Post-Election Post Mortem

Now that we have some distance from this past election, it is high time to try and figure out what exactly went so wrong when it comes to the media’s presidential predictions.

Trump’s victory was so shocking to so many because almost no one in media expected Donald Trump to win, because polls significantly favored Hillary, as seen in the New York Times Upshot predictions from midday November 8 and 9:






As seen above, NYT gave Hillary an 85% chance of winning the presidency right before polls closed…






… and, well, we all know how it turned out. This trend was repeated across the board.

So, how did this happen? There are several theories circulating among major media organizations like the Washington Post, NYT, and Politico.

The first has to do with how how pollsters modeled voter turnout, that there may be some unknown flaw in the system that had Trump supporters underrepresented in the polls because more trump supporters voted than expected. This has to do with the way different demographic groups were weighted in polling; this plays into the “silent majority” Trump’s campaign constantly referenced.

The second is that Trump supporters were simply less likely to say they supported Trump, leading to underrepresentation. It makes sense that people wouldn’t openly support someone with Trump’s beliefs, but still vote for him when no one was watching. Emphasis on “Silent,” I guess…

The third is that the polls were simply out of date. Trump led consistently among voters who made up their minds closer to election day; some think this might have affected the accuracy of polling. (Thanks, Russia.)

This all grows even more interesting given the recent news of meddling from Russia and the desire for a recount in three states.

Hopefully we can learn from all this and do a better job next time.


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