Donald Trump, the businessman and real estate mogul has clearly won the Presidency of the United States with an electoral vote count of around 305 to 233 over Hilary Clinton – a stunning victory that was certainly not predicted by anyone although some states had been pretty close in polling.
Trump’s Rust Belt strategy worked marvellously – he won Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and most probably Michigan by comfortable margins – Ohio was particularly crushing for Clinton who lost the state by almost ten percentage points.
Here are some key results:
Trump has upended not just the political world, but the polling industry, the media, prediction markets, the GOP and Democratic establishments and the entire geopolitical order by pulling off the most improbable win in US history.
The former reality TV star began his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “criminals”, and along the way insulted POWs, Muslims, African-Americans, women and many others. But his anti-trade, anti-immigrant, anti-globalisation, ethnonationalist message awoke a silent majority of white working class voters that he had long touted but which most pundits dismissed.
Hillary Clinton’s vaunted ground game and the blue wall of swing states that were supposed to protect her electoral college advantage – even the surge in the Latino vote that early voting had indicated – crumbled in the face of a Republican wave that swept the GOP into perhaps their most powerful position ever, with a firm grip on the House, Senate and the presidency. According to exit polls, she underperformed Barack Obama with white voters, black voters and Hispanic voters.
Over the next several days, we’ll cover some of the fallout from this earth-shattering development. For now, a few immediate questions, lessons, etc.:
- How can the pollsters ever show their faces again? They missed, early and often, over and over. For all the recent polling embarrassments, this one will be the king for a very long time.
- Beyond polling, every other “clue” that we have for predicting an election has been thrown into question. Unemployment is 4.9% The stock market is as high as it’s ever been. Obama’s approval rating is sky-high (by modern standards). The betting markets were wrong. The polling aggregators (including us) were wrong. The exit polls were wrong.
- Similarly, everything we thought we knew about campaigning was apparently in error. Conventions? Don’t matter. Debates? Don’t matter. Endorsements? Don’t matter. High-profile defections? Don’t matter. Missteps? Don’t matter? Commercials? Don’t matter. Ground game? Doesn’t matter. An All-Star team of campaign surrogates, including one former president, one sitting president, and a wildly popular first lady? Doesn’t matter. The “blue wall”? Not a thing.
- Could Hillary Clinton have run a better campaign? In retrospect, she probably should have invested more time and resources in the Rust Belt, but otherwise she ran the modern campaign playbook with great skill. There does not seem to be much more that she could have done.
- Does Trump appear to be headed for a disastrous presidency? Historical precedent says yes, and yet historical precedent was turned on its ear tonight. One obvious question: Exactly how badly would he have to mess up to lose his re-election bid?
- The GOP is going to get a nice, long run with its hands on the levers of power. The party has the White House for at least four years. The House is gerrymandered nine ways to Sunday, and the Senate map in 2018 is ghastly for the blue team, so they will have Congress for four years.
- What will Trump’s relationship with the GOP be like? Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) held him at arm’s length, he clashed with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) was nothing but disdainful, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) slammed Trump at his own convention. Meanwhile, there are going to be plenty of new officeholders who owe their jobs to Trump’s coattails.
- Are we really going to have an Attorney General Christie? Secretary of State Gingrich? Secretary of Homeland Security Rudy Giuliani?
- It will take a long time to unravel some of the mysteries of November 8. How, for example, did Donald Trump capture more Latino voters than Mitt Romney? How did nearly half of the non-college women vote for the man behind P***ygate? Was there really a Bradley effect, where people were lying about whom they planned to vote for? How can it be that only 37% of the population believes that Trump is qualified to be president, but roughly 50% voted for him?
- The new power brokers are, it would seem, white working class voters. Will Trump re-center the nation’s priorities on them? Can he? Many of those jobs that left are not coming back. Trump and Congress could change the laws to make it unprofitable for companies to do their manufacturing abroad (over the dead bodies of the GOP establishment and donors) but if those factories do come back, they will be modern factories employing 100 computer engineers, 100 mechanical engineers, 10,000 robots, and 0 blue-collar workers.
- On a related point, was this a bloodletting that the establishment needed? The Democrats have spent quite a few years focusing on the concerns of coastal elites and minorities at the expense of other constituencies. The Republicans have spent years obstructing, and waving shiny objects like gay marriage, while doing the bidding of the business wing of the party. Those who are disheartened tonight might hold out hope that Tuesday night’s stinging rebuke, which was directed at both Democrats and Republicans, will cause a reboot of some sort. Perhaps the nation can, one day in the not-too-distant future, get back to a place where compromise is possible and the filibuster is not the first card that Senators play.
- Russia is likely very happy tonight, Ukraine, China, and Mexico are not. Trump seems likely to make America’s relationship with the more difficult countries of the world (Iran, North Korea, etc.) worse. Meanwhile, will America’s traditional allies be able to work with The Donald? To take him seriously? Will America have any moral authority any more?
- What’s going to be first to go? Obamacare? The Paris Accords? NAFTA? NATO? Surely, PaddyPower will be taking bets soon.
- To those who may have thought we were living in a post-racial world, keep in mind that the KKK had their best night in 50 years. And, as CNN’s Van Jones pointed out, part of the story on Tuesday night was “whitelash.”
- Further, will we be able to have a national conversation about sexism? There can be little question that at least some of the opposition to Hillary Clinton was gender-based. Meanwhile, 50 million people have bestowed their vote on a man who, at very least, objectifies women in the coarsest of terms. And, at worst, who thinks nothing of sexually assaulting them.
- Whither the Democratic Party? Everyone thought 2020 would be a bitter struggle for the soul of the Republican Party, between the evangelicals, the mainstream Republicans, and the populists. Instead, it’s going to be a struggle for the soul of the blue team. Who will emerge victorious? The establishment Democrats, in the person of a Martin O’Malley or a Gov. Jay Nixon (D-MO). The progressives, with an Elizabeth Warren or a Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) or a Sen. Jeff Merkeley (D-OR) carrying the torch? Or maybe Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) carrying the establishment banner. Some other faction?
- What, exactly, is going to happen with the Trump University case? What happens if a sitting president is convicted of fraud? The GOP, if recent memory serves, has been pretty eager to impeach any president found guilty of such behavior.