Not So Inevitable After All


The 2016 presidential election is in the books and the mainstream polls – as they did during the “Brexit” vote in the United Kingdom – wildly missed the mark.

Republican nominee Donald Trump won the presidency with victories in several states that appeared to be locks for Democrat Hillary Clinton heading into the election.

The biggest shocker of the night?  Wisconsin – a state that hadn’t voted Republican since Ronald Reagan‘s reelection in 1984.   On the day of the election, aggregate polling data from RealClearPolitics showed Clinton winning the state by a comfortable six-percent margin.

Meanwhile the website gave Trump only a 16.5 percent chance of winning the state.

In fact the pollsters were so confident Clinton would win America’s dairyland that Wisconsin wasn’t even included among the website’s fourteen “battleground” states.

Who could blame them for their skepticism?  After all, Obama won Wisconsin by seven points in 2012 (after winning it by fourteen points in 2008).

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, though, Trump won the state by more than 25,000 votes – a stunning upset that helped catapult him to an improbable Electoral College victory.

Another huge upset?  Michigan.  Polls showed Clinton winning the Wolverine State by 3.4 percentage points – yet with 99 percent of precincts reporting Trump enjoyed a 16,000-vote lead.  Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, Trump won by nearly 68,000 votes – despite polls showing him trailing Clinton by two percent on Election Day.

In addition to capturing multiple states he was supposed to lose, Trump won the battleground states where polls gave him narrow margins.

In Florida, Trump entered Election Day with a 0.6 percent advantage.  He wound up winning Florida by nearly 130,000 votes.  Meanwhile in North Carolina Trump prevailed by nearly 180,000 votes – a four-point margin despite polls showing him up by just one percent.  And in Ohio, Trump won by 455,000 votes – a six-point margin despite polls showing him up by just three percent.

We’ll have much more on where (and how) Trump pulled off his remarkable victory – not to mention where (and how) the polls underestimated his true support.