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Virginia Business: The pundits got it wrong. The press got it wrong. Most of the polls got it wrong. The campaigns even got it wrong. Why was everyone so wrong?


Saxman: I think one of the problems that we saw in the polling this year was relative to how you model this kind of an election. This is a very different modeling than the ’08 and ’12 cycles were. I think that it was very difficult for pollsters to get a handle on what was really going on out there. What I try to tell audiences and students is: Don’t follow the ball in politics, and polling is following the ball. It doesn’t really tell you what’s actually going on in the game. At the end of the election, when you saw Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on stage in Philadelphia to close out the campaign, that’s a sign that there’s a prob- lem. Their turnout in Philadelphia was so depressed that they had to have Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi have a concert to bring people out in Philadelphia. That means Pennsylvania’s in play.


Clement: I remember when Donald Trump started talking about these bad trade deals and [and the effect they have had on blue-collar workers. After seeing what had happened in Southern Virginia], I said to a lot of my friends here in Richmond, “don’t kid yourself about that trade issue.” In the southeast- ern United States, NAFTA has been bad. People lost their jobs, and they’ve grown too old to adapt


to new skills. It’s been horrible for those families, and I think these Rust Belt states in the Midwest had similar effects … I think that was a strong undercurrent that never went away. [On top of that was the announcement of ] the increase in the pre- miums of the Affordable Care Act during the last 10 days of the campaign. My gosh, what better issue do you need to seal the deal for Donald Trump? In hindsight, I think, those were big factors.


Dendy: I would just say, on the trade issue, I think it certainly was a vote getter in the Rust Belt and areas like that, but it is really going to be interesting to see if any of those jobs come back. More than because of the trade agreement, those jobs have been lost because of technology. In fact, I was reading some articles saying that, as jobs are created in Mexico, in many cases they’re creating higher-level, technol- ogy jobs back in the United States. The reality of the situation is that those jobs probably are not going to come back, and unfortunately, some of the same may be true for the coal industry in Virginia, but it will be interesting to see over the next four years if there’s any change in that.


Schapiro: I’ve always been bewildered by the inability of Hillary Clinton to get any real mileage out of the historic char- acter of her candidacy. To hear younger women, particularly younger professional women, sort of dismiss the efforts of women of Hillary Clinton’s generation, that was something that clearly indicated that was not a vote on which Mrs. Clinton could count. It was clearly a vote that a lot of the prognosticators believed would be decisive to her candidacy … Also, the great gift of [FBI Director] Jim Comey to the Trump campaign, renewed investiga- tion of the Clinton emails, made it much easier for the most partisan voters, if you will, the voters [most hostile to Clinton], to turn out in significant numbers in early balloting states.


Farnsworth: We do an annual poll at Mary Washington, and we found a three- point gap favoring Clinton over Trump in Virginia, and we got some ribbing from some of the other pollsters because we showed the race to be a lot closer tha n a lot of other polls did. The nature of poll- ing does, I think, lend itself to approxima- tions at best. The mechanics of polling are really changing rapidly. I just want to say two things about


that as part of the reasons why pollsters were so surprised. The first is the ques- tion: Who is a likely voter? We have a series of questions that we ask, and we all ask more or less the same questions. How much attention are you paying [to the election]? Did you vote in the last elec- tion? Do you know where you would vote


www.VirginiaBusiness.com


this time? Those sorts of things give us a sense of how likely one is to participate, and I think that Trump kind of breaks the likely voter model that we saw in 2012 because a lot of the Trump supporters are not so much Republicans, not so much disaf- fected Democrats, as they are disaf- fected, period. That may be the reason why some of those likely


voter models that we use are not bringing into the conversation the people who were likely voters this year but wouldn’t have been likely voters if Trump weren’t on the ballot. I think that’s part of the explanation. The other thing is the challenge that


pollsters have facing modern technol- ogy. People are used to picking up their landlines, but if you see an unknown number on your cellphone, you’re not likely to take that call. So, for us to get representative samples, we really struggle. It is a real challenge to find people willing to talk to us. To do this right, we figure we need 60 percent [cell phone respon- dents], 40 percent landline in terms of our calls. So few people will pick up, we have to keep at it. That’s one of the reasons why I think we are in a kind of transitional period in terms of what we’re doing with polling and what’s working and what’s not.


VB: Can you tell us what you think this win says about the mood of the Ameri- can electorate? What message does it send?


Saxman: [Except for George H.W. Bush] America has been picking outsiders [for president] since Watergate, and no one picks up on that theme. We want something new. That’s part of our demand in politics. We want change. We’re not satisfied with what we have … There’s also a lot of anger out there. A lot of people have been left behind in this economy, and they’re upset. A lot of people think the deck is stacked against them, and they’re right.


VIRGINIA BUSINESS 31


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