A few weeks ago, I traveled to Wisconsin and spoke about the campaign. I told the audience that there were only two scenarios where I could envision a Donald Trump win: The first was a huge October surprise, and the second was Donald Trump stringing together a couple of weeks without going off script. Amazingly, both came to fruition. Trump closed the election in arguably his strongest position of the entire campaign.
First, everyone is rightly talking about turnout of working-class white voters, but I think one of the most arresting and less-obvious lessons we learned is how important President Obama was as a cult of personality. It was always clear that his popularity wasn’t transferrable in midterm elections, but this was the first test of whether the world had changed during his tenure. Could Democrats count on a colossal turnout of millennials, African Americans, and Hispanics, no matter who was at the top of the ticket? We may have our answer.
Second, there are obviously inherent problems with polls. Pollsters make assumptions about turnout, and if they get those assumptions wrong, all the extrapolated findings are flawed. The problem is that polls drive news cycles and elite opinion. If Americans are losing trust in our institutions and elites, this is perhaps a microcosm of that trend. We need to take poll results with a grain of salt.
Lastly, Trump’s victory obviously puts me in an interesting situation. Technically, it proves the title of my book, Too Dumb To Fail, right. And while my campaign predictions were much more accurate than most commentators (I had Hillary winning narrowly), I’m still a conservative commentator who didn’t vote for the Republican who just won the presidency. It feels more than a little unsettling.
Still, I never opposed Trump because I feared he would lose; I opposed him for philosophical and temperamental reasons. Additionally, I still believe that the long-term demographic ramifications of this apparent reordering of the GOP will have long-term negative consequences, despite the short-term political benefits. But that’s for another day.
I will have much more to say about this in the days and weeks to come. For now, Donald Trump is the president-elect, and I think we should offer him our prayers and best wishes. I intend to serve as a loyal opposition, of sorts. I will praise him when he’s right and criticize him when he’s wrong. Basically, the exact same thing I would do had Hillary Clinton won.