Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Reeling in the Fears.....and a Yuuuuge Mea Culpa

Tom on the carnage...

First things first…my apologies not just for being wrong, but for offering such definitive words (and numbers) of reassurance over the course of the last few weeks.  There are few things in life that I was more certain of than a Clinton victory.  Many of you sent me fairly plaintive pleas for affirmation of that belief in the post-Comey period (and long before that as well) and, well, I was right there for you. 

Unfortunately, I was wrong.  And boy do I feel terrible about that.

More significantly, I am trying to grapple with the reality of a President Trump, and what it means about our citizenry, and the implications for so many incredibly significant issues, from the Supreme Court to the Middle East to women’s reproductive health to everyone’s health care to climate change and it goes on and on.  I’m failing in the grappling.  I cannot wrap my mind around this.

What happened?

I’m assuming the answer to “what went wrong with the polling” will be that most pollsters used incorrect assumptions in weighting various sub segments, with Trump’s supporters being undersampled or underweighted and the opposite for Clinton’s.  This, of course, is what Romney’s pollsters did wrong in 2012, when he was assured by them on Election Day that he was going to win.  The difference is that the public pollsters (and thus “aggregators” like Nate Silver and me) had it right in 2012.

Forgetting about the polls and comparing Clinton’s loss to Obama’s wins, I am assuming we will indeed find that Clinton was not able to energize her base and Trump was.  But one number that caught my eye on CNN’s exit polling was that Trump received 29% of the Latino vote, which was 2 points better than Romney.  A shocker.

But I will leave those analyses for others.  I’m taking time off from this gig!

A few items from last night, not that these matter much:

·         Clinton actually is ahead in the popular vote right now, by just over 200,000 votes, with 92% of the vote in.  Like Al Gore. 

·         Losing Florida was not a death blow, nor Ohio…she still had a strong path among the rest of the states I had called for her, at the time she was in trouble in Florida

·         Key to that path was holding onto Wisconsin, a “Blue Wall” state.  I kept on saying to all of you who emailed me that she needed to turn Wisconsin, and that the persistent 60,000-90,000 gap in votes was going to narrow when the final tally came in from the last precincts in Dem-strongholds Madison and Milwaukee.  Turns out it has indeed narrowed, to 27,000 votes with 5% of the precincts still out there.  But not quite enough -- every outlet has formally called Wisconsin for Trump.

·         Michigan was the other “must have” state if she was going to pull it off, another place she faced a significant gap but some late urban voting...and it is still not called -- but the gap there has indeed narrowed as well, from over 100,000 votes to a mere 13,000 right now, at 96%.

·         But what I did not see coming at all was Pennsylvania slipping away.  When that started happening – and I checked to see that there were no votes left in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh – that’s when I knew it was truly all over.

·         I have four states wrong thus far:  Florida and North Carolina, which I had by a point each, and then Pennsylvania (I had it at +3 for Clinton) and Wisconsin (which I had by 8 points!), a state Hillary Clinton never visited even once, so confident was her campaign team that it was solid.  New Hampshire and Michigan remain too close to call.

·         There was a time that a 269-269 scenario seemed plausible.  It was the last gasp on the assumption she lost Wisconsin.  If you take the 228 she has now, and give her the two states that are still not called (Michigan and New Hampshire) that gets her to 248….at the time she was still ahead in Pennsylvania (+20 for 268) and then she needed one of the Maine or Nebraska districts.  But then she lost Pennsylvania and that was that.  (And of course the House would have gone for Trump anyway in a tie.)

·         Don’t blame Jill Stein.  Her votes could have made a difference in Wisconsin, but not Pennsylvania, Florida or North Carolina.  Gary Johnson….not sure about his impact.  He was taking votes from both, though more from Clinton.

·         I had the Senate control call wrong, too….it is now 51-47 for the GOP, with two races (New Hampshire and the Louisiana run-off) still outstanding.  I called 30 out of 32 Senate race right (thus far), which is quite good given how many Toss-ups there were – but the Senate control hung in the balance of those two misses

·         I did better in the House.  The GOP has a 238-193 edge now with 4 races still to go, meaning the Dems are +5 and could go to +9.  I had them at +5.

·         I was only 7 out of 11 for the Governors with two still outstanding.  Too many close races with very little polling.

Anyway, I’m going to lose myself in the NBA for a while.

I want to thank all of you for your support of our site, and the political conversation that we carried on for two years around this campaign.  Every time we did a post, we would get numbers of emails back, from seemingly different people each time, and we would “chat” about what was going on.  I received countless links to interesting articles from many of you and several of you added me to your political lists.  It was a blast.

And we made some good calls along the way.  Just not the one that mattered!

Thank you also for the many kind words you found for me last night.  Under the circumstances, in particular, it was incredibly nice of you to think to cheer me up!

I’m not sure about the fate of the blog at this point, but I will probably do a post-mortem or two.  Then take a good long time off and contemplate the implications of being wrong on the nature of the exercise – and the time commitment!

Many thanks to Steve for his incredible assessments of debates, speeches and general state of the race.  He got it right!  And to Bob for his unflagging “tech support” – it was Bob who invented the blog by enabling it to begin with (without my knowledge, when he created the blog out of my emails to friends and family).  And to Wendy for reading nearly every word of every post in advance as the “editor in chief.” 

I’m sure the sun will come up tomorrow.  I just wish I was that certain about January 21st!

Thanks again!


  1. Hope means never having to saying you are sorry. Never, ever. Imagine if we did not have your insights, your rationale, your excitement, your educated mind!!! We would have been left with the alternative for all of those days...... all of those months..... In the face of what we all thought to be reality, to be sanity, to think that cooler minds would have, and could have, prevailed....There was no way for anyone to have predicted this outcome and that is why we are all stunned today. I will always err on the side of hope! After all, HRC did win the popular vote so maybe in the end you really did get it right!

  2. majority of dems felt dnc disenfranchised them out of the primary hence causing dem voting turnout to drop in key demographics, blacks, latinos, youth, low income and rural. dems simply had no reason to vote other than to prevent p grabber from becoming potus.

    the polls didn't get it wrong. they just didn't gauge whether they were motivated enough to turn out.

  3. Bernie Sanders would have won easily, he brought the change many middle class workers were looking for, Trump was the only viable choice against Clinton, in their eyes the lesser evil. Many independent voters who wanted to vote Bernie, couldn't because of closed primaries. If Democrats wanted to know truly who was the preferred candidate for all people, not just Dem-members, they should have made all primaries open. This needs to happen with the next elections.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. close primaries would prevent republicans from tampering with dem primary elections. however, the culprit this time wasn't republicans but DNC itself.

    here in california, we have closed primary but those who declared independent are eligible to vote in dem primary. i declared independent at first, but was only given a provisional ballot and initially not allowed to cast a regular vote.

    i then changed my declaration to dem (cringe) and still they sent me a provisional mail in ballot. i had to argue with dem voter (suppression) person at the booth to allow me to vote. that person, however, turned many independents away.


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