Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Actually, the Pollsters Got it Largely Right

Miracle man

Do not misunderstand what you are about to read. I am ecstatic that Donald Trump won. I probably woke the whole condo building up with my 2:30 AM "woo-hoo!"s. A Hillary Clinton victory would have been a disaster for the good people of this country (and the good people of many other countries). Conversely, I think Trump will make a fine president. And I believe he's our best shot at curing us from eight years of Obama as well as the political correctness now pressing down on us like a boot.

However, some sober analysis is in order. (Like I should talk. I woke up this morning with one of the biggest hangovers of my adult life.)

One of the headlines on Drudge claims:
Pollsters suffer biggest embarrassment in history
It's true that the Trump victory embarrassed many. It also surprised many (including me).

But the polls in the final days were actually pretty accurate.

On the eve of the election, the Real Clear Politics poll averages put Clinton ahead in the popular vote by 2.6%. She ended up winning the popular vote (probably - it was so close that this may not be confirmed for weeks) by perhaps .1%. Coming within 2.5% isn't bad for a poll, or an average of polls. It certainly isn't embarrassing.

Ironically, the polls that had Clinton winning the popular vote were actually closer to the actual margin than the most famous poll to have predicted the Trump victory. (The "pro-Clinton" polls were 3.6% off - the LA Times/USC Tracking poll was 5% off).

Two days ago, I posted a Real Clear Politics electoral map based on who was favored in the state polls. The map put Clinton ahead by 6 delegates, meaning that Trump had to "flip" at least one state.

He ended up flipping three (probably - Michigan might still flip back), and Clinton might have flipped one herself (Arizona, which still hasn't been called). So the polls were right in 46 to 48 out of 50 states. Two out of the three states Trump flipped - Michigan and Pennsylvania - were very close anyway and Trump won them by narrow margins - 13,000 votes (if that holds) in Michigan and 68,000 in Pennsylvania.

The big surprise was Wisconsin, where Clinton was supposed to win by 6 points. Trump ended up beating her by 27,000 votes. Okay, maybe the Wisconsin pollsters should feel embarrassed.

The fact of the Trump victory is of course massive. But do not misunderstand what happened. There was no landslide. No sea change. The demographic realities still make it very difficult for a Republican to win a national election. This was the sixth of the last seven elections where the Republicans lost the popular vote.

A Trump re-election effort in 2020 will probably be even more of a challenge.

Trump had to run the tables. He did it, of course. But for all the credit Trump and his team deserve for putting him in a position where he even had an opportunity to run the tables, to me, the win has more of the character of a lucky break.

Or, if you prefer, a miracle.


  1. Oh Oakes, you're such a Truther! But that's why you're so good for us.

    1. Ha! Thanks (I think), Sandpiper! I really appreciate that.

  2. In fairness, Democrats have lost the popular vote in 5 of the last 7 elections.

    It's been a closely divided electorate since the end of the Cold War,and third parties have figured significantly in a few of those elections, making it a challenge for either party to clear 50% regularly.

    1. Not sure I understand. You mean didn't get a majority of the total vote (including 3rd parties)? In fairness to the Democrats, with robust 3rd parties that's a tall order for either major party.

      My claim was based on this: The Dems beat the GOP in the popular vote for all of their recent wins (Clinton, Clinton, Obama, Obama) and 2 out of 3 of their recent losses (Bush 2000 and Trump 2016).

  3. Agree. It WAS a miracle--prayed for, but a bona fide miracle.

  4. Polls being something of a toss-up Trump won due to negative (for Hillary) and positive (for Trump) turnout. The enthusiasm factor is key.

  5. This was TRULY a MIRACLE!!! I am owing it all to the intervention of Our Blessed Mother and her MIRACULOUS ROSARY!!

  6. That aside, the republicans can legally change the electoral college distribution of votes so the dems will prolly never win again.

    I'll go chase down the link to the way it can be done but thy are prolly too sissy to do it.

    Republicans are cucks who like to win and then concede to their moral enemies

  7. The pollsters we're far off but that's another story.

    Here is the link to information I am sure Trump has and, hopefully, plans to act on

    If the repcuckian party does not take this action they are idjits

  8. Eh, you may be right about the pollsters (not invested enough in the claim to do much research on it myself), but three points:

    1) One counterexample does not refute a claim backed by many when the claim is not absolute.

    2) Claim is weaker than you say. Where you said "biggest embarrassment in decades," both the link and the actual headline merely say "huge embarrassment." Much harder claim to refute.

    3) Claims of pollsters errors are, I think, largely because the vast majority of them were predicting a Hillary win, some by ludicrous margins (William M. Briggs, in his own article on the subject, mentions an LA Times poll on the 6th that had Clinton getting 352 electoral votes, more than half again what she actually got). The claim has, I think, less to do with the margins by which they were wrong and more to do with the fact that so many were wrong, and that they generally weren't even acting like it would be close.

    Also, miracle is probably too strong a word. A number of intelligent, albeit frequently controversial, guys called this one for Trump months ago, including not only Briggs, but also prominent alt-right types like Cernovich and Vox Day. My own opinion was largely in line with what Zippy said back in February: "Folks who think he can’t win are, I think, stuck in the past and do not understand the society in which we live. I don’t predict a win, mind you, but the notion that the Trump cannot win is just ridiculous."

  9. The Hillary-ahead-polls vs. pictures of Trump's massive rallies was enough to make me mad.

    Then there was President Obama, without correcting an interviewer's presumption that illegal immigrants are citizens, continued to urge "citizens" to vote. That, too, was confusing and made me madder.

    By the time Assange said Trump would "not be allowed" to win, I was maddest and despondent.

    So pray, I did. I did not pray as much for Trump as for his promise to nominate Supreme Court justices who will be conservative, pro-life, and will defend the Constitution instead of rule from the bench.

    The ultimate weapons against a Democrat plan to subvert the Church: A few weekday Masses in addition to the Sunday ones, Eucharistic adorations, Rosary after Rosary after Rosary. A novena to Christ the King (in my case, the Infant of Prague King.)

    We won. We fought with the prescribed weapons. God heard our prayers. It's a miracle.