Clinton 232
image description
Trump 306
image description
Click for Senate
Dem 48
image description
GOP 52
image description
  • Strongly Dem (182)
  • Likely Dem (18)
  • Barely Dem (33)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (90)
  • Likely GOP (45)
  • Strongly GOP (170)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: (None)
Dem pickups vs. 2012: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2012: FL IA MI OH PA WI

Are you unhappy with the election results?

If you are thinking of leaving the country, and happen to be a college senior majoring in computer science who is interested in doing an English-language masters at one of the top universities in Europe (in beautiful and exciting Amsterdam), then click here.

Exit Polls Reveal a Deeply Divided Nation

The exit polls show that the electorate is very deeply divided in many ways. Men preferred Donald Trump by 12 points while women preferred Hillary Clinton by the same amount. Whites went overwhelmingly (21 points) for Trump, while blacks, Latinos, and Asian Americans were more than two to one for Clinton. Young voters 18-29 supported Clinton by 19 points, while voters 45 and older had a preference for Trump 8-9 points.

Voters with a high school education supported Trump by 6 points but those with some postgraduate study went for Clinton by 21 points. People earning less than $50,000 went for Clinton, but people making more were Trump voters. Clinton won the cities by a huge margin (24 points) but Trump carried small towns and rural areas by 28 points. Protestants and Catholics voted for Trump, but Jews and others went for Clinton. Roughly summarized: Well off, young highly educated urban voters and minorities supported Clinton, and older, poorer, less-educated rural white voters supported Trump. The Republicans probably won't conduct an autopsy this time because they won, but as its base dies off, winning national elections will get more difficult. Democrats have won the popular vote in six of the past seven presidential elections and 4 years from now, the demographics will be even worse for the GOP.

Third Parties Had a Huge Effect on the Election

It is probably a safe bet that none of Jill Stein's voters really care much for Donald Trump. Most likely if we had an instant runoff voting so that voters can express their first choice system in which voters can mark a first, second, third, etc. choice, all of them would have put down Hillary Clinton as their second choice. Would it have mattered? Actually, it would have. If the Stein voters had all held their collective noses and voted for Clinton, she would have won Michigan by 0.8% and Wisconsin by 0.1%. That would have changed the Electoral College from Clinton 232 vs. Trump 306 to Clinton 258 vs. Trump 280. Trump would have still won, but by much less.

Polls showed that many young supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) voted for Gary Johnson, probably because they never read his platform (abolish the minimum wage law, privatize Social Security, get the government out of the healthcare business, etc.). If all the Stein voters and a quarter of Gary Johnson's supporters had voted for Clinton, she would have carried Pennsylvania, and the score would have been Clinton 278 and Trump 260, leading to President Clinton. If 27% of Johnson's supporters, rather than 25%, had voted for Clinton, that would have flipped Florida as well, leading to Clinton 307 and Trump 231. At the very least, this result shows that if we are going to have more than two parties running candidates for a single office, we should be using instant runoff voting and also their backup choice if their first choice doesn't have a majority. In the current system, by voting for their first choice, many voters ended up with their last choice. (V)

What Went Wrong?

The election results brings to mind two questions (at least):

  • Why were the polls so far off?
  • Why did the voters pick someone they themselves said was unfit to be president?

Let's first tackle the polls. We made an Excel spreadsheet with the relevant data. Here the are:


The first six columns give the state and the actual percentage votes for five candidates from Politico. The D -R vote column is the Democratic minus the Republican vote in each state. The D -R polls column is the Democratic polling number minus the Republican polling number in each state. For example, Clinton got 34.9% of the vote and Trump got 61.1% of the vote in Tennessee, so the seventh column is 34.9 - 61.1 = -26.2%. Trump crushed Clinton by 26.2% in Tennessee. But the polls said he would beat her by 9% (D -R) column. She underperformed the polls by 17.2% (last column). The table is sorted on the last column. The rows are colored by who actually won the state.

What stands out is that the top part is mostly red and the bottom part is mostly blue. In other words Clinton did much worse than predicted in the red states, but roughly as expected in the blue states.

That's the basic data. Now we have to figure out why, which is harder. Several theories come to mind:

  • In the red states, many people lied to the pollsters out of shame or whatever
  • In the red states, there were a lot of hidden Trump voters who decided to vote at the last minute
  • Millions voted between the time FBI Director James Comey announced "more emails" and the time he said "nothing here."
  • Comey gave Trump momentum and there were not enough good polls in November to measure it

Maybe there are other explanations, but it seems odd that in the 25 states at the top (Tennessee to Pennsylvania), of which 22 are red, the polls were off by 5 points or more, that is, outside the margin of error. In the bottom 26 (Vermont to Hawaii), of which 18 are blue, only three of them were polled badly, that is, off by more than 5 points. Blue staters may jump to the conclusion: "We tell the truth to the pollsters and the red staters lie," but it is impossible to tell that from the data. Still, the results are striking.

One idea that intrigues us is the lack of quality polls near the end. There were only 31 presidential polls taken entirely in November, and of these, only 12 were by experienced pollsters (defined here as pollsters who also polled in 2012). Only one state (North Carolina) was polled more than once. Thus, one explanation is that the polls were pretty good up to Oct. 28, but after Comey's announcement, Trump picked up speed and there were too few polls to detect it. The lack of polls may well have been caused by the media's assumption that Clinton was going to win and didn't want to spend any money to tell them what they already knew.

The staff at FiveThirtyEight have already talked to several dozen pollsters (who maybe should be spending their time updating their resumes). They offered several theories, some of which echo ours:

  • Some women were embarrassed to admit they were voting for Trump
  • Trump supporters are distrustful of institutions, and pollsters are an institution
  • The blue team blew it on turnout
  • The late-deciding voters, particularly those who abandoned the S.S. Johnson, broke decisively for The Donald
  • Because the media thought it was over, they did not sink money into (expensive) polls in the last two weeks
  • Pollsters pretended to be more certain than they really were, and even tweaked their numbers, so as not to be an "outlier"

In some cases, we will see if the theory stands up to more careful scrutiny. In other cases, we may never really know. (Z)

Trump's Business Conflicts Present Some Serious Issues

Donald Trump has a financial interest in more than 500 companies, as well as billions of dollars in assets. The people who built the U.S. government, from the Founding Fathers on down to the various Congresses that have passed different ethics laws, never contemplated anything like this. Consequently, we are left with a situation that raises many questions, and offers few answers.

To start, Trump will be in a position to make all manner of decisions that could benefit him financially. He could shut down a federal prison near one of his golf courses, or grant more favorable trade status to nations that are home to a Trump resort, or look the other way while Vladimir Putin seizes part of Ukraine, with the understanding that part of the new territory will become a Trump-owned golf course. Nearly all presidents have some conflicts of this sort, and they are not inherently illegal, because federal law allows the president and vice president to own and profit from their businesses even while in office. Just to be safe, most chief executives put their assets in blind trusts, or use some other mechanism (President Obama bought U.S. treasury bonds) to avoid any possibility of a conflict of interest. This won't work for Trump, however, because while stocks can easily be bought and sold (thus putting the president in the dark about what he really owns), land and real estate cannot. No matter who is running the Mar-a-Lago, Trump knows that he owns it. Congress might theoretically pass new laws putting some sort of limits on The Donald, but it is hard to imagine what those laws might look like, and it's even harder to imagine a GOP-controlled Congress doing so at the expense of a Republican president.

There is also another thorny dilemma. The Constitution prohibits the president from receiving any, "present, emolument, office or title" from a foreign country. On one hand, nearly anything that a Trump-owned business receives from a foreign government or citizen in the next four years could run afoul of this law. On the other hand, it would be the Justice Department—who will be working for Trump—that would have to prosecute such a case. It is possible that a private citizen might file suit for violation of this clause, but legal experts are unclear as to whether or not the suit would be allowed to go forward.

In short, we have a situation where the potential for corruption is rife, and there is no obvious mechanism in place to check it. It would thus be largely on Trump to be on his best behavior, and to do his very best not to profit from his office. This, of course, is a man who regularly used his campaign stops to promote his businesses, and who uses the money that other people donate to his charity to pay legal bills and to grease the skids with politicians. So, there is certainly some cause for concern. (Z)

Preliminary List of Trump Cabinet Officials Leaks

BuzzFeed has laid hands on a preliminary list of the people being considered for Cabinet positions in the Trump administration, and it's a pip. Here are the names:

Attorney General: Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Attorney General Pam Bondi (R-FL), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani

Secretary of Commerce: Christie, former Nucor CEO Dan DiMicco, businessman Lew Eisenberg, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), former Missouri senator Jim Talent

Agriculture Secretary: Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS), National Council of Farmer Cooperatives CEO Chuck Conner, former Nebraska governor Dave Heineman, Texas Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller, former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue

Secretary of Education: Dr. Ben Carson, Hoover Institution fellow William Evers

Secretary of Energy: Venture capitalist Robert Grady, businessman Harold Hamm

Secretary of Health and Human Services: Former New Jersey state senator Rich Bagger, Carson, former Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL)

Secretary of Homeland Security: Christie, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke

Secretary of the Interior: Former Arizona governor Jan Brewer, Gov. Mary Fallin (R-OK), Grady, Hamm, Oil Executive Forrest Lucas, Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), former Alaska governor Sarah Palin

Secretary of Defense: Gen. Mike Flynn (Ret.), former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Sessions, Talent

Secretary of State: Former diplomat and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), Gingrich

Treasury Secretary: Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Businessman Carl Icahn, Banker Steven Mnuchin

Chief of Staff: RNC Chair Reince Priebus

Director of Office of Management and Budget: Sessions

Secretary of Labor: EEOC Commissioner Victoria Lipnic

Veterans Affairs: Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL)

White House Counsel: Donald McGahn

It's hard to know, at this point, how serious the list is. In some ways, it almost seems designed to give Democrats heartburn. The biggest surprises are surely Sarah Palin for Interior, and Ben Carson for Education. Hard to believe they'll actually get those jobs, but who knows? In any event, the list certainly helps confirm that prominent places for Christie, Gingrich, and Giuliani are in the offing. (Z)

Maggie Hassan Defeats Kelly Ayotte

The initial count for the New Hampshire Senate seat shows that Gov. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) beat Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) by a mere 1,023 votes. There may be a recount, though Ayotte has already conceded, so maybe not, The presidential race in the Granite State was also very close, with Hillary Clinton defeating Donald Trump by 1,437 votes. A recount there is also feasible. If Hassan remains senator-elect, the Democrats will have held their one difficult race (in Nevada) and picked up seats in Illinois and New Hampshire, giving them 48 seats in the new Senate. (V)

Democrats Have No Leader and No Direction

The Democrats thought that President Hillary Clinton would be their new leader. It didn't work out. Now they have no clear leader and no clear direction. Their minority leaders, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), represent the coastal elites that the voters just rejected. Both are savvy politicians good at back-room maneuvering—precisely what Trump has sworn to end. Bernie Sanders isn't even a Democrat, and while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is popular with part of the party, not all Democrats like her. Besides, the half-dozen Democratic senators up for reelection in 2018 are not going to be enthusiastic about lurching to the left at a time when the country seems to be lurching to the right.

In the absence of any clear leadership to tell them to shut up, many supporters of Sanders and Warren are going to try to remake the party as a progressive party that opposes the big banks and multinational corporations, but there is going to be a lot of pushback from other Democrats. A week ago, everyone was talking about the upcoming civil war within the Republican Party. Now the civil war has remained, only the party in question has been suddenly switched. (V)

Jihadists Happy About Trump's Win

Vladimir Putin, of course, spent Wednesday morning dancing in the streets of Moscow, likely with his shirt off. And we are already learning of another foreign policy implication of Donald Trump's victory: The jihadists are delighted that he will be in the White House.

Prominent Al-Qaeda-connected cleric Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, for example, took to Twitter to celebrate the beginning of America's collapse. Jabhat Fateh al-Sham's Twitter account announced that, "Trump's victory is a powerful slap to those promoting the benefits of democratic mechanisms." Trump's win also jibes with these groups' strategic vision, since they promote themselves as defenders of Sunni Islam, and Trump appears to be planning to embrace Syria's Bashar al-Assad, a Shia Alawite. ISIS is happy for a similar reason; reduced to tatters by allied offensives and poor recruiting numbers, Trump's anti-Muslim statements play into their argument that the world is divided into only two types of people: Muslims, and those who hate Muslims. They expect their numbers to swell, and hope that The Donald will radicalize lone-wolf terrorists in Europe and the United States. We can only hope that they are wrong. (Z)

U.S. Elects LGBT Governor for the First Time

State-level results were largely forgotten on Tuesday night, as there were some pretty significant developments at the federal level. You may have heard about them. Among the stories lost in the shuffle was this: Democrat Kate Brown took the governor's mansion in Oregon, making her the first openly LGBT person in U.S. history to win a gubernatorial election.

The significance of this event was muted a bit by the fact that Brown was already serving as governor, having assumed the office in 2012 after her predecessor John Kitzhaber was forced to resign in disgrace. Still, she views her victory—quite rightly—as a message to LGBT youth, declaring: "If I can be a role model for one young person that decides that his or her life is worth living because there's someone like them in the world, it's worth it." Brown's success is also another reminder of the stark cultural divisions within the country: While much of the red Midwest states were striking back at the recent gains made by blacks, women, and other groups, Oregonians were giving their votes to a bisexual. (Z)

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov09 Possible Electoral Vote: Trump 310, Clinton 228
Nov09 Popular Vote Is Very Close
Nov09 What Happens Next?
Nov09 How Did This Happen?
Nov09 How Does This Result Affect 2018?
Nov09 Election Postmortem, Take One
Nov08 Live Blogging Will Begin this Evening around 6:30 PM EST
Nov08 Our Prediction: Clinton Will Win
Nov08 Clinton Leads in Eight of Nine New National Polls
Nov08 Latino Vote Is Surging
Nov08 Justice Department to Monitor Polls in 28 States
Nov08 Candidates' Final Day Is Hectic
Nov08 Democrats Vote Early
Nov08 Americans Don't Think the Election Is Rigged
Nov08 Supreme Court Declines to Overturn Appeals Court on Voter Intimidation Order in Ohio
Nov08 Obama Campaigns in Michigan for Clinton
Nov08 Stock Market Zooms Up
Nov08 Clinton Draws First Blood
Nov08 Final Senate Update
Nov08 Will Republicans Really Obstruct SCOTUS Nominee?
Nov08 Will Trump's Movement Outlast Him?
Nov07 Comey: After Reviewing New Emails, Clinton Will Not Be Charged
Nov07 Clinton Continues to Lead in the Electoral College
Nov07 National Polls Give Clinton a Small Lead
Nov07 Prediction Models Agree that Clinton Will Beat Trump
Nov07 Betting Markets Say Clinton Will Win
Nov07 Trump's Aides Block His Twitter Access
Nov07 Reid's Machine Could Be the Deciding Factor in the Election
Nov07 Is Michigan in Play?
Nov07 Libertarian Veep Candidate Weld Kinda, Sorta Endorses Clinton
Nov07 Pope Francis Kinda Endorses Clinton, Too
Nov07 Judge Says that RNC Is Not Working with Trump
Nov07 The Nine Races that Will Determine Control of the Senate
Nov07 Today in Donald Trump Takedowns
Nov07 Wikileaks Makes Another Dump
Nov06 Charlie Cook Says Trump Could Possibly Win
Nov06 ABC News/WaPo Tracking Poll Growing Bullish on Hillary Again
Nov06 Early Voting Continues to Presage Trouble for Trump
Nov06 Clinton's Free Music Concerts Aren't About Music at All
Nov06 Supreme Court Bans People from Collecting and Submitting Absentee Ballots
Nov06 Strange Incident at Trump Rally in Nevada
Nov06 Trump's Final Ad Is Rather Antisemitic
Nov06 Maybe There Is A Good Reason Giuliani Is Supporting Trump
Nov05 Clinton Indictment Story Falls Apart, Sends Everyone Scrambling
Nov05 Melania Trump Violated Immigration Law
Nov05 Unemployment Down, Wages Up
Nov05 Clinton's Ground Game Could Sink Trump
Nov05 Latino Early Voting Is Way Up This Year
Nov05 Judge Orders Voters Restored to North Carolina Rolls
Nov05 What Will Trump Say If He Loses?