The Corner

Politics & Policy

Here’s One Thing I Got Really Wrong

If you had told me on Monday that with 99 percent of precincts reporting that Donald Trump would be well short of Mitt Romney’s popular vote, slightly short of McCain’s in 2008, and short of Obama’s winning 2012 vote totals in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, and Ohio, I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised. I long thought Trump wasn’t expanding the map. I didn’t believe he was bringing significant numbers of new voters to the GOP. All his poll movement was GOP voters coming home, and GOP voters coming home wouldn’t win the White House.

Here’s the thing that I got really and truly wrong, the thing that I missed completely. I had no idea that the Democratic party was so thoroughly alienating its own voters. Hillary will likely end up with almost 10 million fewer votes than Obama in 2008. She’ll end up with almost six million fewer votes than Obama in 2012. Those voters didn’t move to the GOP. People just stayed home. Given our growing population and the enormous media interest in this campaign, those numbers are simply astounding. The Democrats alienated roughly 14 percent of their 2008 voting base. 

Yes, I know those numbers will change ever-so-slightly as the remaining one percent of outstanding votes trickles in, but while I knew that the Democratic party had internal problems, I had no idea of the extent of those problems. While I knew that Hillary Clinton was a bad candidate, I had no idea how bad. It turns out that the GOP is more functional and united than the Democrats. I clearly had my problems with the degree of GOP unity (I was aghast at the lockstep support for a man I believed to be morally, temperamentally, and ideologically unfit), that unity was a fact, and it gave Trump enough of a base to win. 

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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