The public opinion pollsters have failed four times in the last 18 months. They thought that Netanyahu would be defeated in the contest for Israel’s prime ministership. They did not foresee the defeat of the peace referendum in Colombia. They were sure that Brexit would be defeated in Great Britain, and they were equally sure (with the exception of a few outliers like the LA Times longitudinal poll) that Hillary would be our 45th president. In all four cases the surveys reflected the pollsters’ attitudes but not the public’s. Like the New York Times, which has been eating crow over its election coverage, the pollsters need to get out in to the countryside more. The same holds true for the Hillary operatives who were caught by surprise. As a DNC source explained “it was all about analytics with them. . . . They were too reliant on analytics and not enough on instinct and human intel from the ground.”
But here are a few takes that have been borne out. Selena Zito of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review wrote the best brief explanation for Trump’s victory and the media’s embarrassment. Outside of the deep blue coastal enclaves, the people took in the candidate’s bombastic performances and regarded “Trump seriously but not literally.” In those enclaves alien to flyover country, the media took him literally but not seriously. They missed the humor and sarcasm of Trump’s version of the greatest show on earth.
The next best explanation was penned by former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan just before the vote. Referring to the stunning incompetence of the arrogant Obama administration, which has left the IRS, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services (which administers Obamacare), the Justice Department, and American foreign policy around the world in disarray, she wrote that a Hillary victory would leave the public in a position to be “condescended to by our inferiors.” Noonan anticipated the voting of “the deplorables,” people so racist that a third of them had voted twice for Obama before voting for the greatest show on earth. On the other hand, in our nation’s capital, Washington, DC, the center of fine wine consumption, where many very, very smart, high S.A.T. people gather, Hillary Clinton won 92.8% of the vote and Donald Trump 4.1%.
But in the countryside among “the deplorables,” Obama leaves office with the Republicans in the strongest position they have been in since the 1920s. They control 35 of the 50 gubernatorial seats. They have 66 of the 99 legislative chambers in the states (Nebraska is unicameral). In the states, Republicans have gained more than 900 legislative seats since Obama was inaugurated. The Democrats are, for the time being, a regional party. One third of all Democratic House seats are in California, New York, and Massachusetts.
On a lesser scale, Lloyd Greene, a politically astute lawyer in New York, anticipated that rising crime rates and riots in Ferguson, St. Louis, and Charlotte would, like the rantings of the George Soros funded Black Lives Matter, give the Trumpkins a boost: because crime has hit a 16-year high, with nearly 30 percent of all households reporting being “victimized.” Post-election, the riotous scenes in ecotopia stretch from the Bay Area to Portland and New York and other big cities protesting an administration that has yet to come to power have only confirmed the views of Trump’s supporters.
Obama insisted that “my legacy is on the ballot.” He’s right. The Republicans won the Senate majority in 2014 and held it “this year against daunting odds,” notes moderate Democrat Bill Galston (there are still a few around). Bill Clinton—”old Bubba,” as he was dubbed and mocked by the brilliants of the Hillary campaign—was derided as a worn-out relic of the 1990s. But while the Hillary campaign was consumed with identity politics that ignored white voters, Bill Clinton warned that they ignored white voters at their own peril. How right he was.