Let’s paint a not-unrealistic scenario. You’re an ordinary American, someone who used to be called a ‘working stiff.’
While you are not a news junkie, you read and watch enough to know what’s going on. And you find Donald Trump very, very appealing. Maybe it’s his brusque demeanor, his refusal to kowtow to media swells, or his promises about restoring the economy and our nation.
But for more than a year, ever since Trump took that fateful escalator ride, you’ve been hearing nothing but awful things about the man. He is a racist, a woman-hating reprobate, a business cheat, a tax evader, a xenophobe, and a whole lot more.
And not only is Trump as despicable as they come, but all his voters just as bad. Heck, you might even call them downright deplorable. They must be, otherwise they wouldn’t be supporting such a hateful man.
Yes, that Trump Train is crammed with awful people, and you’re one of ’em.
Then you notice that entertainers vowing to leave the country – leave the country!! – if this heinous clown is elected. Bryan Cranston, Samuel L. Jackson, Barbra Streisand, and others say they’ll pack their bags. As for Cher, merely moving out of the country isn’t sufficient; she promise to go to Jupiter (Cher, that’s the big one without the rings.) And when Miley Cyrus and Lena Dunham join the USA-exiting crowd, tattoo artists start worrying about their livelihoods.
So, that’s the background in which you reside. And then, in the middle of all this, you get a call from the Acme Polling and Research Center. You know, the firm with that catchy slogan: ‘Better Early Than Right!’ The guy on the phone asks whether you’ll be voting and for whom. What in the world are you going to say? Will you risk the pollster’s unspoken ridicule by admitting you’re voting for Trump? Or will you say you’re with her?
That scenario, embellished only slightly, has played out often over the past year. The media, mostly left-wing, largely corrupt, and almost exclusively anti-Trump, proudly cast aside any facade of objectivity. Their goal was to defeat the billionaire. More than that, he had to be utterly destroyed!
Trump certainly provided ammunition to his ink-stained enemies, but they didn’t need much. Anything he said that was even slightly dubious was turned into something beyond the pale. And then, when he was caught on tape making truly despicable remarks, the media finally possessed the nuclear weapon they felt would vaporize him and his candidacy. Or so they hoped.
So you can understand why a Trump voter might be reluctant to admit his or her preference, especially when questioned by an anonymous interrogator. But couldn’t the pollsters figure this out? Was it really that difficult to understand?
Just two years after blowing the 2014 midterms big time, most polling outfits outdid themselves when it came to incompetence. On Monday, the day before the election, the Monmouth Poll and NBC News had Clinton ahead by six points. ABC, CBS, and Fox gave her a four point advantage. The much-cited RealClearPolitics average had Hillary Clinton ahead by more than three points, a decisive lead.
The most accurate pollster, for the second cycle in a row, was the unwieldly-named Investors Business Daily/TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence. IBD/TIPP predicted a tight race and gave Donald Trump a slight lead in the final days. Its analytics measured the enthusiasm of Trump voters, a novel idea, and discovered that independents were breaking for the billionaire.
Statistical guru Nate Silver also did pretty well, enduring widespread ridicule and giving Trump a 35% chance of winning. But other pollsters, including most in battleground states, resembled the Chicago Cubs. Pre-2016.
Pollsters weren’t the only big losers. Many journalists, or ‘journalists,’ came out smelling more like fertilizer than roses. WikiLeaks revealed that CNBC’s smug and smarmy John Harwood, who was actually selected to moderate a Republican primary debate, had been getting marching orders from Clinton campaign boss John Podesta. Politico’s Glenn Thrush did the same, and of course Donna Brazile – then with CNN – passed debate questions to the Clinton team in advance.
So many losers, so little time. But who were the winners, other than the hypothetical silent voter described above? The entire Trump team defied the odds and the experts, re-writing the manual for how to run a presidential campaign. Also, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama gave gracious day-after statements, promising to work for the good of the country.
But political peace may be elusive when there are scores of nasty left-wingers like radio host Garrison Keillor. The day after the election he described Donald Trump as a ‘severely learning-disabled man,’ while demeaning Trump’s voters as ‘uneducated white males.’ While it’s true that some Trump voters may qualify as ‘uneducated’ in his world view, Keillor unwittingly identified himself as an especially stupid white male.
Donald Trump has done what many deemed absolutely, positively impossible. His supporters are jubilant. His detractors are despondent, occasionally livid. And now the hard work actually begins. The country has elected someone they believe can solve problems, and problems are one area where the USA has a surplus.
Good luck, Mr. Trump. And Godspeed.