Wednesday, November 9, 2016
2016 Election Post Mortem
Thoughts on Trump Becoming President-Elect
I called 46 states correctly (92%) and four states narrowly wrong (
Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida and ). I said the vote would be Trump 46% (he got
47.5%) and Wisconsin
49% (she got 47.7%), both within the margin of error of polling. Clinton
There were two overwhelming factors that explained why Trump won. Both of these factors were missed by the pundits and underestimated by me.
Wives Should Always Be Lovers Too
Women were expected to vote for Hillary Clinton. Minority women and college educated women did so. But white, non-college women voted 62% for Trump and 34% for
. These are the (often working) women married
to the (often underemployed) blue collar men who went to Trump rallies. Take a look at this link: Clinton
Throughout the primaries and main campaign, Trump had a ceiling of 44% of the vote. I thought I saw a three point margin between Trump and
, so to her projected 49% I gave Trump
46% (a number higher than he had been polling).
I very strongly suspect that white, high-school educated women were, as
a group, infuriated by the decision the Friday before the election by the FBI
to drop further investigation into Clinton ’s
emails. They couldn’t get away with
breaking the rules like that and weren’t charmed by this power play. Basic common sense drove them to Trump over
the weekend and this was too close to the election for multi-day polling to
catch it. Clinton
Trump was cheap about the ground game. He didn’t put forward the money to organize a get-out-the-vote drive nationally. He had only a skeleton staff in key states. This is a big part of why so many professionals thought he would lose. Personally, let’s take a look at the four states I myself called wrong:
and . I wrongly called all four of these states for
Hillary. All of these states had
incumbent Republican Wisconsin
Senators who were up for re-election; all got re-elected. I don’t think it is too much to suggest that
the Trump campaign rode the coattails of these senate contests. U.S.
Normally the presidential candidate leads in votes. But Trump’s campaign was miserly and his smart mouth hurt him with the public over and over. A lot of emphasis by the party, especially the Republican National Committee, was on a major attempt to maintain control of the U.S. Senate. This was successful and carried Trump along. President-elect Trump owes huge favors to the senators who won re-election in 2016, especially in the battleground states that put him over the top in the electoral college.
Trump did run a populist campaign and he had huge crowds at his rallies. His message was received enthusiastically and often broadcast live on television. How did this effect the election? In my opinion, it didn’t. Turnout in 2012 was approximately 130 million voters, significantly above the 2016 level. Romney received 47.2% of the vote in 2012, compared to Trump’s 47.5% of the 2016 vote. Trump narrowly lost the popular vote. Therefore the rallies and Trump’s populist stances are nearly specious. The big effect of the rallies was to increase television exposure for Trump that allowed his base to grow to the size of Romney supporters four years earlier. At no time during the 2016 election was Trump in control of his own destiny. He didn’t control the RNC, he didn’t coordinate closely with the senate campaigns in the battleground states, and he didn’t have a plan to pursue the women voters. Trump’s populism consisted of saying catchy things on television as an experienced game show host.
It makes more sense to say that President Obama’s leaning on the F.B.I. to drop an investigation of
emails infuriated high-school educated white women during the last weekend of
the campaign and gave Trump an electoral
college victory and a near-tie in popular vote. Most polls “roll” for three or four days and
thus were not able to fully catch the political impact of the F.B.I. decision
on Friday, November 4th by
election day on November 8th. Clinton
Because polling is partially retroactive, it couldn’t catch this last minute surge of Trump support above his normal 44% ceiling. Most polls were honest and within the appropriate margin of error.