Hоw Did The Media — Hоw Did We — Get This Wrоng?

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Damon Winter/Newspaper Post

It’s 3:30 a.m. in the newsroom, and we’re in a state of shock. Donald J. Trump, against what we thought were all odds, collected swing state after swing state after swing state. Hillary Clinton has conceded the race. Mr. Trump has won.

How did he pull off such a stunning victory? How did almost no one — not the pundits, not the pollsters, not us in the media — see it coming?

To try to make sense of what we saw on election night, I’m joined on today’s Run-Up by three of my exhausted, generous colleagues: Nicholas Confessore, Maggie Haberman and Jim Rutenberg.

So, what just happened? “We don’t know what happened, because the tools that we would normally use to help us assess what happened failed,” Ms. Haberman says. “The polling on both sides was wrong.”

Mr. Rutenberg had just finished writing about how the media had missed Mr. Trump’s wide appeal, and what that misfire says about journalists’ flawed understanding of major swaths of our country. “What we now know is that a huge part of the country is far more upset about the ills that he was pointing to and promising to fix than any of the flaws that we were pointing out about him as a candidate,” Mr. Rutenberg says on the show.

“I would say this is a failure of expertise on the order of the fall of the Soviet Union or the Vietnam War,” Mr. Confessore says. “What we are seeing is in part a revolt of the country that people had written off as the country of the past, against the country that most people thought they were living in: a country of the future, of a multicultural future, of a globalized world. This was a revolt of people who did not feel vested in that future America.”

What we are seeing is also a repudiation of Mrs. Clinton. “Fundamentally Clinton, as it turns out, was the worst candidate Democrats could have run — which is kind of ironic since the field was cleared for her back in 2013,” Ms. Haberman says. “Had almost any other major Democratic candidate been the nominee, they would have beaten Donald Trump.”

We discuss the role of polling and statistical models in elections, analyze the shifts in this year’s electoral map and ponder what a President Trump says about President Obama and his legacy.

“It’s impossible to look at Trump and not see that he captured the votes of people who thought of Obama as an alien, as ‘other,’ as something un-American,” Mr. Confessore says. “And some of those people are racist — it’s just a fact,” he added. “We could see it in social media, we could see it at rallies, we could see it from Trump himself in the way that he pursued this Birtherism lie for years on end.”

Of Mr. Trump, Ms. Haberman says, “I’ve covered this man in some form or anything for 20 years, and I’ve covered Hillary Clinton in some form or another for 20 years. That this race ended up this way in the way it did is not surprising given everything I know about Clinton and how people are really hardened against her or really hardened for her but there’s no middle ground,” she said.

“But Donald Trump did everything short of cutting off his own ear to try to hurt himself over and over again and dare voters to reject him,” she added. “And they just wouldn’t do it.”

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