1:10-1:30: “Three Wrestling Lenses on the 2016 Election: Rhetorical, geographical, and theatrical interpretations of Trump’s success”

David Beard is Associate Professor of Rhetoric at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
John Heppen is a Geography Professor at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls.


Donald J. Trump’s political style has been explained as an outgrowth of American exceptionalism or American examples of demagoguery, but we believe Trump’s campaign represented something different. During his campaign, Trump derided his opponents with insults, denigrated his female opponent, and called Hillary Clinton a nasty woman. This trash talk places Trump outside politics and within a different style of communication he learned working with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Using different theoretical approaches, such as rhetoric and electoral geography, we map enthusiasm for wrestling against enthusiasm for Trump to demonstrate how his pro-wrestling rhetoric led to his electoral success.

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