As I watched the series of events unfold while watching MSNBC Tuesday evening and well into Wednesday morning, I continued to wonder, how did the pollsters get this so wrong about Donald Trump winning the presidential election?
Somehow, despite hours of sitting in my office chair watching the election, I knew that it was over pretty early. It was the way the states looked overall – lots of red. The biggest shock for me was part-way through when he took a lead in Pennsylvania and eventually pulled away for the win. Of course it was painstaking though, watching it happen in real time.
The question though, how were they so off? Why was he able to pull this victory from seemingly nowhere? It seemed to me that it was the white vote coming from rural counties. And, as I thought of this, it became apparent what he had done throughout his campaign. He and his campaigning posse would visit a multitude of rural counties, attract others from nearby, and tell them things they wanted to hear. I didn’t even notice it though until I thought of how it happened so easily.
He visited Wilmington. Now I enjoy the city myself, but why would a “billionaire,” with his extensive campaigning team, take the time to visit a place like Wilmington. I am assuming if they came just the first time they could see they had the vote here. A trip through our own county would be filled with Trump/Pence yard signs that even an intelligent man like Mr. Soon-To-Be-President Trump could make the connection that he has support. But it was never about the votes he couldn’t get, it was all about those he could.
Simply put, he needed white Americans – mostly male – to vote, and he would have a good chance at winning. He had to guarantee that each vote that could be, would be cast. So what the Hillary Clinton campaign took for lack of “groundwork” was actually Trump saving money by using his famous T.V. personality and friends with similar types of popularity. I mean Sarah Palin came to Fayette County absolutely last minute, after visiting a variety of places, with essentially one main message – vote.
What happened with Clinton’s campaign is she worked through groups. Lots of interaction with people on a more personal level, but more people know Trump and Palin from watching them on T.V. and branding than they would otherwise. He then traveled around to hold these rallies to make sure he told the people what they wanted to hear, let them see his famous face and make sure they voted for him. He used many levels of the media, including nearby and local papers, to get his message out. On top of that, those rallies attracted nearby young voters, again mostly white, who then helped to campaign for him with their friends and families.
The base information I have to go off of are maps of each state that detail how the individual counties voted at www.nytimes.com/elections/results/president. For reference I used 25 precincts as a base level for a county since that is the number here, and compared. What I found was that he was pulling out a bunch of smaller numbers but with fairly high margins. In Fayette County for instance, he had a margin of 46.1 percent against Clinton. While in Fayette County, Pa., he won by a margin of 31 percent in 80 precincts. In Missaukee County, Mich., he won by a margin of 52.4 percent in 17 precincts. In all of these places he garnered thousands of votes.
He won because he went for the population of the country that would usually not vote in these big numbers. Even for a presidential election, Fayette County had pretty high turnout numbers. The comment I heard often used by commentators of the election on MSNBC and a few times by Fayette County Board of Election poll workers was, “I saw a lot of new faces at the polls this year.” Comparison maps from past elections show that he flipped a lot of blue counties, meaning he got the red to get out and vote.
I don’t believe he really pulled a big upset. It seems he was so confident because of whoever was crunching numbers for him had hit on this goldmine of rural voters. This took the nation by surprise when he was able to pull the win, despite weeks of Clinton being ahead in the polls. He attracted people – as Democrats and others I know would probably agree – by his presence not his platform, and people that most pollsters might not have access too. I want to continue to look into rural county vote totals as the next few days unfold and the rest are counted.
But this information comes with a cost. I want you, as a Trump supporter or not, to hold him to his words or fight him adamantly. If you disagree with him over the next four years let others know – you can vote in new people to Congress in just two years. That will make sure his power is kept in check, because now he and the Republicans have control of Congress, the White House and very soon the U.S. Supreme Court.
If you voted for him, make sure he doesn’t screw you as bad as the last guy supposedly did by not keeping his promises. Don’t let him use the government credit card on actions that might end the country as we know it. I did not vote for him and if he is going to do a great job, fine, but if, and more likely when he doesn’t, you better be ready to deal with the consequences.
But to those who are disappointed in the entire election, remain hopeful, because one day it will be your turn to be heard. As long as you do not let defeat silence your tongues, then we have everything we need to win.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy