Presidential Elections: Strategies and Structures of American Politics

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Presidential Elections

Lichtman, a quantitative historian and a professor of history at American University in Washington, D. Success, right? Ah, but wait!

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The Keys model forecasts the popular vote, not the electoral vote. Clinton won the popular vote — narrowly, but she won, as much of her lead evaporated in the last two weeks before the election. So the model was right, after all, but not in the way Lichtman interpreted it.

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However, as Lichtman is quick to point out, predictive models have to be correct ahead of time, not in retrospect. He called Key 4 against Clinton when Johnson was polling above 10 percent, consistent with how he has interpreted the third-party key in past years. In close elections, the Democrats always have an edge in the popular vote because of the huge margins they can run up in a few big states, notably California and New York.


So far, nobody has commented on how that relationship has changed. At least Lichtman deserves credit for consistently insisting the election would be close. More important, this election indicates more strongly than ever that general satisfaction or dissatisfaction with how things are going eventually overwhelms specific events in the campaign.

All the precedents are out the window. If a candidate like Trump can win, anyone can. On the other hand, one thing this election clearly does is cast serious doubt on the polls. John Zogby, a senior partner at John Zogby Strategies and one of the most accurate pollsters for the past 30 years, saw the problem coming. If we get around million votes, as we did in and , Hillary wins.

If we get million, as we did in , Trump wins. We actually got around million, giving Clinton about a 2 million vote lead. Shortly after Election Day, with million votes counted, her lead was closer to , Several million non-voters, particularly Democratic-leaning people in the north central states, helped tip those states to Trump. The week of Oct. Another person who called it right, surprisingly, was film director Michael Moore, who said in July that anger and frustration among white male skilled workers, mostly union members, in the north central industrial states could tip those states — Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania — away from Hillary Clinton.

He was far from alone — according to some unconfirmed reports, the state Democratic chairs and Bill Clinton were trying to convey the same message to Hillary and urging her to push in those states with a strong economic message. She had never appeared in Wisconsin during the general election campaign, and she had skipped the traditional Labor Day Democratic campaign rally in Cadillac Square in Detroit.

There are a couple of other factors that have apparently escaped notice so far. Zogby, who now focuses more on business targeting, sees a marked tendency toward tribalization in America: that is, Americans identify more and more with virtual tribes of like-minded people, and less and less with region, party or other traditional organizational structures [5]. Interestingly, he did not apply his tribalism analysis to the election, but he does see the relevance.

Forecasting the Presidential Election: What can we learn from the models?

One of the reasons he got the turnout effect more accurately than most pollsters is that he used, among other sampling frames, weekly Walmart shoppers. This tendency goes along with a rapidly declining number of competitive congressional districts, as reapportionments tend to create mostly safe districts for one party or the other.

This also means that strong partisan views by voters get reinforced rather than broadened or moderated by their representatives. This change in the structure of electorate is closely related to change in communications.

Many social media sites have algorithms that direct to the user more content similar to what they have been viewing, reinforcing insularity and strong partisan views. Possibly most polls, still relying heavily on telephones and email, missed the shift in some parts of the populace to a reliance on social media, especially Twitter. Trump, a master salesman, used social media more effectively than Clinton, both for messaging and for analytics. Although Hillary Clinton and the Democrats learned much from Obama and others, the question of how well they used social media and related analytics will no doubt feed some lively discussions, both among political staffs and scholars, for the next few years.

Looking again at the increasing insularity of large blocs of voters, the reinforcing effects various media and the decreasing importance of policy issues, it seems that this election also provided dramatic confirmation for one more analyst: Marshall McLuhan. As early as , in his penetrating analysis of the election, he noted the ascendance of style over content because of the new visual medium TV and foretold the still-accelerating changes in politics [8].

People who listened to the Kennedy-Nixon debates on the radio thought Nixon won. People who watched on TV thought Kennedy won. There we mapped out a program in which all of the Johnson cabinet and major White House staff members would brief their incoming counterparts as often as was desired by the new administration.

My charge was to work with Haldeman, who became my successor at the White House, to make sure these briefings occurred across the new administration and in a timely fashion. One surprise was that Nixon told me that Mitchell could speak for him in all matters if he was not available. Johnson would have never delegated such authority, but that was the difference in the management style of the two men.

He was issuing orders and making appointments right up to the morning of the Inauguration. In fact, the day before the Inauguration the president told me to find out how many vacancies existed on commissions and boards and find good people that he could nominate. He kept Nixon waiting in the Blue Room on Inauguration morning while he signed those nominations which required Senate confirmation and had them delivered to the Congress before noon.

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It is a positive sign that President Obama invited Donald J. Trump to meet at the White House two days after this most contentious election. Today transitions are much more institutional now than our first one in But this process can heal many wounds and start bringing our country closer together. We jumped into the car and headed to the Capitol. I hope the ride to the Capitol next January will be more substantive on policy. James R. By Sarah Jaffe. They may conceal white resentment of the perceived advancement past them of black and Latino people. But the past eight years sped all that up and made it impossible to ignore.

The Living Room Candidate

If Donald J. Trump stood out to voters from the rest of the Republican Party, aside from a willingness to say directly the kinds of things usually carefully dogwhistled, it was in his rants about trade and his lack of interest in dismantling the remnants of the welfare state. For white Americans anxiously looking at their disappearing stability, Mr. Trump was a bomb they were willing to throw at a system they felt was failing them.

He emotionally echoed their outrage and gave them a place to direct their anger, the age-old right-wing populist trick of refracting it both upward at elites and downward at minorities. The results show that it did not. To be sure, Democrats had an uneasy line to walk, between maintaining continuity with a still-popular, twice-elected Barack Obama — a continuity that won Mrs.

Clinton the Democratic primary — and reaching the people who wanted and needed change. Clinton was a colossal misreading of a moment when rage at the establishment of both parties was simmering everywhere. That rage should have been visible as Mr. Clinton much harder than anyone had expected a gray-haired socialist from Vermont to do. But Mrs.

Clinton opened her arms to disaffected Republicans rather than wooing the disaffected within and around her own party. Most of the television ads she ran were more about painting Trump as a dangerous aberration, an outsider unfit for office, than pitching any plan of her own for change. Democrats failed to realize that for many Trump voters, that was exactly what they liked about him. By Will Wilkinson.

It may not be an exaggeration to say that Donald Trump both knows and cares less about the details of public policy than anyone ever elected president of the United States.

Politics is, at bottom, about factions vying and coordinating to choose leaders in whom to invest authority. Throughout the campaign, Mr. In Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump drew a general election opponent pre-weakened by a decades-long Republican campaign of delegitimization. Clinton as a member of an arrogant and corrupt elite that believes it is above the law.

But Mr. Trump seems to have an intuitive understanding that glamour, celebrity and gaudy wealth are key ingredients in majesty — which is inherently authoritative and underwrites its own claim to legitimacy. It was a purple silk, ermine-fringed cape, Air Force One in waiting, and he knew how to use it.