Early Observations from Election 2016


Now that we’re all beginning to recover from one of the most contentious and vicious election seasons I have ever experienced, I wanted to take a moment to share some of the thoughts that have been and remain on my mind in the days and weeks following Election Day.

The other motivation for this is that I was kindly invited to speak at the November 19, 2016 League of Women Voters meeting in Jackson, Mississippi to provide some analysis regarding the 2016 election cycle and the outcomes. Because there are still so many lingering questions, I decided to create a list of my main observations and considerations time to use as the starting point for a discussion that morning. I wanted to share that list with all of you and invite your feedback either here on this page or via email at nathan@nathanshrader.com.

1) Many pundits, professionals, and forecasters clearly got it wrong. This obviously pertains to those who are prognosticators like Nate Silver who gave Clinton a 68% chance of winning and Nate Cohn who had her chances at about 85% as late as the day before the election. Maybe it is time to reevaluate our commitment to that approach? Let’s allow the voters to do what they do before we try to convince people that a preconceived result exists. Meanwhile, I would argue that political scientists would better serve the public by being able to explain what happened and why instead of engaging in the development of tedious predictive models.

2) Trump won the race in the upper Midwest and the Rust Belt by carrying traditional Democratic strongholds like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. He also over-performed prior GOP nominees in Ohio and Iowa. The margins of victory Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Florida, and Pennsylvania point to those states as being the real battlegrounds for 2020. How can the Democratic and Republican Parties best respond to the interests of voters in those states? Likewise, how many of the 13 or so “swing states” from 2016 will actually battle grounds moving forward?

3) Given that they will not have control of the House (240 to 194) or Senate (51 to 48, maybe 52 to 48), the GOP is going to have to deliver results rather than agitate from the sidelines. Are they capable of this given the philosophical divisions between the small government conservatives like Paul Ryan, the big Keep reading...

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