WASHINGTON, November 9, 2016 — It’s past 1 a.m. on the East Coast, and the New York Times and NBC have yet to call the election for Donald Trump, but get used to it: President Trump.
At this point, it’s mathematically possible for Hillary Clinton to win, but that’s so improbable that if it occurs, Trump supporters will be justified in suspecting a rigged election.
With victories in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Trump “threaded the needle.” When the rust belt began going pink and red, live feeds from the Hillary Clinton celebration party at New York’s Jacob Javits Center showed the celebratory mood turning funereal.
By 8:30, Clinton’s 87 percent chance of winning the presidency had fallen to 50 percent on the New York Times’ live presidential forecast site. From then on, the night was red. Some of the red should have been the blood of pollsters.
Countless electrons are being spilt right now by pundits trying to explain how they got this election so wrong. At thousands of election parties around the country, women in pantsuits were preparing to pour champagne to celebrate the first woman U.S. President. The pollsters had convinced them and the pundits that this was a done deal.
Those parties have long since ended in bitter tears. If Trump supporters are unhappy, it’s because it’s too late for them to find a celebratory six pack or a bottle of good champagne.
I’m not prepared to explain where the predictions went wrong. It would be dishonest; I bought the predictions, and can’t with a straight face claim that I knew all along that there were problems with the polls. And at this hour of the morning, it’s too hard to make up an excuse.
Mea culpa. Stupid polls.
Suffice it to say, the expert class has shown, yet again, that it understands New York, Boston and San Francisco very well, but has no understanding at all of the hollowed out towns and cities of Appalachia and the rust belt. The New York Times-New Yorker-Harvard-D.C. Beltway combine had better stop its collective naval gazing and incestuous intellectual intercourse or it will become as irrelevant as it is distrusted.
This is a night for bitter tears and jubilation, both more deeply felt for being unexpected. Let us hope that tomorrow isn’t a day for Facebook bloodletting. It would be better now to patch up relationships, not terminate them.
My sympathies go out to my friends who mourn this result, and my congratulations to those who are jubilant. We’ll see whether Trump has it in him to be the great president his supporters hope for, or the horrific failure his detractors fear. We’ll see whether the country still has the will to unite, or whether the fires of populism kindled by Trump will burn unchecked across the political landscape.
Wisconsin has just been called for Trump. The Republicans control both houses of Congress. Obamacare is on the table and the Supreme Court will be remade. And life will go on.