Here are three takes on the election.
Not a Surprise To Me
Everyone’s asking me how surprised I am. The answer is, not a bit. I predicted shortly after the conventions that Donald Trump would win. He understood how to talk to people directly in terms they understood. He seemed to defy political gravity in the same way President Barack Obama did. And he was blessed with an absolutely abysmal opponent.
The Los Angeles Times/USC poll, which turned out to be the most accurate of the cycle, was the most bullish on Trump’s chances throughout. The crosstabs were mostly predictable–him ahead with older voters, Hillary Clinton with educated women; him with white men, her with Hispanic women.
But when it came to income, the figures were remarkable. Among people earning $35,000 to $75,000 per year–$20,000 on either side of the median income–Trump was crushing Clinton. He led by nearly 20 points earlier in the campaign, and held a 16.2 percent margin on Election Day.
He also led in the $75,000 to $120,000 class, although by less. That’s virtually all of the middle class. You can’t run against the middle class and run against white people, who make up 72 percent of the country, and win national elections.
What Didn’t Matter
A number of things many assumed would matter turned out not to matter at all. The newspaper publishers in Dallas and elsewhere who endorsed their first Democrat in hundreds of years and lost thousands of subscribers for doing so must feel kind of foolish today. So must National ”Never Trump” Review.
Newspaper endorsements and the fawning approval of reporters and editors permeating copy on every page of their newspapers did not matter. Rosie O’Donnell did not matter. Khizr Khan did not matter. Hillary’s campaign actually placed stories in the closing days about how North Carolina was going to go to her because military families were mad about the Khan affair and Trump’s earlier comments about Senator John McCain (R-AZ). But they, in fact, delivered a key Trump victory.
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) didn’t matter. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) didn’t matter. The President and his wife campaigning for Hillary didn’t matter. Hillary having far more money didn’t matter. Running thousands of negative ads against him, and literally editing the stories of the reporters covering her campaign didn’t matter. Her alleged ground game advantage didn’t matter either.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) screeched Thursday, “I want to know when Donald Trump is going to show his taxes.” Let me help with that one…the 12th of never. Or perhaps the 13th. Democrats called this an outrage and a requirement for holding public office. It was always a political question, and Trump held on and won it. Because it didn’t matter either.
The wall of inevitability created by a corrupt polling industry also didn’t matter, although it will matter to the polling industry next time around.
The Democrat Spin
We’re beginning to see the contours of the first Democrat attack lines on Trump. They’ll try to paint him as a big spender whose plans to rebuild infrastructure and strengthen the military will break the nation.
They’ll point out how he could wind up spending the first year or two of his term testifying in or otherwise dealing with a series of lawsuits from his various business interests. There also will be whispers about how divested he truly can become from his business interests, and whether he ever devotes time to them.
The rest will go heavy on the “he’s too crazy to hold the launch codes” and “he knows absolutely nothing about Washington or government,” which is why most people elected him.
And a new line emerging in the face of the protests is that it’s time for Trump to reach out to Democrats and heal the nation’s wounds. From Democrat members of Congress to their helpful handmaidens in the media, we hear a call to seek common cause with enemies. After all, they say, Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote.
Trump has talked to the minority leaders of Congress, and he dispatched Vice-President-Elect Mike Pence to see Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) personally. But he would be wise not to get carried away with these olive branches. The people on the other side didn’t just vote against him, they unleashed a tide of vituperation never before heaped on a presidential candidate.
Hear their views. Invite their input. Pledge to work together. But when it comes down to it, the American people could’ve elected the Democrats to the Senate, the House and definitely the White House. But they didn’t. They wanted a Republican Congress and Donald Trump as president. And when the time comes to remind the Democrats of this, here’s hoping Trump will.