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Why Did Everyone Get it Wrong? A Before and After Look at the Election

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Photo credit: flickr.com


Election night in America was a very unexpected and shocking one that caused a variety of reactions all across the board. Donald Trump, as of December 14, has won 306 electoral votes and Hillary Clinton has won 232 electoral votes. However, Hillary was able to garner the majority of the popular vote by 2,833,220 votes. On election night, every state seemed to be in contention––especially Michigan, Minnesota, and New Hampshire. In fact, Michigan was called by CNN’s presidential results map in the last week of November, 19 days after the election. This was a very tight race and millions of Americans thought Hillary was going to take the win. However, why did so many people get this wrong?

     One of the many answers to this complex question were the polls. Many of the national polls that were taken between Friday, November 4 and the day before the election, November 7, showed Clinton leading. YouGov/Economist had her leading with 45% of the vote while they had Trump at 41%. Fox News and Monmouth University also had Clinton leading. As a matter of fact, the Monmouth poll actually had her ahead with the largest margin of +6. According to the New York Times, the ABC News/Washington Post, New York Times, and Rasmussen polls, Clinton was ahead. The only poll that showed Trump leading was the IBD/TIPP Investor’s Business Daily which had him at 43% and Clinton at 41%. Still, all the polls had the two candidates at very close margins. Along with this, many of these polls only received hundreds or thousands of responses. Therefore, there could have easily been a “misrepresentation of the population in the sample” according to The Atlantic. This means that the people who participated in the polls didn’t necessarily show what the majority of Americans were going to do on election night. For example, some of these polls were done by calling people on their landline phones or cellphones but because, according to the CDC, “half of the U.S households do not have landlines” those without are not represented in the sample. This in turn could correlate to those who are of a low economic status being under represented or to those who prefer cell phones.

     Democrats were probably the largest group that mistook Trump as an unworthy opponent and put too much of their confidence in Clinton’s Blue Wall. These are the states that were guaranteed to go to the Democratic party vs Red states that were guaranteed to go to the Republicans. On election night, states that were heavily predicted to be won by  Clinton swung to Trump. Those states were Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. Pennsylvania was by far the most shocking because in 2008, President Obama won the state by 10.4% in popular vote and again in 2012 by 5.2%. However, in this year’s election, Clinton lost the state and its 20 electoral votes to Trump by 1.2%. The state had not gone red since 1988 according to CNN. Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota together made up 36 electoral votes and like Pennsylvania were states that historically had been mainly Democratic. However, it is important to note, according to The Atlantic, that due to the shifting demographics, “weighing” data based on the results of past elections would not take into account the changing of the electorate. Therefore, these comparisons to past elections are important to note, but they themselves hold a certain amount of error due to the changing populations of states.

     Another component of this race that has gotten many talking is the Electoral College. What  many might not be aware of is that on Election Day, individuals are not voting for the presidential nominee on the ballot. According to Vox, they are instead voting for a set of electors. So for instance, when Hillary won California, she received 55 electors that the Democratic Party nominated and that people on Election Day voted for. Then, when the 528 electors gather on December 19th, these 55 electors will  vote for Hillary. This is why a state like Florida is extremely crucial. It is a state that could either go red or blue carrying 29 electoral votes, which could easily swing an election. Therefore, even though Hillary received a larger share of the popular vote, Trump’s 309 electors garnered him the win, making him the current presidential elect.

     The electoral college is set to meet in the coming week on Monday December 19, in order to cast their official votes for president.

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