinton.[147]

Further reading

  • Anton, Michael (2019). After the Flight 93 Election: The Vote that Saved America and What We Still Have to Lose. New York: Encounter Books. ISBN 9781641770606.
  • Carr, Howie (2018). What Really Happened: How Donald J. Trump Saved America From Hillary Clinton. Wellesley, MA: Frandel. ISBN 9780986193316.
  • Hanson, Victor Davis (2019). The Case for Trump. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 9781541673540.
  • Lewandowski, Corey R.; Bossie, David N. (2017). Let Trump Be Trump: The Inside Story of His Rise to the Presidency. New York: Hachette Book Group. ISBN 9788925597898.
  • Pollak, Joel; Schweikart, Larry (2017). How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing. ISBN 9781621573951.
  • Stone, Roger (2017). The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution. New York: Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 978-1510726925.
  • Wead, Doug (2017). Game of Thorns: The Inside Story of Hillary Clinton's Failed Campaign and Donald Trump's Winning Strategy. New York: Hachette Book Group. ISBN 9781785902260.


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