Monday, April 17, 2017

Six pundits and one poll that got the election right and what they've said since - seriously & literally.

 They got it right. 
Let's get this out of the way: The Dividist got the 2016 Presidential election wrong. It is not unexpected for the Dividist to advocate for a continuing divided government state and vote. That is, after all, the raison d'etre for this blog. But the Dividist went beyond advocacy in 2016. We confidently predicted that we would continue to see a divided government in 2017 and into the foreseeable future. The Dividist even considered declaring victory and shuttering this blog post-election. We fantasized about triumphantly proclaiming "Our job here is done".  Yeah, that didn't happen. We now have One Party Republican Rule, a Unified Government and the Dividist has work to do.

With the passage of time, and with judicious use of Third Person Plural, the Dividist has created enough distance from the election to get back to work and begin posting again.

Misery loves company. Company is comforting. Who else got it wrong? Besides the Dividist, pretty much everybody:

 They got it wrong. 

The reader may recall that in the closing days of the election the most respected polling analysts in the country were fighting flame wars over whether Clinton had a 71%, 85% or 99% chance of being our next President. In case you didn't notice, she finished with a 0% chance of becoming President. We'll let Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball represent all the failed pundits, pollsters and prognosticators with this straightforward Mea Maxima Culpa:
"We heard for months from many of you, saying that we were underestimating the size of a potential hidden Trump vote and his ability to win. We didn’t believe it, and we were wrong. The Crystal Ball is shattered. We’ll pick up the pieces starting next week as we try to unpack what happened in this election, where there was so much dramatic change from just four years ago. We have a lot to learn, and we must make sure the Crystal Ball never has another year like this. This team expects more of itself, and we apologize to our readers for our errors."
Credit where it is due. Not everybody got it wrong. There were more than a few voices from across the political spectrum that saw the writing on the wall. Those of us who "knew" Trump was going to lose either dismissed or laughed at them when we should have listened. So let us listen to a few notables who got it right. Let's listen to what they said before the election and what they've said since.

*** The USC LA Times Poll Got It Right ***

One poll in particular stood out. The USC Dornsife / LA Times Poll got it right. As David Lauter of the LA Times explained in an election post-mortem:
"It was the only major public survey that consistently showed Donald Trump winning. As a result, it drew frequent and loud denunciations from many Democrats, especially as election day neared and passions rose. But on Wednesday, as many other pollsters struggled to explain why their surveys seemed blind to Trump’s support, Kapteyn and his colleagues were among the few who could say their work got the basic issue right."
Arie Kapteyn is the creator of that poll, and even he did not believe the numbers:
Kapteyn had predicted that “Clinton is going to win, but I think it’s going to be a lot tighter than people think,” he recalled. That prediction, he said, highlighted the problem with most efforts at political analysis.  “When you look at pundits and their predictions, the correlation is zero” between what they forecast and how things actually turn out, he said, citing work done by Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Prize-winning behavioral economist. 
“You have to trust the numbers,” he said. “Don’t get distracted by all the things you think about plausibility.” “What you think personally doesn’t matter,” he added. “I thought Clinton would win. But that shouldn’t change the numbers.”
What you think personally doesn't matter. Trust the numbers. Pundits get it wrong. Words to live by. Still... There were some pundits who trusted their gut, and got it right.

*** Scott Adams Got It Right  ***

Scott Adams - Dilbert cartoonist and student of human nature predicted Trump would win on August 13, 2015:
"If you’re keeping score, in the past month Trump has bitch-slapped the entire Republican Party, redefined our expectations of politics, focused the national discussion on immigration, proposed the only new idea for handling ISIS, and taken functional control of FOX News. And I don’t think he put much effort into it. Imagine what he could do if he gave up golf. As far as I can tell, Trump’s “crazy talk” is always in the correct direction for a skilled persuader. When Trump sets an “anchor” in your mind, it is never random. And it seems to work every time. Now that Trump owns FOX, and I see how well his anchor trick works with the public, I’m going to predict he will be our next president. I think he will move to the center on social issues (already happening) and win against Clinton in a tight election."
And this is what Scott Adams is saying now April 12, 2017:
"This has been a good week for President Trump. So far, we have seen:
  1. Sean Spicer (accidentally?) caused the opposition media to argue that Hitler analogies are ridiculous. 
  2. The Syrian attack established Trump as a measured and decisive leader. His popularity will rise. Even many of his critics supported the attack.
  3. Trump solved for the “puppet of Putin” allegation by attacking its client state, Syria.
  4. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee succeeded, albeit the hard way.
  5. The healthcare issue is moving forward after the initial trial-balloon that was more of a negotiating step than a real proposal.
  6. Tax reform is now on hold for healthcare reform, but no one thinks that is a bad way to go. The savings on healthcare are part of any budget and tax plan.
  7. Relations with China look good. Trump and Xi had good chemistry.
  8. China is putting the pressure on North Korea like never before.
  9. The economy is good, and optimism is high, in part thanks to Trump. (Mostly the optimism part.)
  10. Iran is probably a bit more flexible this week after watching the Syrian attack.
News coverage had already mostly evolved from “Trump is Hitler”  to “Trump is incompetent.” The Syrian attack and the North Korean situation moved Trump to “Effective, but some of us don’t like what he is doing” I wasn’t expecting that to happen before the end of the year.
You can tell me other presidents have had better starts. But I doubt that is the case. Keep in mind that Trump started in the deepest hole of any president, ever. He’s already halfway out of the hole and establishing himself as a strong leader on international issues."
Not what you wanted to hear? You probably did not want to hear that he would be elected either.

*** Brad Todd and Salena Zito Got It Right ***

The most pithy, insightful comment explaining Trump's successful candidacy was widely disseminated and variously paraphrased as "Trump's supporters took him seriously not literally, while the media and detractors took him literally not seriously". I've seen this quote attributed to Peter Thiel, Mark Cuban, Rush Limbaugh and others. Actual credit for popularizing the aphorism and injecting it into the social media bloodstream goes to journalist Salena Zito, who made the phrase the title of her September 23, 2016 Atlantic story -  "Taking Trump seriously, not literally."
"When he makes claims like this, the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literallyWhen I presented that thought to him [Trump], he paused again, “Now that’s interesting.”
Salena Zito popularized the phrase but did not originate it.  Original credit goes to Brad Todd, an advertising "maestro" and GOP strategist who tossed it out as an offhand remark in an MSNBC segment on August 12, 2016. We know that Zito got the idea from Todd, because she told us so in a tweet that same day:
Brad Todd nailed the dynamic behind Trump's win three months before the election, and this is the advice he had for reporters in a CNN Op-Ed shortly after Trump won - "Dear journalists - Stop taking Trump literally":
"The task for journalists covering Trump should be to get into the mindset of their readers, and out of the mindset of their own newsroom bureaucracies. Writing endless columns on this or that flip-flop based on Trump's conflicting rhetoric is wasting the time of the readers and viewers who have decided that's not what matters with this particular President-elect. 
The public -- also known as "customers" of for-profit news outlets -- sees Trump's words differently than journalists do. They, or at least the members of his winning electoral coalition, see Trump not as a politician but as a businessman. They know, and even value, the fact that his words have not passed through a gauntlet of spinners, prose smoothers, and fact-checkers. 
They may have met other real estate professionals in their own lives and they know better than to take the words of ad hoc marketing seriously. These supporters are not giving Trump a benefit of the doubt. They recognize his professional DNA, and journalists are overdue to recognize this discernment by their own audiences."
He tried. Journalists have not heeded his advice. Any additional Salena Zito and Brad Todd insights into the election and the American voter will have to wait for their book. They are collaborating on a manuscript that will be published in 2018. Zito:
"As a journalist, I’ve spent three presidential elections crossing the country, hearing people’s frustrations concerning Washington, and I loved every mile. This book is the culmination of those travels and an effort to understand what drove people to vote in 2016 and what they’re likely to do in 2020." 
If the book title is not "Seriously and Literally" there is no god. 

*** Michael Moore Got It Right ***

Michael Moore, award winning documentarian and progressive propagandist knew Trump could get elected because he stepped outside the warm and fuzzy echo chamber of liberal mainstream and social media. He knew because he talked to Trump supporters. Months before the election he tried to warn Democrats of what was coming in videointerviews and writings. On his website he enumerated "Five reasons why Trump will win":
 "I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I gave it to you straight last summer when I told you that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee for president. And now I have even more awful, depressing news for you: Donald J. Trump is going to win in November. This wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full time sociopath is going to be our next president. President Trump. Go ahead and say the words, ‘cause you’ll be saying them for the next four years: “PRESIDENT TRUMP.” 
Never in my life have I wanted to be proven wrong more than I do right now. I can see what you’re doing right now. You’re shaking your head wildly – “No, Mike, this won’t happen!” Unfortunately, you are living in a bubble that comes with an adjoining echo chamber where you and your friends are convinced the American people are not going to elect an idiot for president."
He got that prediction right, but the Dividist cannot help but think that Moore may have jumped the shark with his more recent prognostication:
Stick to political prognostication Mike. Catastrophic anthropogenic global climate disaster is not in your professional wheelhouse.

*** Allan Lichtman Got It Right ***

Allan Lichtman, Professor of History at American University, correctly predicted the outcome of every US presidential election through 2012 when this September 28, 2016 article was published in the Washington Post. He also got 2016 right:
"So very, very narrowly, the keys point to a Trump victory. But I would say, more to the point, they point to a generic Republican victory, because I believe that given the unprecedented nature of the Trump candidacy and Trump himself, he could defy all odds and lose even though the verdict of history is in his favor. So this would also suggest, you know, the possibility this election could go either way. Nobody should be complacent, no matter who you're for, you gotta get out and vote."
Since the election, Professor Lichtman made another prediction in this Politco preview of his upcoming book:
"Several Democrats have predicted that the first thing they’d do if they win the House next year is impeach Trump. It may not take that long, Lichtman argues, writing that his book is meant to “explain how Trump threatens the institutions and traditions that have made America safe and free for 230 years, and I’ll make clear why a Republican Congress might impeach a president of its own party. 
Lichtman’s list of possible offenses that could get Trump to that point are familiar: charges of treason with Russia, abuse of power and emoluments violations. Lichtman also cites now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, then a senator, who argued that a president could be impeached for offenses committed before he took office. Among those potential offenses, Lichtman lists Trump’s housing violations, charity problems, potential violations of the Cuba embargo and Trump University." 
“Justice will be realized in today’s America not through revolution, but by the Constitution’s peaceful remedy of impeachment,” he concludes the book, “but only if the people demand it.”
So there is that. Your mileage may vary. Past performance does not necessarily predict future results. If you have an erection lasting more than four hours call a doctor.

*** Ann Coulter Got It Right ***

On June 19, 2015 - Ann Coulter made the call on Bill Maher's show. The liberal audience and panelists laughed:

She got the last laugh on Nov 8, 2016.

In her recent Daily Caller screed, the Trump Whisperer did not make additional predictions, but rather tried to guide the President along her preferred policy path:
"If voters wanted more Middle Eastern wars, there were plenty of other candidates offering that: Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton, for example. And we must never forget Jeb! though it proved surprisingly easy to do so in 2016. But we picked Trump. 
While most of the left wailed about the return of Nazi Germany under Trump, savvier liberals saw his vulnerability: flattery. All we have to do is praise him! You’ll be shocked at how easy it is. And, boy, did they lay it on thick with the Syrian misadventure. No sucker’s bait was left on the floor. Cable news hosts gushed, “Trump became president of the United States tonight!” On MSNBC, Brian Williams called the bombing “beautiful” three times in less than a minute... We want the “president of America” back — not “the president of the world.
It is yet to be determined if that is indeed what "we" want.

The Dividist will once again crawl out on a limb and make another prediction.

What "we" really want in 2018, is a return to divided government and real legislative oversight of this Executive branch.



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