The election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States stunned the Hillary Clinton campaign, millions of her supporters and, indeed, much of the world.
And as much as anyone, pollsters and data cruncher who had given Clinton blow-away odds of winning the presidency were left reeling -- and wiping egg off their faces.
But not everyone.
For months, the USC/L.A. Times tracking poll has been the joke of the polling community because it was seeing Trump with 5-point or 6-point leads. On Tuesday, its final forecast gave the GOP nominee a 3-point edge.
As the Los Angeles Times, which had been criticized for running the poll, said Wednesday, the findings suggested in August that a Trump victory depended on the turnout of white voters in key states who had stayed home in the 2012 election. More specifically, it “represented the views of those voters more than other surveys” and pointed out how much of Trump’s strength was dependent on white men. While the final results were not exactly what the poll predicted – Clinton appears to have won the popular vote by about 1.2 points – the poll did indeed capture the dynamic that contributed to Trump’s Electoral College win.
The LA Times tracking poll wasn’t the only one calling a victory for Trump.
Allan Lichtman, distinguished professor of history at American University and author of Predicting the Next President: The Keys to the White House 2016, stuck with his forecast of a Trump win even after the New York mogul and reality TV star was caught talking about how easy it is for a “star” to grope women, and then was accused of actually doing that by a parade of women who came forward.
Lichtman’s system has correctly predicted the results of eight elections from 1984 to 2012. His method is based on 13 “keys” -- true/false statements about various aspects of society and the campaign. As he told The Washington Post 11 days before the election: “The keys basically assess the strength and performance of the party holding the White House … An answer of true on these true/false questions always favors the reelection of the party in power. And if six or more of the 13 keys are false, the party in power, the party holding the White House, is the predicted loser.” Lichtman said in this election, six keys pointed to a Trump victory.
Perhaps the most surprising predictor of a Trump victory was the filmmaker and progressive gadfly Michael Moore. In July, on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, he said: “I sorry to have to be the buzz-killer here … but I think Trump is going to win … I live in Michigan, let me tell you, it’s going to be the Brexit strategy.” Moore, whose movie Trumpland came out just before the election, said central England is a lot like Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which have a total of 64 Electoral College votes. He said Mitt Romney lost those states in 2012, but if Trump won them, he’d be in.
In fact, it looks as though Trump will win all of them (Michigan hasn't been called yet).
On MSNBC today, veteran Washington pollster Peter Hart told Hallie Jackson that part of the problem with polling in this election was that “it’s much harder to get people to respond. Our response rate is now under 10 percent.”
That means, said Hart, we’re missing 90 percent of the people.