Senior Honors Theses

Publication Date

Spring 4-25-2017

School

Helms School of Government; School of Communication

Major

Government: Politics and Policy; Individualized Studies

Keywords

Donald J. Trump, 2016 US Presidential Election, Media, Silent Majority

Disciplines

American Politics | Epistemology | Ethics and Political Philosophy | Political History | Television | United States History

Abstract

Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign ended in victory because of two powerful forces: enormous media advantage gained through sensationalism and a strong coalition made up of evangelicals, pragmatic conservatives, and the silent majority. The work of Neil Postman sheds light on the underlying cultural foundation of Trump’s media advantage. Parallels from the video game industry explain how intentional sensationalism played into Trump’s success in the primary process. Evangelicals and pragmatic conservatives joined Trump’s coalition in spite of his scandals, and Eric Hoffer’s work helps explain his appeal to the silent majority. Ultimately, the patterns of Trump’s victory yield significant learning opportunities for future political campaigns seeking to capitalize on the same cultural trends.