In a surprising upset, we have elected our 45th president: Donald J. Trump.
The 2016 election concluded with a decisive victory for the Republican Party, which, come January, will control both chambers of the legislative branch and the executive branch. Trump will also have the opportunity to appoint at least one justice– likely conservative– to the Supreme Court.
In the Blair Mock Vote, organized by the History Department, Clinton was triumphant, winning 53.1% of student, faculty, and staff votes. Trump took 33.1% of the vote..
For the first time since the election of President Reagan in 1980, our Mock Vote failed to accurately predict the result of the election.
When reality TV star and real estate mogul Donald Trump announced his candidacy in early 2016, very few people foresaw his success in the primary, despite– and possibly because of– his unusual background and bravado. Even fewer foresaw his path to the presidency.
Trump’s unforeseen victory is likely the result of several factors overlooked by mainstream pundits, including a media bias that neglected to “visualize Trump as the president of the United States,” and a wave of populism brought on by widespread disaffection in America. This also explains what propelled Sanders so far in the Democratic primary (Washington Post).
Populism surprised pundits as Michigan became a key state in last night’s contest. Perhaps it shouldn’t have. In the 2016 Democratic Primary, populist candidate Bernie Sanders swept the state taking 67 delegates in what was supposed to be a sound Clinton victory. Both Sanders and Trump’s messages resonated with the people of that Rust Belt state.
Major outlets called Michigan too early for Clinton. Early predictions from the New York Times and FiveThirtyEight directly overlooked a mass of discontented voters. This resulted in false hope for many Clinton supporters and incorrect assumptions about the possible outcomes of the race.
A similar phenomenon occurred in Britain’s Brexit vote this past June. Day-of polls showed the “Remain” camp winning by ten percentage points (Financial Times). When the votes were counted, “Leave” actually won, 52 to 48. Miscalculations in Britain don’t seem to have impacted many US electoral statistical aggregate models.
Though the results are not yet finalized, Trump won at least 279 electoral votes of the necessary 270. Trump may not have won a majority of the popular vote, but he certainly won significantly more than the 33.1% he won in the Blair Mock Vote.
The 2016 election was influenced heavily by populism and the media, and is sure to have an indelible impact on the course of our nation, society, and electoral system. As always, it is imperative to accept and support the decisions of the people and trust in the efficacy of our representative democracy. It is also necessary to try to understand what pollsters missed; we need to take seriously the questions raised by these significantly flawed polls and projections.