From the post-Election Morning Jolt, trying to summarize one of the most stunning nights (and mornings!) in American political history . . .
Congratulations, President-Elect Donald Trump.
Let’s begin with the obvious: I did not see that coming. Heading into last night, I said yes, Trump had a path, but he needed the ball to bounce his way in a bunch of states simultaneously, and the ball never bounces the right way for a Republican candidate in state after state. That assessment was completely wrong; Trump was in a much stronger position than he appeared to be in all along.
Everything I wrote yesterday about the polls generally being right most of the time is now inoperative. Pollsters have had off years before, but there has never been a colossal ten-car pile-up like this in the polling industry. The entire industry needs to scrap everything they know about the electorate and start over. One of the giant questions they must address is whether we now live in an atmosphere of such far-reaching and stifling social disapproval of politically incorrect positions that a significant portion of respondents no longer feel comfortable expressing their actual beliefs to a pollster.
There really was a silent majority.
It turns out the Republican National Committee really can run a get-out-the-vote operation. Reince Priebus, who appeared to be on the verge of being the chairman who presided over the Republicans’ worst defeats ever, is the man who ran the shop as the party enjoyed one of its biggest and most consequential comeback in history.
Hillary Clinton’s multitudes of state offices didn’t amount to a hill of beans. Clearly, her team was as blindsided as anyone else. All those data metrics, all those surveys, all that technology . . . In the end, all of that didn’t help her win a race where she was the front-runner all along. What’s more, none of that stuff gave her a clue that she was losing it. There has been a real Cult of Data built in the world of political campaigns, and I’ve genuflected a time or two to the idea that everything can be quantified, measured and calculated. Maybe gut feelings matter.
Heck, maybe crowd size is a more meaningful measurement of a candidate’s momentum than we thought. Heck, maybe yard signs are significant.
Like Jonah and Charles, I stand by my past assessment and criticism of Trump, but acknowledge he has pulled off a stunning victory, the biggest upset in American political history. He’s earned a fresh assessment, a reevaluation. He’s the president-elect now. He’s stepping into an awesome responsibility, and now all of us have to root for his ability to tackle the country’s problems and, yes, make America great again.
My friend Cam Edwards is a lot more Trump-friendly than I am. We talked before yesterday’s show and we concurred that a Trump victory would be a genuine shock to the system that might just spur changes in the right direction. All of the groups and forces allied with the Left and largely thriving in Obama’s America — Silicon Valley, the media, academia — would have to stop and look hard at the rest of the country and its problems. And they wouldn’t be able to ignore it or sneer at the rest of the country as being uneducated, unwashed, racist, sexist, backward, and destined to wither away. Identity politics turns America’s e pluribus unum into the Balkans. If you want to build a better America, you have to see everybody as part of it, not just the parts that agree with you politically.
Give Trump credit, in the wee early hours of Wednesday morning, he hit all the right notes. He was gracious to Hillary Clinton in defeat, generous and magnanimous. He offered an agenda that should appeal across the aisle:
It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me.
For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people . . .
. . . I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.
. . . Every single American will have the opportunity to realize his or her fullest potential. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.
We will also finally take care of our great veterans.
Back in August, I offered the counterintuitive theory that the Right was winning the culture wars in 2016, that the hard Left had bitten off way more than it can chew and was crumbling before a backlash: transgender bathrooms, celebrating Catilyn Jenner and policing the pronouns people use, college alumni donations down, the end of Gawker . . . now we can add in a giant, sweeping victory for Republicans of all stripes to the list.