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CNN SPECIAL REPORTS
CNN's Special Report "Why Trump Won"
Aired August 7, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: The following is a CNN Special Report.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me. I can hear all of you over there, thank you.
Do you think wealth corrupts?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It certainly can corrupt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or two things in life, love and work. If you had to choose one, if it was a life or death situation, which one would you choose?
TRUMP: I would probably choose love.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You would?
TRUMP: I think so, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Despite the fact that you spend all your time working, achieving, creating?
TRUMP: The happiest people tend to be the people that are making a nice income, that really enjoy their life and their family life and not the people of tremendous wealth that are constantly driven to achieve more and more success. You're expected to be a certain kind of a person and maybe you're not necessarily cut out to be that kind of a person.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: How did that Donald Trump --
TRUMP: Get out.
ZAKARIA: -- become this Donald Trump?
TRUMP: I'd like to punch him in the face, I'll tell you that.
ZAKARIA: There were 36 years between those two moments, years in which a young developer transformed himself into a president. By now dramatic pronouncements about Donald Trump --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is it lie after lie after lie after lie?
ZAKARIA: -- had become commonplace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the most serious charge ever made against a sitting president.
ZAKARIA: The truth is, Trump's time in office has been chaotic. So it's crucial that we understand exactly how this man became president.
You may say it was Russia or Hillary or Comey, but there is an even larger question. How did this utterly unusual candidate win the nomination against 16 formidable rivals? How did he even get close to winning the presidency?
TRUMP: Get out tomorrow and vote.
ZAKARIA: Sixty-three million Americans voted for him and tens of millions remain fiercely loyal. This is the story of the deeper reasons why Trump won.
We begin with the most fundamental aspect of his character.
TRUMP: Hey, fellows, turn the cameras around.
ZAKARIA: Donald Trump is a performer.
TRUMP: Life is acting to a certain extent. Life is not all sincerity. Life is an act to a large extent.
Society loves me and I connect differently for different people.
OK. Give me the mirror, please. Let me see the mirror. Come on, let's go. Can I see the monitor, please? Can you turn that one down a little bit? I think that looks good right there.
ZAKARIA: He starred in a prime time reality show for 14 seasons. And he's done hundreds of television interviews. No president before him, not even movie actor Ronald Reagan, spent as much time in front of cameras. Still more important, he spent years honing and perfecting a powerful message.
TRUMP: The system is totally rigged.
ZAKARIA: Ordinary folks get the shaft.
TRUMP: They don't care about you.
ZAKARIA: The big shots get all the breaks.
TRUMP: They just like you once every four years, get your vote, and then they say bye-bye.
ZAKARIA: And that message of rebellion against elites struck a chord. It goes to the heart of who Donald Trump is and where he came from.
TRUMP: My father said, Donald, don't go into Manhattan. That's the big leagues. We don't know anything about that. Don't do it.
I said, dad, I got to go into Manhattan. I got to build those big buildings. I got to do it, dad. I got to do it.
ZAKARIA: It's an only in America kind of story. A guy from the outer boroughs from Queens makes up his mind to scale the heights of glamour and prestige in Manhattan.
TONY SCHWRTZ, CO-AUTHOR, TRUMP THE ART OF THE DEAL: The eyes on the bridge and how am I going to cross that bridge. You're not a winner if you're from Queens. That's not a winner. I wanted to go to New York.
[21:05:03] Donald Trump was John Travolta in "Saturday Night Fever."
DAVID BROOKS, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: He used to go to parties in New York that he threw. And it was every C grade, semi sleazy pseudo celebrity. I was at a party at Trump Tower in the '80s and a friend of mine looked at this crowd of people there and he came to me and said not invited, not invited.
ZAKARIA: No matter how much he tried, Donald Trump simply never fit in with Manhattan's upper crust.
BROOKS: He had a chip on his shoulder about a certain class of people.
GEORGE PACKER, THE NEW YORKER: He may have wanted to be one of them. He certainly seemed resentful enough about not being included in the New York elite.
BROOKS: He was never going to be that. His tastes were too vulgar, his hair was too vulgar.
PACKER: He is a man of resentments. And his voters have resentments. And those resentments somehow connected with each other during the campaign.
TRUMP: Who is a minor in this group? Who is a standout?
ZAKARIA: Trump succeed, in part, because of his timing. While he was fighting his way up the American ladder of success, millions of Americans were sliding down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Middle class, working class people can see their way of life crumbling before their eyes.
ZAKARIA: When the man and the country came together --
THOMAS FRANK, AUTHOR, LISTEN, LIBERAL: This is the genius of Trump. He gave those people somewhere else to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He talks like I talk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he says what we want to hear.
ZAKARIA: It was a perfect storm.
TRUMP: These are people who work hard but no longer have a voice. I am your voice.
ZAKARIA: How did he become that voice?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take a look at my next guest. This is Donald Trump, 33 years old.
ZAKARIA: To understand it, we have to go back.
TRUMP: A lot of things had to do with it.
ZAKARIA: Through years of Trump archives. What's fascinating is, when you watch --
TRUMP: Money like I have never seen.
ZAKARIA: -- you can actually see him creating the character who would win the presidency.
TRUMP: Why are we knocking out $7 billion to Egypt?
ZAKARIA: To do it, he had to master the media and then manipulate it in ways no other candidate has ever done. Almost every interviewer asked the question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know people have talked to you about whether or not you want to run. Would you ever?
ZAKARIA: They asked because Donald Trump always talked like he was running for something.
TRUMP: New York City has been becoming a city of the very rich, actually. And the poor, unfortunately, and the middle class are having a hard time.
ZAKARIA: He talked a lot about the lack of affordable housing. At least he did until his own tenant said he's trying to evict us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're all evicted. I'm Donald Trump. Get out of our building.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He want us out because he wants the building.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's wrong with that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How about us? Where we will go? What we're going to do?
ZAKARIA: Trump wanted to convert their apartments into luxury condos. He eventually settled with them and chose a new favorite subject, foreign trade.
TRUMP: They are beating the hell out of this country.
ZAKARIA: He's talking about Japan, the economic powerhouse of the 1980s.
TRUMP: Japan is one of the wealthiest machines ever created. They laugh at us. Behind our backs, they laugh at us because of our own stupidity.
ZAKARIA: That line was a hit, so he used it for decades.
TRUMP: Look at ISIS, I mean, they are laughing at us. Laughing at us. Laughing at us. At our stupidity.
ZAKARIA: In 1988, presidential rumors began. Then caught fire when he showed up at the Republican National Convention.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have said that if you ran for president, you would win.
TRUMP: I think I would have a good chance. I mean I like to win. When I do something, I like it win.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You make no apologies about the 100-room mansion in Palm Beach or the $30 million yacht.
ZAKARIA: Trump was rich and he flaunted it, then as now. But it was a bigger problem then. After a stock market crash, an insider trading scandals, Americans did not trust the rich.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good.
ZAKARIA: The end of the decade of greed was not the right time for a Trump run.
Instead he threw a party, the opening of the most expensive casino in the world, the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. There was just one problem with all the hoopla.
[21:10:08] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bankruptcy could well be in the cards for Trump.
ZAKARIA: Donald Trump was going broke.
TRUMP: We have people coming from all over the world. Michael Jackson is coming tomorrow to see it.
ZAKARIA: But even Michael Jackson couldn't save him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're something like $3 billion in debt.
ZAKARIA: Trump's financial empire was crumbling.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you owe a tremendous amount of money.
ZAKARIA: Trump tried an excuse that would become a staple for him.
TRUMP: And I hope the general public understands how inherently dishonest the press in this country is. ZAKARIA: The media, he said, had exaggerated his problems.
TRUMP: I think it's unlikely the plaza gets sold. I think it's unlikely the shuttle gets sold.
ZAKARIA: Both the Plaza Hotel and the Trump Shuttle were, in fact, sold. To add to his troubles, the tabloids exploded with coverage of his messy divorce.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you ever near broke? What did you have to unload?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I unloaded the wife.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you feel she violated the agreement?
ZAKARIA: Trump frequently complained about all of the stories on his private life.
TRUMP: I guess didn't stop. The publicity was so incredible.
There's a lot of coverage tonight.
ZAKARIA: Yet he seemed to crave publicity.
TRUMP: Hi, everybody.
ZAKARIA: One bizarre story from 1991 demonstrates exactly how Trump manipulates the media.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the way, I'm sort of new here and I'm --
SUE CARSWELL, REPORTER: What is your position there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm sort of handling PR because he gets so much of it.
ZAKARIA: That is Donald Trump pretending to be a PR man for Donald Trump.
CARSWELL: And I said, you sound just like Trump.
ZAKARIA: Reporter Sue Carswell was on the other end of the call.
CARSWELL: It's just like this is uncanny.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He gets called by everybody in the book, in terms of women. Actresses, people that you write about just call to see if they can go out with him and things.
ZAKARIA: The recording was leaked to the "Washington Post" in 2016.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you aware of the tape? Is it you?
TRUMP: No. You're telling me about it for the first time and it doesn't sound like my voice at all.
ZAKARIA: Yet in 1991, he actually admitted it to "People" magazine. To top it off, the reporter is certain Trump leaked the recording.
CARSWELL: Two people had the tape. I had a tape and Trump had a tape.
ZAKARIA: Trump, say some reporters, leaks when he wants to distract the media. For the rest of the '90s, Trump's spin was, I'm back on top.
TRUMP: I mean, this kid doesn't give up. I'm maybe stronger than I was two years ago or three years ago.
ZAKARIA: And finally in 1999, he officially entered politics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, Donald Trump. Need we say more?
ZAKARIA: Donald Trump announced he was exploring a presidential run.
TRUMP: I would be prepared to spend $100 million on the race if necessary.
ZAKARIA: Trump already had a keen understanding of who his voters were.
TRUMP: The workers are the ones that really like me. I've often said, the rich people hate me and the workers love me.
ZAKARIA: He didn't really know what party he belonged to.
TRUMP: I probably identify more as a Democrat. I'm conservative, generally speaking. I'm conservative.
ZAKARIA: It turned out he joined the reform party. From the start, crowd size was a problem.
TRUMP: Tomorrow, as you know, there is a big speech at the arena, and I guess we have about 20,000 people for that.
ZAKARIA: That crowd showed up but many came to hear someone else, motivational speaker Tony Robbins. Trump was the second act.
TRUMP: Who thinks I should run for president?
ZAKARIA: The experience taught him Americans desperately wanted a non-politician to run for president. Soon he would hit just the right note.
TRUMP: You've been lazy. You're a real wise guy, you know that?
Tonight exclusive, the number one show on television watched by only 28 million people.
How stupid can you be?
ZAKARIA: "The Apprentice" was a hit.
TRUMP: The number one show in television. The number one show on all of television.
ZAKARIA: The ratings faded after the first few seasons, but millions of Americans who had only been vaguely aware of Donald Trump now knew him as the successful, decisive go-getter, he played on T.V.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're fired.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're fired.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're fired.
ZAKARIA: That intense identification people felt with Trump was a big factor in 2016. But perhaps an even bigger one was this.
TRUMP: Why doesn't he show his birth certificate? I think he's probably --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why does he have to?
TRUMP: Because I have to and everybody else has to, Whoopi.
ZAKARIA: Birtherism, the racist smear campaign that Trump launched in 2011.
TRUMP: I have people that actually have been studying it, and they cannot believe what they're finding.
[21:15:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have people searching -- I mean, in Hawaii?
TRUMP: Absolutely. And they cannot believe what they're finding.
ZAKARIA: Of course, nothing was found. In fact, there is not a shred of evidence that Trump ever sent anyone to Hawaii.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No one has ever asked George Bush --
TRUMP: But George Bush was born in this country.
Whoopi said, oh, but if that were a white man, you wouldn't be asking that question. I said, what does this have to do with race?
ZAKARIA: It had everything to do with race. Trump knew that an African-American man in the White House had stood ugly racial animus among a small subset of white voters. Far more were anxious, angry and desperate for something completely different.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he doesn't get elected, we're in trouble.
ZAKARIA: Donald Trump's birther campaign was aimed straight at all of them. It was a deeply cynical but highly effective political strategy. When Donald Trump stepped onto the stage, polls showed America's trust in its leaders was near a 50-year low. Trump the performer had finally gotten his timing just right.
In a moment, how a billionaire captured the hearts of middle America?
DAVID BETRAS, CHAIRMAN, MAHONING COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY: A guy that shits in gold-plated toilets is talking to blue collar workers. He is talking to those voters and they are relating to a billionaire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 911, where is your emergency?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got shot, we got shot, we got shot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You got shot where?
ZAKARIA: Shootings in broad daylight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is someone bleeding on my front porch. He's knocking on my front door. Please, I have kids.
ZAKARIA: Drug deals in abandoned buildings.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My friend called me and I think she OD-ed.
ZAKARIA: Mothers overdosing on heroin. This isn't the South Bronx in the 1980s. It's Trumbull County, Ohio in 2017.
[21:20:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on baby, you got to stop this shit, baby. You got to stop this shit. Come on, baby.
ZAKARIA: This area was ground zero --
TRUMP: The American dream is dead.
ZAKARIA: -- of Trump's Rust Belt rebellion. And it's easy to see why.
TRUMP: We're losing our jobs, we're losing our factories.
ZAKARIA: The American heartland is becoming the new inner city.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on man, is she still breathing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, baby.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. She's not.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's not breathing again?
PACKER: You began to see two generations on public assistance, fathers missing, the things I was used to hearing about the black inner city were true of the white small town and rural areas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Knowing they'll grow up with the same chance as the kids next door or any other kids in the country.
ZAKARIA: This part of Northeast Ohio was once a middle class paradise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We make steel and talk steel.
ZAKARIA: Built on the booming steel industry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five thousand production employees will lose their jobs by the --
ZAKARIA: Then the factories closed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife and I both cried in bed.
ZAKARIA: And the jobs disappeared. But that's been happening for decades now. Trumps win was about what happened after those factories shutdown.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People have been dying from drug overdoses at a rate never seen before.
ZAKARIA: The destruction of the very fabric of these communities.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Overdose deaths are on track to surpass last year's record-breaking.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Drug overdoses now exceed motor vehicle clashes --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- opioid crisis, a state of emergency.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My parents are driving down the road and ODM with their kids in the car, I mean, what's this world come to?
PACKER: I think that's a fertile ground for a politician to come along and say, you've been screwed. It's these elite's who had sold you out.
You could just feel that someone could come along and achieve a lot with it.
ZAKARIA: What Trump achieved in Northeast Ohio --
TRUMP: We're going to bring jobs back to Ohio.
ZAKARIA: -- was a colossal political upset.
TRUMP: We're not going to make this horrible trade deals anymore.
ZAKARIA: Trumbull County and neighboring Mahoning County were so solidly Democrat that Richard Nixon was the last Republican they chose for president.
TRUMP: Any direction I can point to, you're losing jobs, you're losing your plants.
ZAKARIA: But in 2016 --
TRUMP: Are we going to win Ohio?
TRUMP: We are.
ZAKARIA: The world turned upside down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's doing something the establishment doesn't like. It's the establishment that's the problem.
BETRAS: We are so off message. You know how off message we are? A guy that shits in gold-plated toilets is talking to blue collar workers and we're not.
ZAKARIA: David Betras, the chairman of the Democratic Party in Mahoning County, couldn't believe his eyes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A massive Republican turn out tonight in Mahoning County.
ZAKARIA: In the March primary, thousands of Democrats left the party just to vote for Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am taking a Republican ballot. I'm supporting Trump.
BETRAS: They are relating to a billionaire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Voting for Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From day one, I have been for Donald Trump.
KEVIN WYNDHAM, CHAIRMAN, TRUMBULL COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY: You excited a base of people the same way Obama did, you know, eight years prior. You brought out people that had never voted before.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: This is where Donald Trump has tried to sell, hey, the factories closed. Hey, I'll rip up NAFTA.
ZAKARIA: In November, the results was stunning. In Mahoning County, compared to 2012, there was a 12 point swing toward Trump. In Trumbull County, the swing was 13 points and Trump score to win.
TRUMP: Thank you, Ohio. I love you. Thank you.
BELTRAS: A man that shits in gold -- the world to say, it's -- I mean, I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time.
ZAKARIA: Bill Almeshy was one of those disgruntled Democrats in Trumbull who voted for Trump. He doesn't even like to admit it, but for him and his family, desperate times called for desperate measures.
BILL ALMESHY, VOTER: Most Americans are one disaster away from losing everything. That's not right. It's just not right.
ZAKARIA: He had been used to a middle class life, earning a good living in the nearby steel mill. But in 2012, the mill shutdown.
ALMESHY: Yes. Your livelihood, your whole way of life was just taken from you.
ZAKARIA: The Almeshy's lost their home and moved into a trailer park.
DEBBIE ALMASHY: How can this happen? You know, this is America, you know? We should all be able to have a piece of the pie.
TRUMP: I think we're going to win in Ohio tomorrow.
[21:25:01] ZAKARIA: Almashy had actually been a Bernie Sanders supporter but after Sander's bitter loss in the primary, Almashy reluctantly cast his vote for Donald Trump.
ALMASHY: The Democrats have lost their way.
TRUMP: We're going to bring our jobs back to Toledo, Ohio.
ZAKARIA: Trump relentless focus on jobs and trade won voter's hearts in Ohio.
TRUMP: We will never, ever sign bad trade deals. America first.
BELTRAS: We had this wild man, you know, saying, look, I care about you.
TRUMP: NAFTA destroyed Ohio. It destroyed Ohio.
BELTRAS: You know, NAFTA, that took your jobs.
ZAKARIA: Hillary Clinton speech on the economy failed in comparison.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.
BETRAS: Hillary said, now, you know, we can pull out coal miners out of work and, you know, we're going to retrain some people.
ZAKARIA: But there were those darker messages in Trump's campaign.
TRUMP: We are going to build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration.
ZAKARIA: Were they also behind his victory here?
BETRAS: It's not that people that anti-immigrants. What Donald Trump did, as he told people, you don't have your job because of immigrants.
PACKER: Prejudice is not a fixed monolithic thing. It ebbs and flows, and it's susceptible to manipulation and Trump manipulated it and let it out.
ZAKARIA: Trump seized on middle America's despair and when people become desperate, it's easy to blame others.
Up next, everyone thought that the 2016 election was a done deal, including me. Let's be clear, Donald Trump will lose the election.
TRUMP: I just received a call from Secretary Clinton.
ZAKARIA: Why I was wrong, when we come back.
[21:31:22] ZAKARIA: There was a time that many in the media would rather forget, a time when Donald Trump becoming president seemed like a joke.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He might be leading the Republican ticket.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know you don't believe that, but I want to go on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which Republican candidate has the best chance of winning the general election?
ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: Of the declared ones? Right now, Donald Trump.
ZAKARIA: Everyone stopped laughing as it quickly became clear that Trump was a category 5 political force. But for all his success, it appeared he would lose the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even if Donald Trump did win all of the toss-up states, he would still lose.
TRUMP: Let's see what happens.
ZAKARIA: In the final moments, even Donald Trump thought he would lose.
TRUMP: Again, I was getting this news which really sounded like it was sort of over.
JIM ACOSTA, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: "It will take a miracle for us to win," that is a quote from a senior adviser inside Donald Trump's inner circle.
ZAKARIA: Full disclosure. I, like Trump himself, believed Hillary Clinton would be the victor. Let's be clear. Donald Trump will lose the election.
I got it wrong. I thought the evidence seemed overwhelming.
Forget his dismal polls last week. He has almost never been ahead of Hillary Clinton in the polls for a single week.
I blew it. And the fact that others did as well is no excuse. This is the story of why so many got it so wrong.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It was Donald Trump versus almost all the experts, and as of right now, it looks like Donald Trump was right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now a historic moment. We can now project the winner of the presidential race.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An entire industry blindsided.
MATTHEW DOWD: An industry and a country blindsided.
ZAKARIA: Stun journalists playing the polls.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The data was wrong.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The polls were all wrong. What is this means for the whole polling industry?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Polling was wrong, we were wrong. Everything was wrong.
ZAKARIA: Most people still believed that the polls were way off, including Donald Trump.
TRUMP: Those polls were wrong in just about everything, weren't they?
ZAKARIA: But that's not right. In fact almost all the national polls had the winner wrong, but the numbers were not far off.
NATE SILVER, STATISTICIAN, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM: The polling was like the least wrong of anything. The polling showed it was a close race and people chose to disregard that.
ZAKARIA: The race tightened in the final days, giving Clinton collectively a 3% lead. She ended up wining the popular vote by 2%, in other words so close that even was well within the margin of error. Even statistic crew Nate Silver got it wrong, but he was less wrong than almost everyone else. He gave Trump a one in three chance of winning.
SILVER: That's a pretty good chance. If I told you there's a 29% chance the plane is going to crash, you probably wouldn't board that flight.
ZAKARIA: One reason everyone thinks the polls were wrong is that nearly every national poll put Hillary Clinton ahead consistently.
KING: Clinton leading in Florida, Clinton leading in North Carolina, Clinton leading in Ohio, Clinton leading in Nevada. I could go on and on and on.
ZAKARIA: But some state polls were way off. And those bad polls were in key states in the Electoral College.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the wall comes tumbling down. This is the blue wall that Hillary Clinton had talked about.
ZAKARIA: In the last two elections, Barack Obama swept key states in the Midwest. So it was assumed Hillary Clinton would win there, too. Wrong.
[21:34:59] SILVER: When Clinton had trouble leading in polls in Ohio, that should have been a sign that there's something different about her coalition versus Obama's coalition.
ZAKARIA: Clinton was counting on a surge of women and minorities at the polls. But the only surge in the Midwest was among white voters without college degrees.
SILVER: It used to be that college educated white people voted Republican and working class white people voted Democratic.
ZAKARIA: So the social class profile of the two parties has put.
SILVER: It's completely, but yes.
TRUMP: We won with poorly educated. I lover the poorly educated.
ZAKARIA: Trump's margin among whites without a college degree was the largest of any candidate in 36 years.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the center of the stage tonight, businessman Donald Trump.
ZAKARIA: But perhaps the key reason why many believe Trump couldn't win, no one even remotely like Donald Trump had ever run for president much less once.
TRUMP: And we need brain in this country to turn it around.
ZAKARIA: He seemed impervious to negative stories.
TRUMP: I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters. OK. It's like incredible.
FRANK: He would go down a list of American ethnic groups and insult every single one of them.
GHAZALA KHAN, FATHER OF A MUSLIM SOLIDER: Donald Trump, have you even read the United States Constitution?
FRANK: Like when he win after the parents of the guy killed in Iraq, that's like that's revolting.
TRUMP: If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe, she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.
FRANK: And you're like, what kind of politician does that?
PACKER: I think it was precisely because the media and the political class was so appalled. It seemed to almost be satisfying. Look, he did it again, they're freaking out.
ZAKARIA: And then a video that some called the mother of all October surprises. TRUMP: And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
BILLY BUSH: Whatever you want.
TRUMP: Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's lost any hope of having any kind of moral authority to lead.
ZAKARIA: The assumption was that he would hemorrhage (ph) support among the evangelicals and women.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What he does with women, it doesn't matter to me. When he does for this country does.
ZAKARIA: It seemed the more outrageous the accusation, the more and angry electorate as awaited defy the political established.
PACKER: That is identity politics. If you are on the inside of the group, they may not like some things about you. But, fundamentally, especially if it's a fight, we're on your side. You're on ours. You're going to stand up for us.
ZAKARIA: Perhaps the biggest reason Hillary Clinton look stronger than she was, look at the number of undecided voters in 2016 compared to 2012. Usually undecideds break about 50-50, but in key states, late deciding voters broke heavily for Donald Trump.
And with little over a week to go until the election, one event may have made all the difference, the Comey letter. FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress announcing he was investigating a new batch of e-mails from Hillary Clinton's server.
Trump had hammered the e-mail issue again and again to great effect.
TRUMP: She deleted the e-mails. She has to go to jail.
ZAKARIA: After the election, you wrote Hillary Clinton would probably be president if FBI Director James Comey had not sent a letter to Congress on October 28th.
ZAKARIA: What's the evidence for that?
SILVER: That she was winning by about six points before the letter. The letter come out and produced the lead to about three points. And that's small enough a lead where you can lose the Electoral College.
ZAKARIA: And that, of course, is exactly what happened.
TRUMP: I won. I mean, I became president.
[21:43:41] ZAKARIA: Hillary Clinton supporters were all smiles on Election Day. Until suddenly, they were not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The numbers are going in the wrong direction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Optimism among supporters here has essentially faded.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The path to 270 is looking pretty bleak.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Clinton is not likely to be the next president.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll never forget it. There was just this silence over the room and people just staring at screens hoping for good news.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those faces at the Clinton headquarters say it all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She needs a miracle.
ZAKARIA: Hillary Clinton knew the miracle wasn't coming when the phone rang and it was President Obama.
JONATHAN ALLEN, COLUMNIST, ROLL CALL: Her closest aide goes to hand her the cellphone and Hillary winces. Visibly just doesn't want to take this call because she realizes this is the sort of official act.
ZAKARIA: Roll Call's Jonathan Allen and The Hill's Amie Parnes wrote "Shattered."
ALLEN: Finally, reluctantly, she takes the phone. She put it up to her head and she says, Mr. President, I'm sorry.
H. CLINTON: Thank you all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could see the pain, a complete earthquake.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, MSNBC: I'm still having a hard time getting myself used to standing on this earth -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- under estimated.
[21:45:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a collective failure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is the most unbelievable thing that any of us have seen in a lifetime.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The numbers are wrong. We didn't see this coming.
ZAKARIA: So how did it happen? How did Clinton lose the presidency? And how did so few people see what was coming? Well, this man saw it very clearly.
BETRAS: We started talking to people and I said, we got to warn them that they're messing this up, they're (BEEP) it up.
ZAKARIA: David Betras, the chairman of Ohio's Mahoning County Democratic Party was the canary in the coal mine.
BETRAS: I said, boy, she's in trouble. So, my consultant and I wrote a memo.
ZAKARIA: That memo, written six months before the election, went up Betra's chain of command warning that the campaign was losing Ohio voters who had once been devoted Democrats.
BETRAS: Had they listened to this memo, we would be talking to President Hillary Clinton. I was having a lot of people just saying, I can't support her. I mean, you know, this guy wants to bring back our jobs.
They didn't care about all of his misogynistic, xenophobic, racist stuff. They just didn't care. All they heard was jobs, jobs, jobs, and he's going to try to get them jobs.
TRUMP: We're going to bring back jobs because we need jobs here.
We're going to bring jobs back from China.
To Pennsylvania, to Michigan, and all across this land, we're going to bring our jobs back.
BETRAS: And he sold them that, and we weren't giving them sustenance.
ZAKARIA: Betras says, his Democrats never understood exactly what Hillary Clinton was for.
BETRAS: They are working class people who think the Democratic Party has left them.
ZAKARIA: And, of course, we know those white working class voters were the tipping point.
To understand just how big a deal this is, let's go back a bit, back to the 1970s.
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: We've never forgotten that the Democratic Party is well named. It's a party of the people.
ZAKARIA: Jimmy Carter was for certain a man of the people, a peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their brand image is party of the people, the party of working people specifically.
ZAKARIA: It started even earlier, actually, with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was mostly the white working class that put him in the Oval Office four times.
The author and scholar Thomas Frank.
FRANK: This is who they were as a party.
ZAKARIA: Note Frank's use of the word "were." All of that changed, he says, with a Democrat who actually had a unique appeal to the white working class.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: In the name of the hardworking Americans who make up our forgotten middle class, I proudly accept your nomination for president of the United States.
FRANK: Bill Clinton is the sort of emblematic figure in the transition of the Democratic Party. From a party that cares about working class, middle class people to a party that is very much concerned with, you know, the innovation, economy, and Wall Street, and all that.
ZAKARIA: Frank's right. The Democratic Party did change during Bill Clinton's presidency. Bill Clinton made the party a bigger tent. And into that big Democratic tent went the elites of America, its lawyers and doctors and stockbrokers.
But let's remember, Clinton essentially tied his Republican opponents in the white working class demographic in both 1992 and 1996. So why did the white working class vote for Bill and not for Hillary?
FRANK: What they've become over the last couple of decades is a party of the professional classes. Highly educated, affluent, white collar people, the sort of upper 10% of the income distribution.
ZAKARIA: David Brook says Hillary Clinton fits into this category perfectly.
BROOKS: Went to a fancy school, went to an even fancier law school, married a guy from a fancy law school, lives in the sorts of places where those people would gather and, you know, the sort of zip codes with restoration hardware and anthropology clothing store.
ZAKARIA: If it sounds like he's simply describing rich people here, Brooks says there's a very important distinction between rich entrepreneurs, people who create companies and make things and employ people, and professionals.
BROOKS: People in the working class or the people who voted for Trump don't mind billionaires, but they mind our bossy professionals, teachers, lawyers, journalists who seem to want to tell them what to do or seem to want to tell them how to act. And if you had to pick the classic epitome of that person that most offense them, that would be Hillary Clinton.
H. CLINTON: You could put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.
BROOKS: And so she was exactly the wrong person.
[21:50:01] ZAKARIA: Maybe. But she seemed to have the right ideas. At least she had ideas, actual policies beyond banning Muslims or building border walls. She wanted to raise taxes on the wealthy. H. CLINTON: -- top 1% --
ZAKARIA: She had a plan for the opioid epidemic devastating the working class. She said wanted to retrain workers. In fact, said Barack Obama --
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: There has never been a man or a woman, not me, not Bill, nobody more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America.
ZAKARIA: But it turns out, voters often do not vote on policy. Instead, they choose the candidate they can relate to --
BROOKS: If you ask people after an election which parties stood for which policies, like a third of people don't know. That's not what on the business of doing.
But one thing we are all in the business of doing is judging people and judging a social identity. Which party is filled with the sorts of people I hung out in high school with.
ZAKARIA: And so it was the state of Ohio voted against Hillary Clinton. And it still upsets Betras.
BETRAS: I love my country and I love my valley and I love my state, and I didn't want this man to be president. And I did everything I could, and we blew it. And I'm angry and I'm upset.
[21:56:11] ZAKARIA: Let me return to the question inherent in the title of this special report. Why did Trump win? And let me remind you, as I did at the start, that our real question is, why did he even get close? Donald Trump was a totally unconventional candidate.
TRUMP: I don't know what I said. Ah, I don't remember.
ZAKARIA: Who broke all the rules and did things that would have destroyed anyone else running for president. Why did he break through?
As we've tried to show you in this hour, America is now divided, divided along four lines, each one reinforcing the other. Call them the four Cs.
The first is capitalism. There was a time when the American economy moved in tandem with its middle class. As the economy grew, so did middle class employment and wages.
But over the last few decades, that link has been broken. The economy has been humming along, but it now enriches mostly those with education, training, and capital. The other Americans have been left behind.
The second divide is about culture. In recent decades, we've seen large scale immigration, African-Americans and Hispanics rising to a more central place in society, gays being accorded equal rights. All of which has meant new cultures and narratives have gotten national attention.
And this has worried a segment of the older, white population. The fears of the national culture it grew up with is fading. One comprehensive study found that after party loyalty, the second strongest predictor of a Trump voter was fears of cultural displacement.
The third divide in America today is about class. The Trump vote is in large part an act of class rebellion. A working class revolt against know it all elites who run the country. And these voters will stick with Donald Trump even as he flails rather than vindicate the elite urban view of him.
The final C in the story is communication. We've gone from an America where people watch three networks that provided a uniformed view of the world to one where everyone can pick their own channel, message, and now even their own facts. All these forces have been at work for decades, but in recent years, the Republican Party has been better able to exploit them, and identify itself with those Americans who feel frustrated, anxious, angry, even desperate about the direction that the country is headed in.
Donald Trump capitalized on these trends even more thoroughly, speaking openly to people's economic anxieties, cultural fears, and class rebellion. He promised simple solutions, mostly aimed at others, Mexicans, Muslims, Chinese people, and of course, the elites and the media.
It worked. He won. Whether his solutions are even enacted is another matter. But the real victory will come for this country when someone looks at these deep forces that are dividing it and tries to construct a politics that will bridge them.
Rather than accept that America must remain a country split between two tribes, each uncomprehending of the other, both bitter and hostile. He or she would speak in the language that unites them.
That kind of leadership would win not just elections, but a place of honor in American history.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: You just saw the CNN Special Report "Why Trump Won." But would he win today?
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.