Getting it Wrong

Or…Revisiting my Prediction Model

It’s worth looking back to try to understand why I got my Presidential Prediction so wrong.  I take no comfort that virtually every Pundit and pollster got it wrong.  After all, they don’t care, are usually wrong anyway, and have no record to protect.  I do have a record, and it’s been a pretty good one until November 8th.  Not that I’m complaining mind you.  I’m (still) over the moon at The Trumpening.  Election night was like a dream, and as the kids say, a dream is a wish your heart makes.  By the way by “kids” I’m not referring to millennials, I mean actual little kids.

But I did make a prediction…that Donald Trump wouldn’t win.  Back in August, I said this:

“Trump is deliberately using language that can be construed in the worse possible way in order to generate publicity.  With decades of experience at being a celebrity, he has taken to heart the publicist adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity.  And in terms of generating publicity, he’s been an outstanding success if you count it by minutes of airtime or lines of copy in print.  Certainly there would have been zero media coverage discussing poor decisions by the Obama administration leading to the creation of ISIS without Trump.  Getting those issues out there and forcing a hostile media to talk about issues they don’t want to discuss is also a success.

However in politics, that isn’t reflected in the polls.  Kanye West is great at generating publicity for him, but at the cost of it being almost uniformly bad publicity.  This may be a great strategy for getting on Page 6, but it’s a terrible one if your goal is to win a general election.  So my reason for not making a prediction on the election earlier was because I thought that Trump could easily fix his problems; stop attacking other Republicans, stick to prepared speeches and stump speeches, ease off twitter, and his polling would go back up because after all, people really don’t like Hillary Clinton and would love for an excuse not to vote for her.  But Trump thinks that generating unfavorable publicity is the ticket to success, and as long as he both thinks and acts like it is, Hillary Clinton is the next President.”

But something happened in the final few weeks of the campaign.  Trump started taking my advice (well…delivered by Kellyanne Conway).  He did stop attacking other Republicans, he stuck to prepared speeches, and somehow, someone got hold of his phone and locked him out of twitter.  All things that started to allow Trump to start rising again in the polls.  For sure, there were outside factors that helped too.  FBI Director Comey reopening the email investigation for half a minute was too much for some wavering Clinton voters to handle.   The fact that he closed it again almost as soon as he reopened it didn’t fix the damage.  Even the Clinton campaign realized that.

So what made Trump change direction and start doing things he should have been doing ever since the Republican convention?  I can only imagine that he finally realized that he was close to becoming a loser, the worst thing imaginable in Trumpland, and Conway and other assorted advisors were giving him a pathway to avoid the hated L word.

And it worked.

Does this make me look again at my underlying factum regarding elections?  No, I think my “demography is destiny” thesis is still sound.  The white share of the electorate will probably be 68% in 2020, 2% less than 2016.  That makes it a much harder slog for Republicans then, regardless of any other underlying issues or current events of the campaign.  However as I’ve stated previously, Donald Trump, a totally unconventional candidate in almost every way, is a Black Swan Event.  And as a commenter stated, “Black Swans matter.”  But the election of Trump throws trends up in the air.  As Yoda might say: “Difficult to see.  Always in motion is the future.”