Searching for common sense in politics

Friday, December 23, 2016

5 Things We Learned from the 2016 Election

The U.S. presidential election of 2016 was unlike any other, and it resulted in a U.S. President-elect unlike any other. So many unusual things happened that it is quite possible that the 2016 election will be what is known as a "realigning election," where things in the world of American politics are never quite the same afterwards.

We will undoubtedly learn many things from 2016, but it will take years to sort out all of those lessons. For now, here are 5 things that are already apparent:

1. The Polls are not Perfect

On the eve of the election, virtually every poll predicted an easy victory for Hillary Clinton. Even the more highly scientific outfits, like, gave Clinton a 70 percent chance of victory. Even more surprising, of the four possible outcomes (Clinton wins popular and electoral vote, Clinton wins popular vote but loses electoral vote, Trump wins popular and electoral vote, Trump wins popular vote but loses electoral vote) the one that actually occurred (Clinton won popular vote but lost the electoral vote) was considered to be the least likely outcome. Pollsters and politicians will spend the next few years poring over every detail, trying to figure out why the polls were so wrong.

2. Democrats are Hypocrites

During the final presidential debate, Donald Trump declined to say that he would concede defeat if, as expected, Clinton beat him on election night. Hillary Clinton and the Democrats went to town, calling Trump a lunatic and saying that anyone who would not accept the legitimate results of an election was dangerous and untrustworthy. Then they lost, and the script was flipped. Suddenly it was the Democrats calling the election "rigged" and they threw out a litany of reasons why they lost: Comey and the FBI, racist white voters, fake news, Russian interference. The only reason they didn't give was probably the most accurate of all: Clinton was just a lousy candidate.

3. Republicans are Hypocrites, Too

During the primaries, lots of Republican leaders and figureheads said some unsavory things about Donald Trump, from Mitt Romney to Carly Fiorina to Nikki Haley. After his shocking victory, many of those same people have been shamelessly bending over backwards to suck up to the President-elect. On top of that, the same Republicans (including Donald Trump himself) who made claims before the election of the vote being "rigged" are the ones now telling the Democrats to stop whining and accept the results. American politics at it's finest!

4. The Electoral College is in Trouble...Maybe

For the second time in the last 5 election cycles, the winner of the election is not the one who got the most votes. After the election of 2000, there was a lot of talk about how the electoral college was outdated and unnecessary, but that talk died off rather quickly. Now the murmur has resurfaced even more strongly after Donald Trump's shocking and controversial victory. With the Republicans - who were the beneficiaries in both 2000 and this year - in control of the White House and Congress, it's unlikely that Washington will take any action to eliminate or weaken the Electoral College anytime soon. But that won't stop some states from making moves. Expect some changes before the election of 2020.

5. The Election of 2020 Could be Very Interesting

The Democrats are already licking their chops to fix what went wrong in 2016 and go after Donald Trump again. But what will be most interesting about 2020 is what the Republicans do. It was no secret that the GOP establishment was lukewarm, at best, about Trump during his campaign. And although that animosity has subsided somewhat since he won the election, the honeymoon phase will not last forever. Trump is such an unconventional President-elect, and unpredictable person, that it is entirely likely that the establishment will turn against him again before 2020. No incumbent president has faced a serious challenge from his own party since Gerald Ford in 1976. That could change in four years.

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