(Bloomberg View) — Yes, Donald Trump has been elected as the 45th president of the United States.
First off, the polls were wrong — not by a huge amount, but by about 3 percent or so (we won’t have the final figure until votes from California and other mail-in states, most of which lean strongly to the Democrats, are counted over the next several days). And, yes, a lot of pundits and prognosticators and insiders were wrong, too.
I don’t know why. Neither does anyone else.
We don’t know if the reason was the late-stage flare-up of the e-mail story, with FBI Director James Comey’s action or the reaction of the media responsible for dooming Hillary Clinton. Or if it was her strategy: Did she contest the wrong states or otherwise misallocate her time and resources? Or maybe it was Trump’s strategy.
We don’t know if it was economic uncertainty or the third-party candidates. We don’t know if it was a combined effect of Republican attacks on unions in Wisconsin and on black voting in North Carolina. No, we don’t know if it was “racism.” Yes, there were bigots for Trump, and they were vocal, but we don’t even know if more of them went for Trump than voted for John McCain and Mitt Romney.
About the only thing I can argue at this point, and even it probably needs more research, is the uselessness of early spending on television ads. Clinton pounded Trump for months, and it’s hard to believe this election would have been remotely close if those ads — which seemed to be perfectly fine — had much of an effect.
Beyond that? Understanding election results takes time. Don’t believe those who think they already have the answers, whether they were correct coming in to the election or not.
One thing is certain. The election, with Republicans winning unified control of Congress and the White House, is a disaster for Democrats and all the policies they support.
Donald Trump supporters react as they watch the election results during Trump’s election night rally in New York. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Is it a disaster for American democracy? That depends, above all, on the Republican Party.
Trump remains a wild card. The truly frightening things about his candidacy — bigotry, sexism, and what appeared to be authoritarianism — might be a central part of his presidency. If they are, Democrats will oppose him (as they will oppose whatever “normal” Republican policies Trump and Republicans in Congress propose). But they won’t have the ability to stop him.