I understand that the victors often get to write the history, but the attempts to completely rewrite what happened this election will lead to everyone learning the wrong lessons.
I, and many others, predicted on countless occasions that Trump would lose. In fact, I would often point out that Hillary managed to find the one opponent who she could possibly beat. It turned out that she was such a bad candidate that she couldn’t even beat Trump. In fact, he had found the one opponent that he could beat. That doesn’t mean we weren’t shocked by Trump’s win, but it does mean that there are a lot of exaggerations about what the victory means.
First, just because we were wrong about Trump losing does not mean we were wrong about Trump. It doesn’t invalidate any of our criticism of Trump as a person or potential President. The fact that he won doesn’t mean he will suddenly be a good President, will keep his promises, or that concerns about how he will use/abuse his position are any less real.
Second, there is a lot of attempts to re-writing history on the polls. While the state polls were way off in several key states, the national polls in 2016 were actually more accurate than in 2012. Hillary will likely end up winning the popular vote (which is what polls attempt to predict) by ~1%. The polls near the end showed her up 3-4%.
Especially annoying is that people are now suggesting the LAT tracker poll, which was often dismissed for having a Trump bias, was somehow validated by the results. That actually ended up being one of the least accurate polls of the cycle.
In addition, suggesting that the results validated all “Trump will win” predictions and made “Trump will lose” predictions look foolish ignores that the race changed over time. The RNC data reportedly came pretty close to predicting the final outcome (Ex: On November 4th, the RNC data had Trump winning Michigan by .2%). That same data showed Trump way out of contention in October. At that time, the only battleground states within 3 points seemed to be Nevada and Georgia. A week after the Comey letter, there were 13 states within 3 points according to the RNC data. So when someone mocks tweets from October suggesting Trump was headed for a loss, they are ignoring that those tweets were very justified at the time.
It’s pretty clear that the Comey letter significantly changed the trajectory of the race. Of course the ultimate responsibility for that lies with Hillary Clinton for her actions and the Democrats for knowingly choosing to nominate someone that would be under FBI investigation. It also helped that Trump managed to stay out of the spotlight in the last few weeks of the campaign.
Thirdly, while Trump’s approach worked for him against the worst Dem nominee in history, there is little evidence it will work for other Republicans or against better opponents.
It will take months to analyze all of the data, but the overall conclusion right now seems to be that Hillary Clinton was so unpopular that she couldn’t get her votes to show up on election day. That doesn’t mean that Trump was popular, that his low favorability didn’t hurt him, or that his lack of a serious campaign didn’t leave a lot of votes on the table.
On a personal note, I am still proud of my #NeverTrump stance. I said throughout the campaign that a Trump presidency would take our country in the wrong direction and was a serious threat to our Republic. I still believe that. I hope that I am proven wrong, but the burden is on Donald Trump to do so. His speech on election night was a step in the right direction, but there are plenty of reasons to believe we will also see the reverse. Those cheering for the win might want to wait until they see exactly what they have won. Also, the real test begins now for Congressional politicians that ran on serving as a check on the President and the voters that said they were only supporting Trump as a lesser evil. They should have no qualms about criticizing Trump when he does things that are wrong or worthy of criticism.