I confess that Tuesday night did not go as I expected. I also confess that if someone had told me three years ago that Republicans would win the White House and both houses of Congress and that I would find the event unsettling, then I would have dismissed the prediction as I dismiss carnival fortune tellers.

I won’t rehash my objections to President elect Donald Trump because I’ve covered them here over the last nine months and because I also would have been unsettled by the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency. Unsettled was always going to be my Wednesday, November 9th, I simply anticipated unsettlement about other details.

So what just happened? A comment from the thick of the night hit the nub. When the later returns started showing a pattern of Trump outperforming 2012 Romney across various groups, a liberal acquaintance asked: “What does it take to overcome Trump revulsion?”

It takes decades of expansive government power and eight years of an administration unreservedly using that power to do as it pleased. The Obama Administration was bound by neither law nor tradition, or even respect for the opposition. People were so fed up with having to take whatever Washington dished out that they voted for Donald J. Trump. They found government more repulsive than the man. And the intellectual chattering classes — the media, the ivory tower, the party players —they all completely missed it.

One of the lessons for me today is: I’m a part of the miss. Oh, I saw the issues. My recurring theme of 2015 discussions among writers was ‘you don’t have to like Trump but you must pay heed to the frustration he represents.’ But I didn’t think frustration with federal government was high enough to get enough voters who would endure Trump. I was wrong. Frustration with government is that high.

I am married to an annoyingly wise man. (That’s affectionate annoyance. On long term, deep analysis, the man is rarely wrong.) I thought that the race would be a referendum on Trump. He insisted I was missing the point like so many other pundits. The election was about runaway government. Again, he was right.

Even though I saw the issues, the facts that my husband and I don’t live on a tight budget and aren’t in an industry in phase-out (God does protect lawyers) allowed me the privilege to consider Trump’s character in my metric. When the Obamacare plan cancellations and rate hikes hit two weeks ago, this was not an annoying budget item to many people. It was a crushing one. For these households, the character nuances among the two candidates was an indulgent concern.

The rate hikes are just one example, but because of  their timing I do think this is where the race shifted. Many rebellious Republicans “came home” then, which coincided with the FBI email scandal, so the chatter assumed it away.

Then we have the polls. Readers of Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight knew last night’s events were possible. They just weren’t likely. But as last night taught us — again — almost everything that legacy media tells the public is wrong.

Last night huge numbers of previous Obama voters, including minorities, voted for Trump, and outside of right media, only Silver seems to have considered the possibility. Everyone else assumed that the old breakdowns — race, sex, and religion — are still in play. The realignment some of us have been watching for, finally gave us a hint of an outline last night. It’s rural to urban and across race, sex, and religion.

We will hear much about sexism against a female president and racism, or “whitelash,” but this is mostly media defensiveness. Recall the summer story of Ben Rhodes and the know-nothing media  He, a political operative, could feed them whatever narrative the powers that be needed because they reliably failed to question their own assumptions or do the required research. (See also, the Rolling Stone verdict ) This is the media, sticking with their comfortable assumptions. The race couldn’t possibly be about government. Government is the solution. Right?

A few conventional wisdom rewrites to close this America Watch. Get Out The Vote efforts remain essential to local races but are superfluous to national ones. Party political consultants are generally a waste of funds. And last, new and social media have supplanted legacy media. I claim some vindication on this and I will be pleased if I never again have to endure watching big names in makeup ramble on with low-knowledge filler chatter while some tech person tweaks something on the big and flashy set.

Silver linings. It’s all about finding the silver linings.

(Image: Glyn Lowe)


  1. What a shock. Who saw that coming?

    Oh wait, we did.

    We told you exactly why it was going to happen. We also told you that the polls were wrong and why they were.

    Yes, I’m having a well-earned gloat right now but can I ask you and other commentators to finally get on board with the fact that the MSM are not well-intentioned yet mistaken, they are active participants. They do not seek to report events, they seek to influence them.

    Gloat over.

    • Dictated because I’m on the move, so please excuse homonyms.

      Yes, I expected your gloat. I will say, however, if you think that I thought the MS and was well-intentioned but mistaken, you haven’t read any of my previous stuff and obviously hardly read the pieces that I put up here. My contention was that the MSN wasn’t as wrong as Trump supporters thought. But I do not consider the mainstream media to be well-intentioned, well-informed, or even interested in intellectual your inquiry.

      • You wrote a great piece a while back which was in part about tactics those on the right should use to bypass and mitigate the effect of mainstream media. Forgive me I can’t remember what it is called but I think there were eight points for Republicans to consider.. Anyway it is clear, you do not assign much credibility to them!

    • Indeed that is why many of us no longer trust much of what we read in the MSM. Their job is to inform in an impartial manner but I think that all ended some time ago.

  2. Quite right Leslie. It is very much about discontent with Government as a whole.
    I think liberal left media and most politicians truly dwell in an echo chamber so such an extent that they cannot understand ordinary people any more. To be fair a lot are waking up to this realization this week.
    For years in the west Globalisation has been unquestioned because those who benefited most also controlled both power and the media. I really believe in capitalism but can see how rampant Globalisation damages people and communities.
    Governments of all colours have allowed monopolies to emerge (i.e Microsoft, Amazon, Apple etc) and many huge Banks and corporations with way too much power. When your factory or place of work dissapears Globalisation expects you to up sticks and move to where the work is. Of course most working class people stay where they are. They remain in the place they have close friendship ties and family bonds. Ever heard a member of the media or the Government address this?
    No wonder half of all American have less than $500 in their checking account and absolutely no contingency to pay an unexpected large bill. You are right that the Obamacare increases will have been absolutely crushing. I have not seen much analysis of that on the media.

    • Exactly right. The BBC hadn’t mentioned the healthcare increases once in their coverage. It just confirms what we already suspected – the msm isn’t reporting reality.

    • “Of course most working class people stay where they are. They remain in the place they have close friendship ties and family bonds. Ever heard a member of the media or the Government address this?” Only when they are looking into heroine use when those towns almost completely empty out. Eventually most do move away from connections, leaving those behind with not much to fight despair.

  3. Well said, Leslie. You were not far off the mark. For me it came down to Comey and his explanation of why he wouldn’t prosecute, till then I was likely to not vote (NE-03 after all) or vote for Johnson, I often do. That changed the frustration with government to anger at the partisan unlawfulness of the Democratic (a good part of the Republican, as well) party. That was when I committed to Trump.

    Obamacare premiums were and are much more important than the play they got, Trump would be well advised to move fast on that.

    And finally, pretty much the only place I disagree with you (actually from what you say, I’m closer to your husband) is the word frustration, for most that I know, including Hispanics, it’s white hot anger at the federal government, and all its works, excepting only the military. For many the alternative to Trump was, ‘Burn it down, and scatter the stones”. Not a good way to run the country.

    Far as I can tell, racism and sexism and all the other -isms just didn’t have much traction, at least around here, simply a meme of the left, and very easy to ignore after all the practice we’ve had.

  4. Interesting that this was another vote the pundits got wrong. Not wanting to pick on Leslie but I do think her comment about lawyers and all in “comfortable” careers is really important. There is a link, I believe, even with Corbyn and Momentum. Because they are harnessing a similar sense of dissatisfaction, many youngsters having done well and gone on to get a degree find there aren’t the jobs they thought would be theirs. They too link to the failure of promised prosperity, albeit with a very different slant.
    We have a world often in full accord with the “baby boomer” generation ideals of youth. But it turns out there are very real downsides for those not within the safety of comfortable careers. It is indeed these people who bear the brunt of “sink estates” “zero hours” job price falls due to a glut of tradesmen, call centres, taxations, etc. etc. And for whom the comfortable world of “identity politics” and PC is increasingly irrelevant and often against their actual interests.
    I suspect it will be looked back on as a particularly decadent time as the cloud of money released by the “boom” and colossal borrowing in the west made it appear “all shall have prizes”. There is a time lag but the reality of a world in which the “west” competes with less decadent and more industrious nations is coming home to roost. And of course it does so first with those with little other than their labour to compete with.
    One response has been to continue to offer the prizes in some countries by borrowing more and hoping for the best. But eventually, as with Obama Care somebody has to foot the bills.

    • You can pick on me. No worries. I’m really being rough on myself because unlike many other writers I actually saw the underlying issues. I don’t have the comfort of total ignorance. Then I tell myself that I really just missed the size. Then, but it is why I missed the size. Comfort is a cloud. Difficult to see though.

  5. Clinton was expecting to get all the female vote and this was not so.
    Both my daughters tell me that having had a woman boss, they would never willingly work for a woman if they had a choice. My elder daughter when moved to a post with female staff said that she could feel an undercurrent of dislike if not hatred, although the men were quite happy to accept her.
    I think women don’t understand other women, especially when a woman who has ideas that are different from their own. Most females don’t seem to agree with much of the feminist agenda, although politicians seem to think that they do.

    • Well intelligent women don’t base their vote on whether the candidate has a vagina or not. Half of America have one, so relying on women to vote for you because you are female is to grossly underrate woman’s intelligence. We also vote based on policy, what is the candidate going to do? Having a vagina is frankly really not enough!

        • Really. Seen Samantha Bee’s reaction? She called out white women because “we’ve got some karma to work off.” And to @disqus_dCHm8iMEmE:disqus Carly Fiorina was a promising candidate until she pulled the identity card.

          • I’m at the point where I tune out if a woman brings up the fact that she is, in fact, a woman. Yes, I can see that – no need to mention it. I want to hear something of real substance. I expect anyone who works in any type of public office to execute their duties without special regard for any particular subgroup(s). Because that is usually done to the detriment of other groups. Now how does favoring women help my male friends, colleagues, fellow countrymen and family members? I am not an island unto myself. Another intellectual disconnect.

    • I was in process of updating an old piece on Hillary Clinton on precisely this point. It opens with the woman boss point — so, so common — and came before Trump when I thought this was the path to beat her. It was a foundation piece, and I hit the themes again discussing Clinton and Dunham or Steinem. But it seemed Quixotic after Trump became the nominee. “Clinton is terrible for women” is an easily assailable argument when the other guy is cutting up about sexual assault. But this was an “It’s the economy, stupid” election. Jobs, budgets, and government interference making it for America to thrive. Again, so much irony.

      • The other point worth noting is that both Mrs Thatcher and Mrs May got the top jobs because the Conservatives voted for them as the best person available without either of them playing the feminist cards. I can’t recall Mrs Thatcher campaigning for the post based on “It’s time we had a female PM”.

  6. I think there is another subtle shift in American politics currently under way that especially Republicans need get ahead of. The Electoral College, right now and in the immediate future, favors Republicans. Red states do not go blue but, blue states can turn red. The liberal bastions in the Northeast and west coast are losing population and have been for years as anyone with options flees those high tax states. The Northeast especially is losing relevance in presidential politics. Those states have been steadily shedding electoral votes for years. States like Texas have been picking them up.

    • Yes, they’ll try again. What it was designed for was to protect small states, like yours and mine. I also protects minorities (in the old sense of the word). The dichotomy becomes even more apparent if you look at election results county by county, A very few counties control Virginia, New York, and Illinois. Colorado is turning blue because of emigration from California, something Texas itself needs to watch. Why those fleeing California and such can’t realize that their politics is what ruined there states is the question I can’t answer. I’d also like to see senators again elected by our legislatures.

      God save the Republic from (D) democratic reformers!

      • Your point about states like Colorado turning blue is very true. New Hampshire has gotten more liberal since people from Massachusetts started moving there. Same thing is true for the Carolinas with people from New York and New Jersey moving down there. These people leave their home states because they can’t afford the taxes, then try to make their new home state just like the old one. They think of all these things they would like to have – new libraries, community centers, school programs, etc. All these things of course cost money, but they don’t seem to make that connection. Astounding, really. And yes – Texas needs to be careful. It has its share of California transplants, plus many D-voting hispanics.

          • People vote with their feet – and I love having the option of doing just that. States that price people out of their own homes/communities or in other ways make life difficult for people, deserve to lose their taxpaying, law-abiding citizens. But then so many of these people who change their address don’t also change their vote. There seems to be an intellectual disconnect with these folks.

          • Yep, and that’s exactly the point I keep making to some of my UK friends about devolution, only to hear about how incompetent the local governments are. Of course, they are, if you don’t let them do anything.

          • I attended a public pensions seminar at Texas Public Policy Foundation yesterday. Houston, like so many cities, has underfunded pensions. Some of the speakers said that the fix was holding local governments accountable when the math didn’t add up. But that assumes public knowledge. While we were focused on the national election, the Houston mayor announced a deal–a kick the can down the road kind of deal–to “fix” our local pensions. The public did not learn of all the details until about 2 days before the City Council vote. And that is just a recommendation to the state legislature anyway because unions and Dems put in some road blocks to local control in place a while ago when the economy was booming.

            How are we the citizens supposed to keep local government accountable when it doesn’t have much power and thus the public is easily pushed off and uninformed?! Accountability assumes responsibility.

          • Holding local governments accountable means that they will raise taxes to make up the shortfall. In some cases this could be drastic, and at that time the public will have knowledge! I seem to recall a story from a few years ago about a small southern town that had to raise property taxes in a hurry. The pension fund dried up, and pensioners were not getting their checks anymore. Residents may be sympathetic, but that doesn’t mean they want their property taxes jacked up all of a sudden.

            Another thing – these public pensions must move to a defined contribution plan, rather than the defined benefit plan that so many currently have. In some cases, local governments can skimp on the payments into the pension trust by overestimating the percent interest that will be earned. They do this to ease their own year-to-year budget constraints, but then in the long run leave the trust underfunded. This is especially bad in the sluggish economy that we have been experiencing for the last 8 – 10 years, since there haven’t been the ups to balance the downs.

  7. The Democrats were selling nothing, they spent an awful lot of money dong so and ran a slick campaign but nothing is nothing however nicely you present it. The liberal establishment ran out of ideas years ago. Their only ideas now are the furthering or protection of some pet minority group or women’s rights. But as the Western democracies have laws that enshrine women’s rights and minority interest by treating all citizens equally before the common law, they actually have nothing…….Trump offered something. Hope, the prospect of jobs and respect for the wishes of the electorate. Just like Brexit offered hope whilst the Remain campaign offered nothing but spent a lot and ran a good campaign to sell that nothing.

  8. “Everyone else assumed that the old breakdowns — race, sex, and religion — are still in play. The realignment some of us have been watching for, finally gave us a hint of an outline last night.” This isn’t the end of ‘identity politics’. But it is, perhaps, the beginning of the end.

  9. If you had read Rush Limbaugh’s website on a regular basis you would have known that the result was definitely possible, as his analysis of the issues was first-class over a long period. I went to sleep knowing that Trump definitely could win (about 1.30am), though not sure if it would. The point is that I knew most of the polls were skewed towards Ms Clinton, and that the media were in the can for her. The real issue is that people were surprised, and that is an awful comment on the media, or a failure generally to dig into things.

    • I didn’t read Limbaugh, and I did know it was possible. I watched Silver take it from HuffPo over the result that came. The crumbling of the blue wall had been discussed for weeks. It just was a low probably scenario, largely because of assumptions about minority votes, see comment to Nick above. It is an awful comment on media. No doubt at all.

  10. Some good comments on last week’s thread that is now closed. So a quick reply to @disqus_UuJcGs1SZ7 (Nick, hope it tags you.) People are pouring all over the numbers. They really are quite remarkable. The old sex, race, creed fractures faded in ways few contemplated.

    A few days before the election I recall a snarky tweet about some ridiculous Hail Mary hope that higher Hispanic turnout might actually help Trump because legal immigrants are hawkish on illegal immigration. Ha. Ha. Isn’t that funny. I didn’t join in because most of the Hispanics I know hold exactly that position. But I figured that’s because I know Republican Hispanics. Actually, now it looks like that played a little. What was dismissed as a fringe Hispanic position is actually not all that fringe. Repeat for every demographic group.

    And Republicans have known for a while that they only needed to get a few parentage points of the black vote. Trump got it. (Which was Nick’s question last week.)

    • Leslie, I’ll confirm that about Hispanics, my county is + 30% Hispanic, most legal, although some families have come over illegally. Well the county went 83% Trump, and the Hispanics I’ve spoken with are part of that – for exactly the reason you state, the illegals hurt them perhaps more than anybody else, and they detest the Somalis we’ve been getting the last few years as well.

      • I think you said it below, maybe @disqus_9NVY3P3QI7:disqus, but I’ve certainly thought it a hundred times in the last 48 hours–all the media narratives about race and sex, they really are nothing more than PR bully campaigns amplified by media, social and traditional.

        Tagging @terrybrennan:disqus for an example we’ve seen often. 1% feminism is really as unpopular as the surveys say. NOW has chapters all over the country. They do press releases in support or opposition of legislation or corporations. They have active social media accounts. They do TV interviews and have the name recognition that news media seeks them out. They sound loud. But do a little digging, and a state has 200 women as members. That twitter account has 100 followers, half probably bought. The amount of influence they have managed recently on so little actual support–wow.

        • I think they (NOW) enjoy the position of being the go-to organization for anything involving women’s issues. The media know that they are more than willing to give an interview, and that they are a known quantity as far as what they will say about any given situation. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson enjoy that same status re: race issues. They don’t have to be credible or respected, they just have to be easily accessible and reliably PC – oh, and they’re not camera shy! 😉

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