Days of Change

Flukes R Us | November 27, 2016

Donald Trump’s victory was a fluke.

In 2008, Barack Obama beat John McCain hard. Obama won by over 5% of the vote with 69.5 million ballots casts and had a nearly 200 Electoral Vote margin. The popular theory is that McCain ran a bad campaign. What really killed him was that his own baggage was added to the baggage of George W. Bush’s unpopularity and the fact no one knew what an Obama was.

For his part, Bush’s victory was a kind of Phoenix rising from the ashes. Last minute October surprises coupled with the media calling Florida before the Panhandle polls closed nearly lost the state and the election. Bush would go on to win reelection with an additional 12 million voters supporting him. Obama lost 3.5 million voters between 2008 and 2012. Hillary Clinton is within 1.3 million votes of Obama’s 2012 total.

There are 5 states this year where the popular vote margin between Trump and Clinton was less than 1.5%. Not only is that below the margin of error, it is below the precision an opinion poll could have. The mistake most media outlets made was to ignore the margin or error and give states to Clinton with 2-3% leads.

At the same time, Trump and Kellyanne Conway should refrain from breaking their arms trying to pat themselves on the back. They only knew that they could win. The people who “knew” that Trump winning was a certainty were prognosticators who deluded themselves with confirmation bias. Congratulations, you were accidentally correct.

It might have been a happy accident, but a new Trump administration is going to have to do some work. Obama proved that you can do things with a single party with enough blind devotion and a majority. However, Trump’s Republican colleagues are not nearly as obedient. Even if they won’t openly defy him, they can tie his agenda in legislative knots. Trump makes big deals, but for every chain of Trump hotels, there’s a failed airline or that $900 million debt.

Is it better to be lucky or good? Right now, lucky is winning.

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