What just happened?Politically Aware Thursday, December 22nd, 2016
Commentary: Politically Aware
The national polls weren’t that far off
Clinton’s lead in the popular vote stands at nearly 3 million votes, or 2.1 percent, only 1.1 percent off of the RealClearPolitics.com average of 3.2 percent. That’s a smaller difference than the polls underestimated President Obama in 2012. The problem was the vote distribution – Clinton ran up the margins in blue states, and lost narrowly in the Midwest.
State polls were all over the place
It’s not entirely clear whether Trump voters were unwilling to admit their preference, missed by likely voter screens, or unresponsive to “mainstream media” polls. Whatever the reason, almost everyone had the Rust Belt wrong except Ann Selzer, who was laughed at for showing Trump winning Iowa by seven points. He won by almost 10. Even the Trump campaign thought they were losing on Election Day, but he surged in the “exurbs,” areas considered outside the suburbs but not quite rural. Meanwhile, Clinton was beating her polls in less competitive states.
Early exit polls were, once again, a bust
They showed Clinton ahead in Florida, and surprisingly competitive in Iowa and Ohio. It didn’t turn out that way.
Change mattered more where it counted
Based on exit polls, people who viewed Trump unfavorably (61 percent), not honest and trustworthy (65 percent), not qualified for office (only 37 percent said he was), and without the personality and temperament for the job (only 34 percent said he had them) voted for him anyway. 38 percent of voters said that “someone who can bring about change” was their most important issue, and Trump won them handily.
Some voters couldn’t be sold on Clinton
Hillary Clinton has been battered by conservatives, and sometimes the press, since she tried to lead health care reform in the 1990s. Some of the attacks were fair, but most were conspiratorial or misogynistic. Unfortunately, unfair doesn’t mean ineffective. Clinton could never escape that negativity during campaigns, though it notably dissolves when she gets a job and does it well. Some voters who backed Obama twice didn’t support her. Nor did the “Obama coalition” show up, at least in the right places. The urban centers that helped Obama carry Wisconsin (Milwaukee County) and Michigan (Wayne County) didn’t give Clinton the cushion she needed to offset Trump’s gains in the exurbs.
Americans wouldn’t take their medicine
Sec. Clinton and her team decided to make the campaign about Trump being unfit for the presidency. In a sense, she was billed as the medication we needed to prevent bad things from happening. Whether it was due to Obamacare issues or FBI Director Comey, late deciding voters rolled the dice on Trump rather than take a medicine that didn’t smell good to them.
We’ll know in 2018 whether they wish they’d finished their prescription.
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