Vancouver real estate developer Bob Rennie joined CNN's Inside Politics anchor John King at the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association's Industry Outlook, held May 2 in downtown Vancouver.
King said the difference between getting up on Nov. 8 and Nov 9. was that there was no reason pre-election not to believe that Hillary Clinton wouldn't be the next president of the United States. The polls were in her favor, but one of the mistakes made was that "if the polls are relatively close, that really tells you nothing." It's one source of data to make your point, and its lazy, King said. In the final days, there were indications Trump had a chance.
He added he knew a friend's son who was working for the Clinton campaign in Florida who said Trump voters were coming out without any assistance and in an organic way.
"The thing to remember about this election is that Trump's own data team told him he was about to lose," King said.
Trump's supporters are still with him, King said, and in former Bush voting counties, he is overperforming Bush's numbers.
King said Clinton is a brilliant person, but she became very defensive and insular, and then retreated. She didn't "tend to the garden," which is blue collar workers in traditionally Democratic states. The base has expanded to Latinos and black voters, but "why ignore your traditional base? Those people are terrified," King said.
Globalization, the 'supercomputer in your pocket', and the lack of a clear direction for the country are all things that add to the sense of uncertainty, King said, and pointed to Brexit and other populist movements in Europe as indicative of that phenomenon.
"The next 20 years are a giant question mark," King said, adding that one of the reasons Trump appeals to people is his authenticity.
Hillary "stopped talking to real human beings, and if you're not in touch, you're going to get thumped," he said. It was a data driven campaign and "there's nothing wrong with data, but it isn't human," King said.
To the people who voted for Trump, he was the bull and Washington was the china shop. People just wanted to take the current system down.
Running for president is an incredibly hard commitment of years, King said, and "you can't believe the sense of disappointment she must feel," he said. Added to that is losing to Donald Trump. It took a couple of nudges from Obama to get her to concede, King said, but that's understandable given her life's mission of wanting to be president.
Rennie asked if Obama let middle America "go off a cliff" and King said Obama would tell you no, given his bailout of the auto industry and the overall state of the economy compared to the financial crisis of 2008.
"But politicians are walking on quicksand right now," King said.
He added some people took the Trump campaign as "make America white again, and you can't do that," King said, but that doesn't change the unease some parts of the population have with current demographic shifts.
People were looking for something new and different, he said, and "Clinton was anything but." For the same reasons, Governor Jeb Bush was a washout and Sanders was surprisingly successful.
One thing learned in 2016 is that younger voters aren't Democrats, they're Obama voters, and they have a strong libertarian streak. They are paying attention, but "in their way," via their phone and not cable news.
Rennie pointed out that both Trump and Trudeau are celebrities, and thus might be able to stand toe-to-toe. This is "the new environment," Rennie said, and King added "define media" in the current political climate.
King also said when Trump attacks the media, "that's just what he does. It's part of his political strategy, and it works."
Rennie asked if Trump will command the same respect on the worldwide stage as Obama had, given the anti-establishment feeling permeating the world? King said that in some ways, if you ask Republicans, Obama squandered some of that reputation. He added that the current occupant of the White House doesn't change America's huge economy or leading role as a nuclear superpower.
"How will Trump handle that? We just don't know yet, 103 days in," King said.
"The thing about Trump that makes him such a question mark is that he's never done this before," King said. "They got bumped and bruised, but that doesn't mean it'll be a failed presidency."
In terms of how this all affects Canada, King said in 2020 if Trump has a moderately successful first term there will be a renegotiated NAFTA agreement. But also, part of Trump's style is to stir things up and unnerve people, and then get his way. "It's worked for him and I don't think it'll change," King said. That's how he communicates, but at the end of the day Trump wants a deal. "You could upend the Canada-U.S. relationship...but why would you?" he said.
Trump does connect to the people, King said, and people discount that at their peril. He has defied every rule of political gravity, and the big question is whether this will continue.