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The US election wasn’t about a Trump surge, it was about Clinton’s “likability” deficit

Hillary Clinton concedes.
Reuters/Brian Snyder
U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton talks on her mobile phone as she gets off her campaign plane in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. November 4, 2016.…
By Heather Timmons
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

As the final numbers roll in after the 2016 presidential election, it appears that Hillary Clinton has won the popular vote by a thin margin—but she got about 6 million votes less than fellow Democrat Barack Obama did in 2012, and nearly 10 million less than he did in 2008.

Republican Donald Trump, on the other hand, actually pulled fewer voters to the polls in 2016 than both Mitt Romney in 2012 or John McCain in 2008.

The issue of Clinton’s “likability” has been raised from the very beginning of the campaign. Despite her decades in public service, and an incredibly popular stint as Secretary of State, she has often been viewed extremely unfavorably by American voters.

There has been plenty written about how fair that view is. “Likability” can be incredibly sexist and subjective, and in Clinton’s case it often seemed baffling and misogynistic.

Whether it is fair or not, it appears to have played a role in the election. Clinton’s opponent, after all, was the most disliked presidential candidate in modern history, with 70% of adults polled saying they viewed Trump as “unfavorable” in June. Still, the Clinton campaign couldn’t get voters to the polls to defeat him.

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