How the Trump win surprised everyone - including Trump

Even Trump campaign expected Clinton to win election, gave their nominee just a 30% chance of victory.

David Rosenberg,

Donald Trump celebrates election with Reince Priebus
Donald Trump celebrates election with Reince Priebus
Reuters

Donald Trump’s stunning upset victory last Tuesday stunned media outlets, pollsters, political analysts, and millions of Clinton supporters who had confidently predicted a Democratic win.

The surprising Republican defeat of the former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defied mainstream political prognosticators, most of whom saw a Clinton win as all but certain.

On Election Day The New York Times gave Clinton an 85% chance of winning – and that was one of the most generous towards Mr. Trump, with only Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight giving him better odds, showing a 71% chance of a Clinton win.

The Huffington Post, by comparison gave Clinton a 98% chance, while the Princeton Election Consortium had the Democrat at a virtual lock with better than a 99% chance of winning. PredictWise and the Daily Kos fared little better, putting Clinton’s chances at 89% and 92% respectively.

After the election, explanations and apologies for the miss rolled in, with Larry Sabato writing “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa,” after confidently predicting Trump would lose the electoral college 216 – 322. Trump won 306 to 232.

Even Trump’s supporters say they were surprised by the results, with 62% telling a Gallup poll after the election that they had not anticipated a Trump win. Seventy-five percent of all adults were surprised by the Trump victory.

But that surprise was not limited to Trump’s supporters – the Trump campaign itself had long predicted that Clinton was the favorite to win.

While like most campaigns, Team Trump projected confidence that their candidate would win, behind closed doors their own data showed the odds were against him.

“Trump’s own data team actually projected him losing this race in 93 out of 100 scenarios,” Megan Murphy told Bloomberg Businessweek.

As Trump’s polling hit rock-bottom three weeks ahead of the election, his campaign estimated he had just a 7.8% chance of winning.

While FBI chief James Comey’s announcement 10 days later on the renewal of an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for handling classified emails gave the Trump campaign a meaningful boost, even on the eve of the election, the Trump team showed their candidate with just a 30% chance of winning, Bloomberg reported.

A few staff members, however, had radiated optimism while the campaign’s own numbers suggested Clinton was on her way to victory.

Brad Parscale, the campaign’s digital guru, was consistently bullish on Trump’s odds.

"By the Friday before the election, I had predicted that we were gonna win 305 electoral votes," he told Fox News' Megyn Kelly on Tuesday, regarding a prediction that would ultimately be just one shy of the actual result of 306 electoral votes.

"[On the] Friday [before the election], I was 95% sure [of a Trump win], Sunday I was even more. I got more nervous Tuesday morning because I knew so much, I just had to wait."


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