What Went Wrong In The 2016 Election? A Lot Of Things

I think we are finally far enough out from Election Day the professionals are getting a handle on what went wrong. Of course there is a list, a long one, and I am sure a case could be made for any number of reasons. However, I trust a few experts for their consistency and knowledge, and Greg Sargent and Nate Silver agreed this weekend on two major factors.

Let me preface this: I voted for Clinton in the primaries and the general election. I would have voted Sanders in the General had he been the candidate, but he was not my personal first choice. It should not matter to this discussion, but full disclosure.

Both can absolutely exist. Every human makes mistakes, and the Clinton team has admitted as much. Over reliance on her data and analytics was one of the major factors. Others include which Trump failings to highlight, which messages to hammer home to certain groups, and how to frame those, and time spent on the campaign trail.



In anything we do in life, we will err. Outside forces will also exist, some to our benefit and others to out detriment. The case, then, of the FBI’s role should be examined much more closely.

This was not a natural disaster or bad luck. Once the external force is identified, it should be analyzed.

When FBI Director James Comey told Congress on Oct. 28 that he was reviewing additional emails pertinent to the case of Hillary Clinton’s email server, Clinton had an 81 percent chance of winning the election according to our polls-only forecast. Today, her chances are 65 percent according to the same forecast. The change corresponds with Clinton’s drop in the national popular-vote lead: from a 5.7-percentage-point lead in our estimate on Oct. 28 to a 2.9-point lead now — so a swing of about 3 points against her. (538)

At the time, it was difficult to say how much of that swing was directly attributable to Comey. But now, Silver is pretty confident.

It’s also worth noting again that 538 gave Clinton a lower chance of winning than most other polls, and they took a lot of heat for that. But since the election, there has been a great deal of anger they didn’t “more accurately predict” the results. While we bang our heads against our walls, let us remember that statistics are a probability game, and even a small polling error could change the chances by a significant margin.

See: Trump is Just a Normal Polling Error Behind Clinton 

Putting the Polling Miss of the 2016 Election into Perspective 

The biggest complaint I see right now, and what I think is most important to correct, is the idea that as long as a person’s odds are over 50%, they should win. I will admit stats was my only C in college, but I managed to get enough out of it to understand that is not the case.

If it is really confusing, I suggest thinking about the weather. If there is a 30% chance of rain, will you take an umbrella? Are you wearing a hoodie and sweats or a business suit for an interview? Your preparation depends on the seriousness of each outcome, but you acknowledge both. It does not make the forecast any less accurate.

Now let’s quit blaming all the other voters and the forecasters and be mad at James Comey. It looks like he is the biggest problem, and I think we can unite around a call for him to be held to account.

Onward. We have midterms to organize!

Written By
More from Renee Webb

Out Of The Loop? Here Is Your Tuesday Trump Update

Multiple Trump stories dropped Monday, and it can quickly get overwhelming trying...
Read More

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.