Why Trump Won — And Why The Media Missed It

With Breanne Deppisch

THE BIG IDEA: President-elect Donald Trump was right all along. He had a silent majority. The media, the pollsters and Republican elites never saw it – even though it was right in front of them the whole time.

— Because his adopted party maintained its majorities in the Senate and the House, Trump can now advance a very ambitious agenda. He gets to pick Antontin Scalia’s replacement, vindicating Mitch McConnell’s decision to deny Merrick Garland a hearing and ensuring that the GOP will control all three branches of government. Because Barack Obama has relied so much on executive actions since the 2010 midterms, if he chooses, Trump can roll back many of the president’s signature achievements. The Republican Congress can also use budget reconciliation to eviscerate Obamacare. TPP is definitively dead.

— The reality TV star will be the first president in American history to take office without prior government or military experience.

— It’s going to take some time for this new reality to fully sink in, but the question of the hour is: How the heck did this happen? What follows are several of the most plausible explanations…

— “Confirmation bias” is the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing theories. Since he came down that escalator at Trump Tower 17 months ago, many elites could never fully visualize Trump as the president of the United States. That made it very hard to see him winning the nomination – until he did – or winning the White House – until he did. Confirmation bias does not mean one preferred a particular outcome. Rather, it is a condition of psychology: All human beings tend to put a premium on information that validates their existing expectations and downplay new data points that undermine them.

Even many members of the Republican establishment who supported Trump could never envision him prevailing. That meant that some very talented GOP operatives (who have won very big races) were insisting until late last night that the votes were not there for Trump. A Republican who won a statewide race in Florida two years ago texted after polls closed to say Clinton was going to win that state by four points. (Trump won 49 percent to 48 percent.) Another veteran Republican, who has served the Bush family in various roles, emailed in the wee hours of this morning: “I no longer need to go to Rome. Going to watch an empire fall right here in the next four years.”

— That said, even Trump’s own internal models were wrong. Staffers at the Republican National Committee were telling reporters that Trump would win 240 Electoral College votes. “The best data inside the Trump campaign and the RNC had his chances of winning the presidency as a 1 in 5 proposition,” Yahoo’s Jon Ward reports.

Trump supporters rally in front of the White House. (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)
Trump supporters rally in front of the White House. (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

— Looking back, there is so much anecdotal evidence: All those guys at the bar in a hollowed out Ohio steel town who did not know a single Clinton supporter. The two dozen independents at a Pirates-Reds baseball game in Pittsburgh who talked how much they love Bill but loathe Hillary. The conservatives in rural Selma, North Carolina, who said they stayed home four years ago but would vote for Trump.

There were also so many red flags of lagging enthusiasm for Clinton: The paid canvasser for the Clinton campaign at The Ohio State University who could not find a single person to commit to support her during his shift in Columbus. The African Americans in Raleigh this past weekend who wanted to vote early and supported Clinton but gave up because the lines were too long. The North Carolina college students down the road who said they were probably going to vote for her – but also described her as a pathological liar. In Richmond, there were no yard signs for Clinton in places that were full of Obama signs four years ago.

All these anecdotes should have received more weight vis-à-vis the polls, which were themselves based on assumptions about what the electorate would look like.

British Prime Minister David Cameron puts his arm around his wife Samantha after announcing his resignation at 10 Downing Street in London after the country voted to leave the E.U. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA via AP)
British Prime Minister David Cameron puts his arm around his wife Samantha after announcing his resignation at 10 Downing Street in London after the country voted to leave the E.U. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA via AP)

— Trump’s victory must be viewed as part of a global wave of reaction to immigration, trade and globalization. Donald has been calling himself “Mr. Brexit” in his stump speech for a while, drawing heavy parallels between the British vote to exit the European Union and his own campaign. Elites in Europe thought it was inconceivable that Brexit would happen – until it did. Also look at the rise of nationalists across continental Europe.

Nigel Farage, the U.K. Independence Party member known for his strong support for Brexit, even came to the U.S. to campaign with Trump. “2016 is going to be the year of two great political revolutions,” Farage said on London television overnight.

The Clinton campaign, blinded by hubris, ridiculed and heavily pushed back on journalists who argued that Brexit showed Trump could win.

To borrow a lyric from “Hamilton”:

— 2016 truly was THE YEAR OF THE OUTSIDER – even more so than even 2008.Few elites in December 2014 believed that neither a Clinton nor Bush would be president in 2017. But there has been a ravenous hunger and deep thirst for change, even if that change agent is imperfect. (Only 38 percent of voters in the exit polls said Trump is qualified to be president – which means about one-fifth of Trump’s voters did not think he was qualified but supported him anyway.)

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, wearing a hat with the logo #newmajority, speaks in Louisville last night. (Timothy D. Easley/AP)
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, wearing a hat with the logo #newmajority, speaks in Louisville last night. (Timothy D. Easley/AP)

Exactly one year ago, Republican Matt Bevin won the Kentucky governor’s race despite every single poll showing him down. Two of the top people on his campaign, Jason Miller and Jessica Ditto, worked for Trump this fall. Bevin had quixotically challenged Mitch McConnell in a 2014 primary and been crushed. But he prevailed in a three-way GOP primary just one year later, and then the millionaire businessman tapped into a coalitionvery similar to Trump’s with a message that sounded a lot like his.

A few months later, Jeb’s shock and awe strategy failed. Money could not buy him the love of the voters.

Hillary, who has been in the public eye over four decades and who has had a Secret Service detail for almost 25 years now, insisted during the primaries that she was not part of the Democratic establishment. No one, even her, actually believed that. The fact that a septuagenarian socialist from Vermont kept her sweating through the California primary in June should have set off even louder alarm bells than it did. The fact that Bernie won so many primaries in states dominated by conservative Democrats, such as West Virginia, also underscored the extent to which his appeal was really more about tapping into disaffection with the status quo than his far-left ideology.

Evan Bayh led by more than 20 points in public and private polls when he first jumped into the Indiana Senate race this summer. The son of a onetime presidential candidate thought his surname and huge war chest – held over from 2010 – would allow him to easily get his old seat back. But Republicans defined him as a consummate D.C. insider who made millions as an influence peddler after leaving office. He lost by 10 points, a margin no one expected.

Republican Sen. Roy Blunt narrowly survived after getting hammered for his fancy house in Washington and the fact that his wife and all his kids are lobbyists. Trump won Missouri by 19 points. Blunt won by just three points, underperforming the top of the ticket by 215,000 votes. If Trump had not fared quite so well, even Blunt advisers agree he would have gone down.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson won a shocking upset against challenger Russ Feingold by successfully presenting himself as the outsider in the race despite being the incumbent. It was a rematch of 2010, when the political neophyte had knocked off the three-termer. “Obviously something is happening in this country,” Feingold said in his concession speech. “I’ll be honest. I don’t understand it completely.”

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, wearing a hat with the logo #newmajority, speaks in Louisville last night. (Timothy D. Easley/AP)
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, wearing a hat with the logo #newmajority, speaks in Louisville last night. (Timothy D. Easley/AP)

Rep. John Mica (R-Florida) gets a hug from his wife, Patrica, after conceding defeat to Democratic challenger Stephanie Murphy in Altamonte Springs last night. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

John Mica, the 12-term Republican congressman, fell in the Orlando suburbs. He based his campaign on his ability to bring home the bacon, highlighting earmarks and road projects that he facilitated as chairman of the House Transportation Committee. That did not resonate with voters in this environment.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who like Mica has been in office since 1992, went down in Phoenix. Trump won his county by four points, but Arpaio – despite being one of his most prominent early supporters — lost by 10 points. Why? Voters were exhausted by all the drama associated with him and wanted a fresh face. “There’s a new sheriff in town,” his challenger, Paul Penzone, said at his victory party.

North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory apparently went down, even as Trump carried his state and Sen. Richard Burr survived, because voters were angry about the so-called bathroom bill that he signed into law earlier this year.

FBI Director James Comey (Michael Reynolds/EPA)
FBI Director James Comey (Michael Reynolds/EPA)

— James Comey deserves a significant share of credit/blame/responsibility, whichever word you want to use, for Clinton’s loss. The percentage of likely voters who saw the former secretary of state as untrustworthy rose after the FBI director’s bombshell announcement only 11 days before the election. Comey undercut Democratic enthusiasm, and his suggestion that the investigation into her would reopen motivated Republicans to fall in line.

Democrats will forever more hate Comey, who contributed financially to John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012, even though he tried to clean up the mess he created this past Sunday. But by then it was too late. Tens of millions of early votes had been cast, and his walk back received a fraction of the attention.

— Recalcitrant Republicans definitely came home in the final days. Trump won 88 percent of self-identified Republicans. He wound up doing better than expected in places like the Milwaukee suburbs, where there had been strong pockets of Never Trump resistance. He wound up garnering 60 percent of white men and 52 percent of white women, according to the exit polls. He even won college-educated whites!

White evangelicals supported Trump by an 81 percent to 16 percent margin in the exit polls. Compare that to 2004, when George W. Bush pandered to this group by endorsing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and still only got 78 percent among this group. Maintaining control of the Supreme Court – with the long-term goal of overturning Roe v. Wade – was definitely one motivator. Trump’s list of potential justices reassured many in this bloc who feared him.

— Trump’s Rust Belt and rural strategies were smarter than he got credit for. He really ran up the score outside of urban areas everywhere. Florida, his second home, was always a pretty good fit. He wound up outperforming Romney in 51 counties. Clinton outperformed Obama in just seven.

John Podesta leaves the stage after telling people at the Javits Convention Center to go home early this morning. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)
John Podesta leaves the stage after telling people at the Javits Convention Center to go home early this morning. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

— The Clinton campaign blew it. Top officials on the campaign became way too overconfident and complacent. They believed their own spin. They were measuring the drapes. They had too much confidence in their models, and they chastised anyone who doubted them as bedwetters. Hillary lost the primaries in Wisconsin and Michigan, but she invested little in shoring up her support there until the 11th hour. Her team clearly failed to see the race tightening in both places.

— Trump was helped in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by Republican Senate candidates running great campaigns. Ron Johnson campaigned with Trump. Pat Toomey avoided ever saying whether he’d vote for him or not. But both first-term incumbents invested heavily in get-out-the-vote efforts that wound up benefitting Trump. The Koch political network steered clear of the presidential but also invested massively in field programs to boost these down-ballot Republicans. Trump certainly helped both senators at the end of the day, but they also helped him.

Hillary Clinton acknowledges the crowd after delivering her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Hillary Clinton acknowledges the crowd after delivering her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

— Misogyny also remains alive and well in America. It would be intellectually dishonest to pretend that Clinton’s gender did not work against her as she sought to break the ultimate glass ceiling. Women have never been elected to the top jobs in Ohio and Pennsylvania (governor or senator), and you cannot discount the reality that at least some voters in those places were uncomfortable with a woman as president. Especially in Pennsylvania, where Katie McGinty narrowly lost to Toomey. (Until 2014, Iowa – another Trump state – was also in this ignominious category.)

— History was actually always on Trump’s side. One American University professor predicted a GOP victory this way.

The pendulum swings. America has a long history of replacing its presidents with someone who is temperamentally the opposite. The hot-headed and brash Trump is the un-Obama in almost every way. Obama, outwardly intellectual and cerebral, was perceived as the opposite of Bush 43, who went with his gut. He was seen as a reaction to Clinton, who was seen as a reaction to his father. Reagan was the un-Jimmy Carter. Nixon was the un-LBJ. Kennedy was the un-Eisenhower. Historian Arthur Schlesinger called this “cyclical theory.

— Just like in the 1930s, many Americans want to turn inward. The Republican coalition is not as hawkish as the neocons who have controlled the party. Elites freaked out about Trump saying the U.S. might not fulfill its obligations under the NATO charter. It’s hard to imagine that cost him a single vote.

//www.washingtonpost.com/video/c/embed/278a0018-a6bb-11e6-ba46-53db57f0e351

Speaking after his election victory Nov. 9, President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said the team was confident in their strategy throughout the campaign. (AP)

— Some number of Americans were ashamed to tell pollsters that they supported Trump. Pollsters will have a lot of explaining to do. Speaking to reporters last night, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway (a pollster by training) said “the undercover Trump vote” was real.

Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, both actors when they ran for governor of California, outperformed polls on Election Day for similar reasons.

There was evidence during the cycle that Trump fared better in online polls and robopolls than live-caller polls because people felt more anonymous when disclosing their preference. Call it the reverse Bradley Effect.

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Hillary and Bernie during a rally in Raleigh last Thursday night. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

IT IS TRUMP’S WASHINGTON NOW – WHAT’S NEXT?

— The Democratic Party is about to descend into full-scale civil war. It’s going to get very ugly. Who is the head of The Democratic Party come Jan. 21? Just like Bush leaving office in 2009 created a vacuum that allowed for the rise of the tea party movement, Obama leaving office will do the same. Many supporters of Sanders who very reluctantly got onboard the Clinton bandwagon are going to take from yesterday’s results that the Democratic Party must nominate an unapologetic and unabashed liberal in 2020. Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are going to have a whole lot more juice than they would have had Clinton won. There is also no obvious frontrunner for the nomination four years from now – which could mean an especially nasty primary contest.

The grassroots of the party will clamor for someone that really excites the left. Indeed, Clinton’s palpable enthusiasm problem cannot be overlooked. Her public image has taken a beating for years, and the protracted attacks took a toll. “It’s not the same as Obama,” a 55-year old Clinton supporter told the Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey while he waited around at Clinton’s “party” last night. “Obama was like a new car coming off the boat. This year you’re buying a used car where you know all the problems.” Again, this quote comes from someone who was at Clinton’s own party…

— But Trump’s victory may also be Pyrrhic. If he governs as he’s campaigned – if he tries to build the wall, if he blocks Muslims from entering the country, etc., etc., etc. – he may relegate Republicans to long-term minority status. People talk a lot about the lessons of Proposition 187 in California in 1994, which denied public services to undocumented immigrants and which Republican Gov. Pete Wilson latched onto to boost his reelection bid. What people forget is that Prop 187 passed and Wilson won. The Republican Party has just never recovered in the Golden State.

On the other hand, Trump has no clear ideology – only a belief in his own ability to solve problems. He could surprise a lot of people by being a pragmatist who cuts deals with fellow New Yorker Chuck Schumer, to the great chagrin of his base.

//www.washingtonpost.com/video/c/embed/86dc5762-a609-11e6-ba46-53db57f0e351

Delivering a victory speech in New York, President-elect Donald Trump thanked Hillary Clinton for her service and called for the nation to come together. (The Washington Post)

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

— “From the White House residence, the President phoned Donald Trump to congratulate him on his victory early this morning,” Josh Earnest said in a statement. “The President also called Secretary Clinton and expressed admiration for the strong campaign she waged throughout the country. The President will make a statement on Wednesday at the White House to discuss the election results and what steps we can take as a country to come together after this hard-fought election season. The President invited the President-elect to meet with him at the White House on Thursday, November 10th, to update him on the transition planning his team has been working on for nearly a year. Ensuring a smooth transition of power is one of the top priorities the President identified at the beginning of the year and a meeting with the President-elect is the next step.”

— Trump addressed supporters in New York shortly before 3 a.m., sounding a magnanimous note for reconciliation after Clinton called him to concede. From Karen Tumulty, Philip Rucker and Anne Gearan: “Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country,” Trump said. “I mean that very sincerely. Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division. We have to get together. To all Republicans, Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.” Under his administration, he said, “America will no longer settle for anything less than the best.” And he promised foreign countries that “while we were always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone,” adding: “We will seek common ground, not hostility.” He also thanked Melania and his children for their patience, saying, “This was tough. This was tough. This political stuff is nasty and it’s tough.” (Here’s an annotated transcript of Trump’s speech.)

— Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said Clinton’s concession call was “very gracious”: “I looked down at my phone and I saw Huma Abedin on it,” Conway told reporters, saying they both “commended each other on a well-fought campaign.”

— Paul Ryan called Trump early this morning to congratulate him, calling his victory a “repudiation of the status quo”: “I want to congratulate [Trump] on his incredible victory. It marks a repudiation of the status quo of failed liberal progressive policies,” Ryan said. “We are eager to work hand-in-hand with the new administration to advance an agenda to improve the lives of the American people. This has been a great night for our party, and now we must turn our focus to bringing the country together.”

— Mitch McConnell congratulated Trump on his “historic election”: “After eight years of the Obama administration, the American people have chosen a new direction for our nation. President-elect Trump has a significant opportunity to bring our nation together,” he said in a statement. “It is my hope and intent that we succeed in the years ahead by working together with our colleagues across the aisle to strengthen our national and economic security.”

A group of women react as voting results come in at Clinton's election night event at the Javits Convention Center in New York. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
A group of women react as voting results come in at Clinton’s election night event at the Javits Convention Center in New York. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

— A very different scene played out inside the Javits Center, where the “once-jovial atmosphere” grew darker and darker as the night wore on. “Senior Clinton aides, who had been circulating among the press risers, had long since disappeared and stopped answering their phones. The only Clinton staff in evidence as the 11 o’clock hour approached were fairly junior aides, looking nervous and uncertain. By midnight, supporters were streaming out the exits. Many of those who remained were in tears. ‘I’m actually speechless right now,’ said a dejected Julia Beatty, 38, who left the Javits Center with her Clinton sticker peeling off her leather jacket. ‘I just want to make it safely uptown so I can sob into a glass of wine.’”

— Hundreds of Clinton supporters who had gathered outside the White House to celebrate her victory stood in stunned silence as poll results began coming in.Here’s the vantage point of one: “Minister Carol Kelly, 64, and seminary student Bettina Hindes, came to Lafayette Park to help sing in what they thought would be a new Democratic regime. Their excitement quickly turned into depression. They sang along with the Avaaz activists — songs like ‘God Bless America.’ The hymns sounded more funereal than celebratory, however … Kelly, who is from College Park, said she had expected to ‘put this polarizing election behind us and move toward progress’ after the voting. ‘But I’m concerned if Trump is president we won’t get that. He’s so divisive,’ Kelly said. “It is so disheartening … It’s time to head home.’” (T. Rees Shapiro, Arelis R. Hernández and Jasper Scherer)

THE MARKETS TANK:

— Global financial markets convulsed as Trump steadily climbed to victory, with all three major stock market index futures down by four percent or more by late evening. From Ylan Q. Mui and Simon Denyer: “Dow Jones industrial average futures slid more than 700 points at one point. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index sank more than 100 points, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped over 200 points. Anxious investors sought out the safety of gold instead, sending the precious metal soaring 3.6 percent.” Global leaders were also rattled, with Japan’s Nikkei index plunging more than 800 points, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index losing 650 points. Meanwhile, the Mexican peso nosedived to an eight-year low.”

— “The possibility of a Trump victory makes investors anxious for a couple of reasons,” Max Ehrenfreund explains: “For one, investors are unsure of what, exactly, Trump would do if elected, since he wavered between various economic policies on the campaign trail. Moody Analytics’ Mark Zandi predicts if Trump were able to implement his agenda in full, the economy would enter a two-year recession and see unemployment rates spike to 7.4 percent.  Another cause for concern among economists is Trump’s proposal for heavy tariffs on goods imported from China and Mexico, reducing spending and slowing down the U.S. economy overall.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrates Trump's victory this morning in the Kremlin. (Sputnik)
Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrates Trump’s victory this morning in the Kremlin. (Sputnik)

THE WORLD RESPONDS:

— Vladimir Putin congratulated Trump, expressing his “hope to work together for removing Russian-American relations from their crisis state” in a telegram. Members of the largely pro-Kremlin house of parliament reportedly broke into applause after his victory. (AP)

— The world gasped in collective disbelief after Trump’s victory on Wednesday, with apprehensive allies seeking to put a brave face on a result they had dreaded and American adversaries exulting in an outcome they see as a potential turning point in global affairs, Simon Denyer and Griff Witte report. “Within minutes of Trump’s triumph, congratulatory messages to the Republican nominee poured in from leaders around the world, both friend and foe alike … But beneath the assurances was a deep anxiety that Trump’s win could unsettle the global order. The terms ‘shock’ and ‘nightmare,’ which were trending on Twitter in Germany, appeared to reflect the sentiment among many observers and politicians in Berlin. Concerns were also sharp in Brussels, the headquarters of NATO and the European Union, where Trump had been universally opposed, as well as in key Asian strategic allies such as Japan and South Korea. But China’s state media chortled at how the elections revealed the decline of American democracy. “The probably most divisive and scandalous election in American history has eroded voters’ faith in the two-party system, as many voters called it a game of money, power, and influence,” wrote state-run news agency Xinhua.”

— France’s National Front party leader Marine Le Pen warmly congratulated Trump on Wednesday, “Congratulations to the new president of the United States Donald Trump and to the free American people!” she said on Twitter. France’s National Front has been building support for its anti-immigration, anti-European Union stance in recent years, Reuters notes.

— The Vatican’s secretary of state cardinal wished Trump well, saying he would pray for the new incumbent to be “enlightened.” “We pledge to pray that God enlightens him and supports him in the service of his country of course, but also in the service of wellbeing and peace in the world,” Pietro Parolin said. “I think today everyone needs to work to change the global situation, which is one of deep laceration and serious conflict.” (Reuters)

— “Canada has no closer friend, partner, and ally than the United States,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement. “We look forward to working very closely with President-elect Trump, his administration, and with the United States Congress in the years ahead, including on issues such as trade, investment, and international peace and security.

— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Trump, calling him a “true friend of Israel”: “I am confident that President-elect Trump and I will continue to strengthen the unique alliance between our two countries and bring it to ever greater heights,” he said in a statement.

— “A Trump foreign policy, based on his statements, will bring an intense ‘realist’ focus on U.S. national interests and a rejection of costly U.S. engagements abroad,” Post foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius writes. “It will likely bring these changes”:

  • A move to improve relations with Russia:Trump stressed repeatedly during the campaign, at some political cost, that he would work with President Vladimir Putin.
  • A joint military effort with Russia and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to defeat ISIS:“If Russia and the United States got along well and went after ISIS, that would be good,” he said during the second presidential debate.
  • An attempt to alter the terms of trade in Asia by renegotiating trade pacts and forcing China to revalue its currency.
  • A new push for European allies to pay more for their own defense:“It’s unlikely that Trump will dismantle NATO, as critics charged during the campaign. But he never retreated from an April 27 speech in which he said ‘the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves,’ even if that means letting them acquire nuclear weapons.”
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio acknowledges the cheers from supporters after winning a second term in office. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio acknowledges the cheers from supporters after winning a second term in office. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

IT WAS THE BEST CASE SCENARIO FOR DOWN-BALLOT REPUBLICANS–

IN THE SENATE:

— Only Mark Kirk went down in Illinois, to Tammy Duckworth.

— Kelly Ayotte is clinging to a 1,500 vote lead in New Hampshire against Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, with 93 percent of votes counted.

— Pat Toomey won the most expensive Senate race ever in Pennsylvania.

— Richard Burr survived in North Carolina, running slightly ahead of Deborah Ross.

— Roy Blunt narrowly survived because Trump ran so strong in Missouri.

— John McCain coasted in Arizona.

— Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto will succeed Hary Reid in Nevada, becoming the first Latina senator ever.

— Kamala Harris, an African American woman, easily won the race to succeed Barbara Boxer in California.

AND IN THE HOUSE:

— Republicans also maintained a comfortable majority, poised to lose only a handful of seats that fall far below the double-digit losses predicted by some. From Mike DeBonis: “Democrats seized four redrawn, GOP-held districts in Florida and Virginia and ousted incumbents in a few more. But they could not unseat Republicans in key districts across the country, including suburban seats that they thought they could win easily with Trump on the ticket. In the Northern Virginia suburbs, Rep. Barbara Comstock (R) fended off a strong challenge that generated $6 million in television spending in the past week alone. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R) handily won a Miami-area district that Democrats targeted for months. And Rep. Mike Coffman (R) was able to separate himself from Trump in a diverse pocket of the Denver suburbs.”

— Democrats edged out victories in a few districts: “Reps. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) and Bob Dold (R-Ill.) lost, and Democrats claimed a pair of GOP-held seats in Nevada. In New Hampshire’s first district, Democrat Carol Shea-Porter defeated Republican incumbent Frank Guinta. But they struck out in many more.”

EXIT POLL BREAKDOWN:

— “The composition of the 2016 electorate was similar to that of the 2012 voting population. But Trump was performing exceptionally well among white voters, while Clinton was doing less well among nonwhite voters than [Obama] did four years ago,” per Rosalind S. Helderman, Philip Bump and Scott Clement. “In general, a pattern appeared to be taking hold across a number of key battleground states late Tuesday: In places where Obama won, Clinton appeared to be winning as well — but often by significantly less. Where Romney won, Trump won, too — but his margins were much bigger. Among nonwhite voters, Clinton led Trump by 54 points — a whopping advantage, but less than Obama’s 61-point lead four years ago.

— Across Florida, in counties that were under 60 percent white, Clinton was performing about 2.5 percentage points worse than Obama and Trump was doing a bit less than a percentage point better than Romney. “In counties that are three-quarters white, Clinton was down 4.8 points versus the president and Trump up 3.1 points,” Philip Bump notes. “And preliminary exit poll data shows that Trump got about as much support from Republicans as Clinton did from Democrats — not atypical for a presidential candidate, but something that seemed to be unlikely even a few weeks ago. Those same exit polls also suggest that Clinton’s margin among nonwhite voters was a little over 50 points, down from the 61-point margin Obama enjoyed in 2012. These margins are friendlier to Trump than they were expected to be.”

— There was a dramatic shift in party support at nearly every income level: “Historically, lower-income voters have tended to support Democrats, and wealthier voters leaned more Republican. But income correlates with education, which strongly divided voters this cycle,” NYT analysts noted.

Trump supporters cheer during the election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Trump supporters cheer during the election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

MORE ON HOW TRUMP DID IT:

— “How Trump won: The insiders tell their story,” In four dozen interviews over the course of this year’s presidential campaign, Dan Balz and Philip Rucker chronicle Trump’s rise to success: “By the spring of this year, it was clear that Americans were heading into one of the ugliest, most consequential and often bizarre presidential campaigns in memory. Donald Trump would become the improbable Republican nominee, and Democrat Hillary Clinton the first woman to head a major-party ticket. Their clash challenged Americans to confront divisions over race, gender, ideology and our very national identity. This is how the race unfolded, as retold by the people who lived it. This oral history is based on four dozen on-the-record interviews with campaign advisers and other key players, conducted during the final two weeks.”

–“Rejected by the elites from the very start of his career as a real estate developer in Manhattan in the 1970s, Trump had a lifetime of resentments that he had reacted to with searing attacks against his enemies and often-successful revenge plays against those who believed they were better than he,” says The Post’s Marc Fisher.“The big real estate developer families in New York had long sneered at Trump as a brash, nasty, nouveau riche intruder on a business that took pride in doing things quietly and diplomatically. The banks treated him like an out-of-control adolescent who needed to be reined in and taught a lesson. The politicians humored him, then scrambled to be by his side to catch some of his reflected fame. Trump beat them all back, again and again, by appealing to the people, his customers, his admirers. On Tuesday, he reached [the] final step in a half-century-long ascent.

What he plans to do with his newfound power, even he does not know: “Asked earlier this year if he has spent much time preparing to actually be president, Trump admitted that his focus had been solely on the campaign. ‘I’m all about the hunt and the chase,’ he said. ‘When I get something I really wanted, I sometimes lose interest in it.’ Trump has 73 days until his inauguration.”

— “How the stampede for big money enabled Donald Trump’s rise,” by Matea Gold:“The hunt for big dollars began in January 2015 outside Palm Springs, Calif. … [where] the emerging crop of Republican presidential candidates jockeyed to impress the millionaires and billionaires who make up the Koch political network.  In the end, there would be plenty of big checks to go around. And rich benefactors, it turned out, would have a limited ability to keep their chosen candidates aloft. But the all-consuming pursuit of mega-donors had a deeper, more fundamental effect on the 2016 presidential race. The magnet of six- and seven-figure contributions tugged at the early White House front-runners in both parties, reshaping their political strategies and their early priorities. It drew them away from the campaign trail, leaving them vulnerable to the fiercely populist mood gripping voters — and to a candidate on the GOP side, Donald Trump, uniquely positioned to harness that anger …”

— “What Trump has done is nothing short of cataclysmic,” Chris Cillizza writes. “He has fundamentally reshaped the political map. He has broken the Republican Party into pieces — and its shards still remain scattered everywhere. He has proven that the political polling and punditry industries need a deep re-examination. But, even more than all that, Trump’s victory reveals that many of the assumptions that people have long made about who we are as a country and what we want out of our politicians, our political system and each other are, frankly, wrong.”

“Trump’s candidacy was premised on the idea that everyone — politicians, reporters, corporations — is lying to you, and lying to you to to feather their own nests,” Chris adds. It was a Holden Caulfield campaign: Everyone, except Trump and his supporters, were phonies. In short: Trump played on the deep alienation and anxiety coursing through the country. A prevailing sense that things were so screwed up that radical change — and make no mistake that is what Trump cast himself as in this contest — was the only option left. How Trump happened then, while remarkable, can be understood and analyzed. What Trump will do as president is a far more difficult question to answer.”

— “Big elections are supposed to help settle some of (the big) disputes, or at least point a direction for the new leader,” Balz writes. “Yet, as the campaign ended Tuesday, the question remained as to what had been resolved, if anything. Everyone knew the campaign was unlike anything they had seen in the past. Everyone wanted it to end. Now it falls to Trump, the unlikely winner of the most traumatic election in memory, to chart the course ahead and try, if he can, to prove that he can lift the whole country out of its morass and make Washington work.”

— “Usually elections bring a measure of closure … [But] you wonder if anyone will even bother this time,” Mark Leibovich writes in the Times. “At the very least, I’ll offer a small proposal, take it or leave it. Maybe the purest act of patriotism involves well-meaning citizens redoubling their efforts at being respectful, compassionate and decent in their everyday lives. It’s what we can control, after all, our small gift to democracy, beyond all the noise and fallout that our politics inflicted in 2016. We toast to our endurance and maybe our resilience, too. We survived the rough trip to Nov. 8, and now we unpack.”

— “The new president will face immense and unrelenting challenges from Day One,”The Post’s Editorial Board writes. “He inherits a world in which liberal democracy is in retreat and U.S. leadership is doubted. The Middle East is in turmoil, North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is growing, Russia and China are flexing their muscles. At home, President Obama bequeaths an economy in generally good health but facing problems: slow growth, stubborn inequality, long-term stress on the federal budget. … Americans are not and have never been united by blood or creed, but by allegiance to a democratic system of government that shares power, cherishes the rule of law and respects the dignity of individuals. We hope our newly elected president will show respect for that system. Americans must stand ready to support him if he does, and to support the system whether he does or does not.”

— “Baker Melissa Alt showed up unbidden at Trump Tower on Election Day with a 40-pound cake in the form of a Donald Trump bust … But there was something wrong with the chocolate confection,” Dana Milbank writes. “Alt was aiming to reproduce Trump’s pout, but she wound up making him look startled and sad. After Tuesday night, that’s the exact expression worn by tens of millions of Americans and countless more across the globe. When [John Podesta] appeared … on the Fox News screens in the room to say Clinton wasn’t yet conceding, Trump’s supporters punched fists in the air and raised middle fingers at the screens. More cases of beer were wheeled in. Next to the bar, the Trump cake still looked worried. Maybe the human Trump should worry, too. He stirred up racial and religious hatred and stoked gender and class resentments, validated conspiracy theorists and the racist alt-right, employed a vast oeuvre of untruths and promised followers an unachievable agenda. How does he govern now?”

— “On Saturdays in synagogues across the United States, Jews recite a prayer for our country. In my synagogue, the custom is that the congregation stands, and says the prayer in unison,” Post columnist Ruth Marcus writes. “Until [Trump’s] run for the presidency, this moment in the liturgy felt like boilerplate. It was a nice expression of patriotism; certainly, in the edgy days after Sept. 11, our country felt in need of joint and fervent prayer. But its exhortations to justice and tolerance seemed superfluous. No one could disagree with them. Until Trump, and Trump’s divisive rhetoric, upended the assumption that politicians of both parties share an essential platform of agreement on matters of basic decency, of respect for those of other religions and backgrounds … And until Trump’s election made the prayer for our country all the more relevant — and all the more imperative.”

Trump supporters cheer during the election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Mike Voss high-fives Jim Geldrich as they hear a television report projecting Trump winning Wisconsin in West Bend, Wis. (John Ehlke/West Bend Daily News via AP)

COVERAGE FROM THE BATTLEGROUNDS:

— “Trump’s victory in Wisconsin makes him the first Republican since 1984 to carry the state,” the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Craig Gilbert writes. “According to exit polls, 63% of voters [view him unfavorably]. But 21% of those voters who dislike him still voted for him — a testament to their hunger to shake things up.” White, blue-collar voters made up the demographic core of Trump’s support, supporting him by far larger margins (31 points) than Romney in 2012 (8 points.)  “The most staggering divide Tuesday was the one between white college women (Clinton won them by 21 points) and white non-college men (Trump won them by 44 points). That gap was twice as big as it was in the 2012 presidential race. Trump also won rural voters by 29 points — far more than Romney four years ago, capturing a long list of small counties that [Obama] won in both of his elections.

— “Across [Iowa], election returns suggest Trump comfortably carried Republican areas while making significant gains in toss-up counties and places where Democrats previously ran up meaningful margins,” the Des Moines Register’s Jason Noble writes. “Clinton won the state’s urban centers but badly underperformed Obama’s victories in 2012 … [Meanwhile], Trump nearly won in Scott County — the county containing Iowa’s Quad Cities that Obama won by almost 14 percentage points four years ago. Trump cruised to victory in Des Moines County — a Mississippi River county encompassing the old industrial city of Burlington that Obama won by better than 18 points in 2012. It was a similar story in Jasper County, a blue-collar county that Obama carried by more than 7 percentage points.In Iowa’s five northwestern-most counties, the state’s social-conservative heartland where Republicans routinely win with 70 percent of the vote or better, Trump outpaced the party’s 2012 showing.

— Trump’s Florida victory was a “microcosm” of what unfolded nationwide.From Politico’s Marc Caputo: “Despite losing big to Clinton in diverse, urban areas of south Florida, Trump dominated in every other corner of the state and outperformed past Republican candidates with older, white and blue collar voters. Despite [Clinton’s] large margins in Miami/Dade County and Broward County, Trump ran up the score elsewhere in the state — from the Deep South Panhandle to the interior of Florida to peninsula’s southwest, a bastion of working-class whites and retirees from the Midwest. … By the end of the night, Trump’s lead was so big that, even if turnout in Florida was modeled at 80 percent – far higher than recent elections – Clinton would still not win if she beat Trump by double digits.”

 — The Raleigh News and Observer’s Tim Funk: “The polls that forecast a close race and the targeted wooing by the candidates and their campaigns were testaments to the fact that North Carolina is a rapidly changing state – demographically and politically. But North Carolina was a sea of Republican red as Trump carried virtually all of the suburban and rural counties outside the state’s big cities, including some that [Obama] won in 2012.

People embrace at Clinton's election night event at the Javits Center in New York. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
People embrace at Clinton’s election night event at the Javits Center in New York. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

LET THE MEDIA CRITICISM BEGIN:

— “To put it bluntly, the media missed the story,” Post columnist Margaret Sullivan writes. “In the end, a huge number of American voters wanted something different. And although these voters shouted and screamed it, most journalists just weren’t listening. They didn’t get it. They didn’t get that the huge, enthusiastic crowds at [Trump’s] rallies would really translate into that many votes. They couldn’t believe that the America they knew could embrace someone who mocked a disabled man, bragged about sexually assaulting women, and spouted misogyny, racism and anti-Semitism. It would be too horrible. … Trump — who called journalists scum and corrupt — alienated us so much that we couldn’t see what was before our eyes. We just kept checking our favorite prognosticating sites, and feeling reassured, even though everyone knows that poll results are not votes. Make no mistake. This is an epic fail. And although eating crow is never appealing, we’ll be digesting feathers and beaks in the next weeks and months — and maybe years. The strange thing, of course, is that the media helped to give Trump his chance.”

… Except for a handful of fringe-right news outlets that, at all odds, had correctly predicted the movement all along. From Paul Farhi: “Election Day began hopefully for the clarions of the right, the conservative media outlets that have championed Trump’s long-shot candidacy for months and hated on Hillary Clinton for years. “Trump could win, they said. Trump would win, they asserted — a breast-beating prediction with more than a little vested interest behind it. A Trump victory, after all, would boost the prestige and profile of the conservative media and make de facto establishment figures out of some of its leading journalists. And slowly at first, the poll- defying assertions began to seem like prescience as the evening wore on.”

— The Huffington Post ended its editor’s note calling Trump a “serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther” that for months had accompanied every Trump article posted on the site. A staff note note from Huffpost’s Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim on Tuesday evening said the decision to remove the note was for a “clean slate”. “The thinking is that (assuming he wins) that he’s now president and we’re going to start with a clean slate,” Grim said. “If he governs in a racist, misogynistic way, we reserve the right to add it back on. This would be giving respect to the office of the presidency which Trump and his backers never did.” (Politico)

George W. Bush visits with SMU students after flipping the coin on the field before a college football game last Saturday. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
George W. Bush visits with SMU students after flipping the coin on the field before a college football game last Saturday. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

WHAT’S THE FUTURE OF THE GOP?

— George W. and Laura Bush left the presidential spot blank on the ballot and voted straight-ticket Republican down the ballot, a spokesman said. (Texas Tribune)

— Ohio governor and outspoken Trump critic John Kasich will give a speech in Washington on Thursday, outlining his vision for the future of the Republican Party after 2016. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

— New York Times conservative columnist Ross Douthat“On the global stage Trump’s populism and nationalism makes him very much a man of his times, with parallels to figures as diverse as Marine Le Pen, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and of course Vladimir Putin. But in the American context he is like nothing we have seen before — a shatterer of all norms and conventional assumptions, a man more likely to fail catastrophically than other presidents, more constitutionally dangerous than other presidents, but also more likely to carry us into a different political era, a post-neoliberal, post-end-of-history politics, than any other imaginable president. I retract none of the warnings that I issued about the likelihood of catastrophe and crisis on his watch. But he will be our president … So we must hope that he has the wit to be more than a wrecker, more than a demagogue, and that his crude genius can actually be turned, somehow, to the common good. And if that hope is dashed, we must find ways to resist him — all of us, right and left, in the new chapter of American history that has opened very unexpectedly tonight.”

— “It’s 2009 all over again. Except this time Republicans are in charge and Democrats have been run over,” Politico’s John Bresnahan and John Burgess Everett write. “Tuesday’s astonishing victory means everything’s on the table for Republicans: Tilting the Supreme Court in a conservative direction for years to come, repealing Obamacare, overhauling the tax code, boosting defense spending, tearing up trade deals and cutting regulations. Some of this Republicans will be able to do under ‘reconciliation,’ the special parliamentary procedure that Democrats used to enact the Affordable Care Act on a party line vote in 2010. Now Republicans can ‘reverse engineer’ Obamacare with Democrats powerless to stop it. Tax reform, another GOP dream dashed during the Obama years, could also happen under this process. Republicans are looking at an open-ended opportunity next year to reshape American policy across an array of issue areas and the Supreme Court, with a vacancy ready to be filled due to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s blockade of [Merrick Garland]. That nomination is now a moot point.”

Source: The Washington Post 

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