On Tuesday night, against the odds, against the weight and wealth of the Clinton/Obama/union attack machine, against the predictions of every pollster in the United States, Donald J. Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States. And it wasn’t even close in the electoral college. Here are the key takeaways.
1. Trump Totally Outperformed Romney & Hillary Totally Underperformed Obama. Trump won and Hillary lost many states Obama won and Romney lost in 2012: Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and he may win Michigan. This may be due, in part, to Trump’s emphasis on NAFTA, manufacturing jobs, outsourcing, “sticking it” to countries that cheat on trade, etc. When the exit polls are analyzed, it will likely show that Trump brought back into the GOP tent millions of “Reagan Democrats” of yesterday, blue collar Americans whose economic aspirations don’t align with the progressive sentiments of the coastal elites who run the Democratic party.
2. America Didn’t Want 4 More Years of Obama. Hillary can blame her loss on whatever she wants, but the chief culprit may be her intended continuity: keeping Obamacare; pursuing immigration amnesty; destroying the economy to address “climate change;” increased use of executive orders; appointing liberal judges to the Supreme Court; increasing refugees from failed Muslim states; higher taxes and more regulations. Americans saw this and said, “We’re not with her.”
3. History Can Wait (for Hillary, Thanks to her Scandals). We won’t know this for a few days, but it’s likely that average Americans, those who don’t obsessively read Politico and memorize the RealClearPolitics daily polling average, were swayed by the endless litany of scandals: from Benghazi, to the Clinton Foundation, to her emails, to say nothing of her and Bill’s scandals from the 1990s. Trump had no greater friend in the closing weeks than Wikileaks.
Trump may have been right when he said during the debates that what he has said is nothing compared to what she has done over the last 30 years. As a result, Hillary will not be the first female president, a development that would have set a terrible precedent, both for women and for our country. On the heels of the epic failure of Obama’s historic presidency, it is clear Americans were not in the mood to make any more history.
Thus, Hillary didn’t come close to matching Obama’s 2008 performance, when Obama won over 69 million votes and 365 Electoral College votes. Hillary has won (at this writing) a little more than 59 million votes and 218 Electoral College votes.
4. The Polls & Predictions Were Wrong. In 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012, the national polls were generally accurate and predicted the outcomes within a few points. 2016 broke the mold. Heading into Tuesday, the New York Times gave Hillary an 84% chance to win the presidency. Nate Silver at 538 offered a similar projection. Further, most polls gave Democrats the edge to retake the Senate.
As Trump won state after state, and the anchors at CNN and MSNBC started coming unglued, it became obvious that, for perhaps many reasons, polls are simply incapable of capturing the national sentiment. The fruit of this sentiment was key GOP Senate retentions: Marco Rubio in Florida; Richard Burr in North Carolina; Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania; Roy Blunt in Missouri; Rob Portman of Ohio, and most surprisingly, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin. (As of this writing, Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire is narrowly trailing her opponent.) Each defied conventional wisdom, perhaps due to Trump carrying their states.
5. America Is Willing to Roll the Dice. Continuing the trend of veering wildly from one side of the political spectrum to the other (electing Bill Clinton after Bush 41, Obama after Bush 43), the country that twice elected Barack Obama, the hyper liberal community organizer with no leadership experience, has elected Donald Trump, the politically inconsistent billionaire real estate developer and reality TV star with no political experience, and, perhaps as importantly, given him a Republican controlled House and Senate. Trump thus finds himself in the same position as Obama in 2009: his party controls it all.
As a result, Trump will be able to name at least one Supreme Court justice right away (Mitch McConnell now looks like a genius for stonewalling Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland), and he may get one or two more appointments over the next four years. If Trump sticks to his published list of intended Supreme Court nominees, the Court will be considerably more conservative for the next 30 years, and may correct the legal errors of the last 8 years on Obamacare, marriage, religious freedom, affirmative action, environmental regulations, and other issues.
If Trump holds to his campaign promises (we’ll see), much of the Obama legacy, enacted through executive orders, will be undone through Trump’s executive orders, including the Iran nuclear deal, the so-called Clean Power Plan to address “climate change,” the dubious immigration orders granting amnesty and government benefits, bathroom regulations, and government contracting rules. First up on the legislative chopping block should be the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Obama’s first bill, followed by Obamacare and the Dodd Frank financial regulation debacle.
Trump has done America a great service by keeping the Clintons out of the White House for a second time. If he does nothing more than appoint a true Constitutional conservative (or two) to the Court, overturn Obama’s executive orders and repeal Obamacare, his election and presidency will be a success. Here’s hoping he follows through on his campaign promises.
Garrett Fahy is an attorney in Orange County, California. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org