Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!
Monday, November 14th, 2016 @ 12:00PM
The descriptors are piling up: historic, impossible, unexpected, unprecedented, unlikely, unheard of, never before seen, a movement, a mandate, a ground-swell, a torrent, a tsunami, a tidal wave…however one describes Donald J. Trump’s defeat of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, it was, above all things, a surprise, a very BIG surprise…well, for many, at least.
There were a few, myself included, who actually believed all along that Trump had a chance. In fact, each time I heard political pundits and media types state emphatically that the election was “over” before it had even occurred, I wondered upon what facts, exactly, these prognostications were based. Polls, maybe? “Polls, shmolls,” I thought to myself. Everybody (well, most people, at least) knows that polls are only as accurate as those designing the polling methods are honest – even supposedly well-respected national polling organizations with reputations to protect are known to design polls that skew data in a light favorable to those funding the polls. Why? Human nature, of course – people, in general, don’t like bad news. When people pay for a poll and the results, in their estimation, are bad news, they are less likely to pay for additional polls. Because polling firms exist to earn a profit, the subtle impetus is to encourage people to continue purchasing polls. There is no better way to succeed in this regard than to give people what they want – good news. And good news is exactly what the Clinton campaign wanted, so much so, that they were unwittingly willing to pay for it.
On the other hand, the Trump campaign was generating its own good news by responding to the wishes of a huge segment of the electorate that has, for many years, felt neglected and ignored. In so doing, Trump was able to generate his own press which, in the 2016 election, proved to be beneficial, regardless of whether or not the coverage was positive or negative. Trump, through clever manipulation of the media, capitalized to the fullest on the old maxim, “There’s no such thing as bad press.”
Another early and obvious indicator was the success of Trump rallies across the nation. I attended just such a rally at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia in February. Although we arrived early, the parking lots were already filled, and the line to the auditorium was estimated at over a quarter mile long. When we finally entered the building almost two hours later, it was standing room only, literally. We were among the last to be allowed inside before the fire marshal declared the crowd at capacity. Inside, standing shoulder to shoulder, were 7,500 Trump supporters. Loud speakers had been set up outside the building for the remaining crowd, estimated at 12,500. Though I had been to several political rallies during past elections, I had never seen anything to match either the size of the crowds or the level of enthusiasm. It was truly amazing.
Yet another early and obvious indicator was the black vote. When I heard that national polling firms were modeling their polls based upon historical black voter turn-out from the 2008 and 2012 elections, I knew Trump had a chance. Why? It was a no-brainer, really. Anyone who believed that blacks would support Hillary Clinton for president with the same enthusiasm as they had supported Obama for president was guilty of the all-too-human tendency toward wishful thinking – that is, believing what one wishes to be true rather than what is actually true. And any polling firm that utilized black voter turn-out data from the elections of America’s first black president to project future black voter turn-out for America’s first female president who happened to be white, is guilty of polling malpractice in my opinion.
Still another early, yet not so obvious, indicator that Trump might possibly beat Clinton was the left-leaning, mainstream media’s rabid obsession with helping her win and helping him lose. Liberal media polls routinely and notoriously over-sampled Democrats in an effort to skew polling results in Clinton’s favor (the Los Angeles Times poll was one of the very few liberal newspaper polls that actually reflected a Trump lead suggesting that poll was more accurately modeled and conducted). This purposeful oversampling of Democrats, designed to, in effect, fudge the data, led to a false narrative that Clinton had the election in the bag. The result was that the press began to believe its own press and eventually they, along with members of the Clinton campaign and millions of Democrats across the country became complacent. That very complacency allowed Trump, the great showman, to do what he does best – steal the show.
When I was in the 6th grade, our language arts teacher, Mrs. McDaniel, took great pleasure in announcing an unexpected quiz by entering the classroom shouting, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!” For those students behind in their homework, her refrain sent shock waves through their bodies. On the morning of November 8, 2016, Democrats across the nation, lulled to complacency by the liberal media’s false narrative, gleefully ventured down a primrose path to an expected Clinton victory. After all, they had been told it was in the bag. Regrettably for them, later that evening, the collective voice of the American electorate entered their world and shouted the refrain, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!” sending shock waves through the Left. And the rest was history.