Publication Date

Spring 4-25-2017


Helms School of Government; School of Communication


Government: Politics and Policy; Individualized Studies


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


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


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.