There’s not a lot that Donald Trump and Joe Biden have in common. But their White House victories were, in essence, very similar; they won because the election was less about them, and more of a referendum on their opponent.

It’s easy to forget that during most of 2016, Trump was much less popular among Republicans than he is now. Back in October of that year, according to the NBC News poll, among those who said they were voting for Trump, just 39% said their vote was mainly a vote in support of Trump, while the majority of Trump voters (53%) said they were mostly voting against Hillary Clinton. Exit polling confirmed these findings. Clinton did best among the segment of the electorate that said their vote was for the candidate they strongly favored (53% to 41% for Trump). But Trump carried the smaller (yet critically important) share of voters who said their vote was really a vote against the other candidate. Moreover, Trump carried those who said they disliked both candidates (the so-called “double-haters”) by 17 points. In other

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