Wednesday, November 9, 2016

This Crazy Election Night

     It is election night, November 8, 2016.  I should be grading papers, but I just tuned in the coverage of the election.  My network of choice is MSNBC.  I am not even sure why I like them but it has become my TV news channel of choice starting with the ascent of Trump.  It should be noted that the morning crew, when I normally watch the network, has been pretty well pro-Clinton and anti-Trump. There was a bit of an entertainment factor in that the talking heads and pundits on this network were completely mystified by the popularity and populism of Trump.  Mika Brzezinski, in particular, was often... um... what's the word... discombobulated at the things Trump would say, do, and amazingly still gain in popularity.  
     It has been a crazy campaign.  In this age of polarization, the electorate has been equally polarized.  There seemed to have been three poles.  Those that love Clinton and abhor Trump, those that are ardent about Trump and detest Clinton, and finally there is the pole that cannot believe that Clinton and Trump are the best we can do.
     The polls?  They have shown Clinton leading almost the entire time since the conventions this past summer.  She blips up when Trump has the boorish things he is prone to say and tweet or when old videos were shown where he was shown to be a sexist pig.  The polling would get closer when Clinton's email would dominate the news.  Bottom line, the polls had everyone believing that Clinton was going to waltz into The White House.  
    The results thus far at 9:33 EST are showing a much much closer than expected.  The talking head and pundits are admitting they did not see this coming.   They are comparing this to Brexit and calling it the Brexit factor.
    I have been suspect of the polls for some time.  There are three reasons for this.  First, no one has been talking about the margin of error.  Going into election day, the polls got close, perhaps within the margin of error which would make the election a toss up.  Secondly, when polls were more accurate then they appear now, most polling was done by telephone.  With cell phones and caller ID, large numbers of people simply do not answer and hang up if they accidentally answer and realize it is a polling call, they simply hangup.  This means that pollsters have to work harder to get samples and work even harder to get good representative random samples.  That is clearly in play in this election.   Lastly, and I have been spouting this for the past week, there are a lot of Trump supporters that simply do not say they are for him.  Why would this be?  I am guessing that folks simply were a bit ashamed to admit they were voting for a candidate that said so many un-Presidential and boorish things.  Perhaps, the experts simply have underestimated just how large the disenfranchised segment of the population is.  They are sending the political establishment a message.  
     When the Great Recession hit on the eve of President Obama's election, I predicted we would come out of it more like a European country like England or maybe Italy than the America we were or thought we were.  I would say that is the case.  But, I never expected a populist candidate like Trump to have any chance.  In this regard, I did not see this coming.  I always thought populist candidates got elected in third world countries, not here.
     "No one has and advantage of information tonight.  There is a word for it, it is called a barnburner."  This is what I just heard on MSNBC.
     It is now 12:30 am EST.  Three key states are outstanding:  Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.  Trump, with 244, is within striking distance of the needed 270 electoral votes.  Clinton has 215.  
     The buzz on Facebook is all Clinton supporters somewhere between being worried for this country to just freaking out.  The Canadian website for providing information on immigrating there has... crashed.  Forbes just printed an article "Global Markets Plunge As Republican Donald Trump Gains A Path To U.S. Presidency."  After hour trading has been suspended in some exchanges because the markets have dropped 5% and thus triggering the automatic suspension of trading safeguards.  This is crazy... and he has not even won.
     There was a talking head, an academic one whose field of study is Presidential elections, on MSNBC.  He made a great observation.  When a party has held office for two terms, they rarely win the third.  It happened when Andrew Jackson was succeeded by Martin Van Buren.  The next time it happened was when George Bush, the elder, succeeded Ronald Reagan. 
     Earlier in the day, when I was thinking about this post.  I had the notion that Clinton would be elected.  The slant I was contemplating was that I would hope she would be a better president than people who didn't vote her might have expected.  I would have hoped she could have provided a level of leadership that would bridge the divisiveness that seems to be at a peak with this election.  Another talking head just said the following with regard to the people that voted for Trump:  This is not a rainbow coalition.  Many folks in both camps were simply elated that this election was ending today.  The basic notion was to put this behind us and move on.  If Trump wins, I think that the divisiveness will become even worse... if that is even possible.
      Probably another post looming when we learn who the President Elect is.