My friend Tony Paganelli wrote the following on Facebook, and I thought that it needs to be read widely, so with his permission, I am sharing it here.
I think of myself as a student of politics, but I was very wrong about yesterday. I read all the data. I studied polls. But how were the polls so wrong? I wanted to know, so I spent some time poring over numbers today to figure out what I’d missed.
Turns out the simplest solutions are often the right solutions. Hillary lost because Democrats stayed home. Full stop.
Maybe they got complacent because her polling numbers were so high. Maybe they didn’t like her and sat this one out. Maybe they voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or Bernie Sanders or Mickey Mouse. Maybe they were busy or maybe it rained. A scientifically conducted poll means nothing if the people it is sampling just stay home on Election Day.
There are lots of statistics that matter about voting trends of non-college-educated white women and so forth, but here’s the one statistic that really counts: Donald Trump won yesterday despite getting fewer votes than Mitt Romney got in 2012, and despite getting fewer votes than John McCain got in 2008. Both of them lost, but both of them would have easily beaten Hillary yesterday by more than Trump did. Plain and simple:
2008 Obama: 69.5m
2012 Obama: 65.9m
2012 Romney: 60.9m
2008 McCain: 59.9m
2016 Clinton: 59.1m
2016 Trump: 59m
So with all due respect to the stunning upset pulled by Donald Trump, he didn’t win the election. Hillary lost it. There was no wholesale switching of sides by Democrats who voted for Trump. There was no overwhelming tide of unseen or uncounted or unanticipated Republican voters coming out of the woodwork to carry Trump to victory. He did not lead a wave of new voters who put him over the top. In fact, he underperformed both McCain and Romney, both of whom were conventional Republican candidates.
Trump’s get-out-the-vote operation was as bad as everyone thought it was and he should have lost. But it didn’t matter because Hillary’s ground game apparently was just as bad, a fact made worse because the system disproportionally rewards the winners of the sparsely populated states where Trump’s rural voters live, who are far better represented in the electoral college than voters in big states with big cities that went for Hillary. A vote from Wyoming counts a lot more than a vote from California. (Thus, a popular victory and an electoral defeat.)You want to win elections? Get your people to the polls. Don’t boo, vote.