The Corner

Politics & Policy

Political Science and the Election — Part 2

So I was wrong because most of the polls were wrong. And I admit that I’ve underestimated Trump at every turn. He’s prevailed against the whole of country’s respectable establishment united against him.

Donald Trump has probably won 304 electoral votes — a decisive margin of 70. He won a number of key states close. Two of them — Michigan and Wisconsin — weren’t even widely regarded as battleground states. None of his victories, however, is precarious enough to trigger a recount.

Meanwhile, when all the votes are counted, Hillary Clinton will likely have a narrow lead in the popular vote. Her overall margin might somewhat less than half of the one she will have in the single huge state of California. That means over a million votes.

What I feared would happen — but thought unlikely — has almost surely happened. Trump has been elected president without the popular mandate that comes when the outcomes of the electoral vote and popular vote coincide.

My fear is that this ambivalent (but not in a constitutional sense) result will convulse the country in unpredictable and dangerous ways. The best thing we can all do is accept the result and do what we can to help our country live well with it. God help Donald Trump. He needs all the help he can get, given the circumstances that have brought him to power.

I’m as shocked as the next guy that we will soon have President Trump. I will have a hard time taking him seriously, but I will try. And I will respect the choice of the Trump voters and learn from their concerns, many of which have been unjustly neglected by both of our political parties. I hope Trump will be worthy of those who have put their hope in him.

I heard some commentator say tonight that we should acknowledge that some of the Democrats have been plagued by self-satisfied elitism and some of the Trump supporters by bigotry. Still, most ordinary people on both sides are decent men and women struggling to live responsible and dignified lives. Not only that, the Republicans have their share of elitists and Democrats their bigots. Bigotry takes many forms.

It’s too optimistic (and sappy) to conclude with let the healing begin. But I will note that Trump’s speech just now was both conversational and rather classy.

Peter Augustine LawlerPeter Augustine Lawler is Dana Professor of Government at Berry College. He is executive editor of the acclaimed scholarly quarterly Perspectives on Political Science and served on President George ...