While your financial analysis is very cogent, John, it assumes 43 million US voters would have made a different decision back in 2016 if they’d had the wit to perform a similar dissection of Trump’s supposed business acumen. In fact, psychological factors were almost certainly far more important. Trump pretended to run for the office of President in order to boost flagging ratings for his trash TV show. His rallies were largely improvisations in which, because he’s an ignorant blustering moron, he said repellent and stupid things. Some of these things resonated with the people who attended his rallies (largely the obese, the uneducated, the usual bottom-of-the-rung types who seek redemption through affiliation) and so he repeated them. By a process of unintentional feedback, Trump ended up with a stump speech that attracted the low-IQ voter. They adored him because he seemed just like them, only in technicolor. He validated their petty resentments, their deep feelings of inferiority, their ignorance and mental limitations.
There were no shortage of articles at the time pointing out how abysmal a businessman Trump really was. But none of these articles mattered, partly because Trump voters struggle to read anything more complicated than a TV guide and partly because his actual success mattered far less than his bluster. Simple-minded people run from complexity because they can only handle simplicity. Trump’s message was “I’m a yuge success!” and that was easy for their tiny minds to grasp. And so they voted for him.
Because he was such a stupid and repellent character and was nothing more than a 21st century freak show and hence irresistible viewing, the media gave him 85% of their coverage for free, putting his bloated fatuous orange face everywhere and thereby reinforcing the illusion of power and success. Naturally this served to convince the simple-minded of the wisdom of their support.
Once Trump was the official Republican candidate, the always-vote-the-ticket crowd fell obediently into line. “I mean, the guy may be a moron and has repudiated every single thing Republicans believe in aside from yet more tax breaks for corporations and the ultra-rich, but hey: there’s an “R” next to his name on the ballot so we have to vote for him…”
The rest, as they say, is history. It’s also why he’s nearly certain to win 2020 by a landslide. Nothing since 2016 has changed in the slightest.