Wednesday, November 09, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Another win for Trump

Donald Trump ran an unorthodox campaign since he announced his candidacy 18 months ago and beat 17 other Republicans for the party’s nomination.

But if late results hold up into Wednesday morning, the New York billionaire will be the next president of the United States with the overwhelming help of white working-class voters without college degrees who were mostly overlooked by pollsters.

Abandoned by prominent Republicans, Trump ran his campaign almost single-handedly with a woefully underfunded war chest and a small staff, holding rallies and going on TV every day. He bought few TV ads.

A Trump victory will mean another realignment on the Supreme Court and the end of Obamacare and the so-called private option in in our state, possibly ending health coverage for 300,000 Arkansans. A Trump victory will almost certainly mean closer ties with Russia, which dramatically hacked into the Democrats’ emails and derailed Clinton’s path to the White House. It remains to be seen if Trump will build a wall to keep Mexicans out of the U.S.  

The New York Times called the election for Donald Trump around 9 p.m. Tuesday, well ahead of the television networks. Although the newspaper predicted almost certain victory for Hillary Clinton for months, the Times used a powerful tracking tool last night that quickly detected a surge for Trump, perhaps the most unlikely presidential candidate in history.

Just a few hours after the polls closed, the Times predicted a 290 electoral victory for Trump (20 over the minimum needed) and a small popular win for Clinton, although numbers could change as we go to press. As in 2000, one candidate can lose the popular vote but carry the electoral college.

That was one possible outcome numbers cruncher Nate Silver predicted before the election. Silver warned overconfident Democrats that an electoral landslide for Clinton that many were predicting was by no means assured. He correctly predicted the previous two elections, and he thought right up to the end that Trump could win and paint the country red.

The final results weren’t in late Tuesday, but the polls erred by about 5 percent — the worst  call in almost 70 years — although the much maligned Los Angeles Times poll did predict a Trump win, as did some more obscure polls.

Trump pulled off the biggest upset since Harry Truman beat Thomas Dewey in 1948. After easily winning the Republican primaries in the spring, Trump surprised the experts once again and turned a close contest against Clinton into a  stunning electoral win.

Clinton’s email scandal and FBI investigation depressed turnout among black voters. Even with a surge among Latino voters, her path to victory narrowed, especially in Florida, a crucial state essential to victory.

Yet almost everyone expected a Clinton victory until the votes were counted. Many Trump supporters expected him to lose and said so. As the polls opened Tuesday, Roger Stone, one of Trump’s top aides, said, “Frankly, Trump has run one of the worst campaigns in modern history.”

Although Trump turned off many traditional Republicans, especially women, he picked up enough support from whites who never went to college and who responded to his isolationist message, depressing financial markets around the world. Not much surprise there.

Clinton was leading in the polls at least since June except for a short bump for Trump after the Republican convention. The cable news networks made a horse race out of it until the end, but the best polls showed her ahead right up to Election Day. Most of them were wrong.

Trump promised to self-fund his campaign but poured only about $60 million of his own money, mostly in the primaries. Ross Perot spent $63 million of his own money in 1992, which is worth $108 million today.

Short of funds, Trump still widened his base, while Hillary’s shrunk. Just as Republicans rejected another Bush in the primaries, voters turned against putting another Clinton in the White House.

Our nation will remain divided for the foreseeable future. For the healing to begin, the new president must work toward economic fairness for all Americans, not just our privileged citizens.

As the shouting subsides, the president and Congress must reach out and work toward prosperity and opportunities for all. This isn’t just a slogan but the essence of the American idea that we are all fortunate to live in a democracy and must overcome our differences. We cannot let this great Republic fall short as a beacon of hope and an economic engine like no other in the world.

A new political realignment in the near future is almost certain. First, let the healing begin.