Live by the poll and you will surely die by the poll.

The 2016 U.S. presidential campaign polls were wrong, and ultimately head faked the world, here is why. First, there is no way in which pollsters could have gotten the truth from voters who had difficulty facing such a truth themselves. How could voters tell pollsters that, against some core lessons of their upbringing and contrary to all they’ve been taught about decent behavior, they were going to vote for Donald J. Trump? Decent people in polite society will not admit to abetting demonstrated   gender bias, racial bias, xenophobia or being indifferent to vulgarity aimed at women or minority groups. That is not what people in polite society would ever admit to, and they certainly will not have such a confessional with a pollster. Further, polls, as the tools there are, cannot measure what is unspoken or unasked.

Secondly, pollsters are number crunchers, skilled in the science of quantitative modeling, but not divining the mysterious power of celebrity. Such is scientifically   unquantifiable and without daily examples  in the political arena, accept for our experiences with outliers like former Governor Jessie “ the body” Ventura, former Senator Fred Thompson, former congressman Sonny Bono, comedian/ writer/actor U.S. Senator Al Franken and a few others in our elective history. Mr. Trumps carefully carved brand and public persona, even led many his way by feeding  their super egos with his celebrity image…. that  as a brash rich guy. A fantasy for some. Therefore, what repels some, is the essence of cool to others. Then there was the imagery and symbolisms of power exuded by Mr. Trump and his clan. Rich cool! What most don’t get is that Mr. Trump ran George Wallace’s 1968  campaign, but he’s no Wallace when it came to wealth. We forget that like Trump, the Wallace campaign was one of  large crowds, a candidate with a propensity toward carnival barking entertainment, who  threatened to  walk away from global agreements, and payments in foreign aide.. called it “money going down a rat whole”.

But, we never saw Donald Trump in a plaid shirt seeking to connect to rural farmers, or jacket off walking around in a school. Actually, we never saw Mr. Trump when he wasn’t   wearing a suit (accept for playing golf), and without a knotted power tie. The third reason pollsters and pundits got it wrong was because no one wanted to accept that our collective dialogue has become more coarse, a coarseness that we have learned to accept as simply normal. Just flip the channels on your television, or scan the dialogue of the program your kids watch. Better yet, listen to your kids, the occasional unguarded banter between them and their friends and the music you hope they are not listening to.  Today, coarse language and indifference to decency has become a ready form of entertainment and is just run of the mill.  So, the ACCESS HOLLYWOOD tape was played to an American public that is immune to outrage when we hear coarse language, as we are far removed from our puritan beginnings. Therefore, we’ve elected a president who is demonstrably  profane, have documented history of disrespecting and belittling women… reducing them to sex objects, is in his third marriage, have various charges pending and has a limited association with the truth.

On election night pundit Mike Murphy said that “data is dead” in response to the growing realization that the outcome would not be as all the smart guys predicted with their data models, and on the Wednesday morning after the election, Rev Al Sharpton on MSNBC’s Morning Joe said that Trump is the “White Don King”.  They both nailed it, especially Rev Al Sharpton. Mr. Trump is a showman… a master promoter; and he knew what dog whistles would work on a large swath of mostly rural Americans that would energize them to vote in rates that have not been seen before. To the latter point, the forth thing the pundits got wrong was the power of newspaper endorsements. Some will argue that newspaper endorsements are obviously meaningless because most of them endorsed Hillary Clinton, but it made no difference. But this writer suggests that view is inaccurate. Newspaper endorsements does matter, depending on the newspaper. The KKK’s endorsement of Donald Trump in its national publication made a difference in the election and helped fuel the unusually high voter turnout in rural America and elsewhere. Those pollsters did not see that coming… that tsunami of Americans who withstood “change” in electing the first African American President, but more change, in electing the first female president directly after, was simply too much change for an America that feels as though there country is no longer theirs.

For instance, in Florida, by the numbers, a sampling (below) of some of Florida’s most rural counties like Dixie, Gulf, Hernando, Liberty, Wakulla, Pasco, Walton , Okaloosa and Nassau,  shows that Republican turnout soared past its performance from the 2012 election, when by any measure Democratic  numbers were significantly reduced. What we’ve witnessed is a campaign which brazenly stoked the fires of racism, misogyny and xenophobia; produce voting patterns whereby more inactive voters came out, and perhaps where some rural Democrats crossed over to vote for that candidate. As there is nothing new under the sun,  Mr Trump surely and purposefully  ran the campaign of George Wallace circa  1968, but with much more success.  Wednesday morning quarterbacking is easy, but  Hillarys’ living by the polls, believing the yes men and her own press propagated an air of delusion that could have been avoided simply by smelling what’s in the air, which was 1968 all over again, and polls be damned.

Election 2012 Rep Dem Election 2016/Rep Dem
Counties     Counties  
Dixie 5,052 1,798 5,822 1,270
Gulf 4,995 2,014 5,320 1,715
Hernando 44,938 37,830 59,029 31,818
Liberty 2,301 942 2,542 651
Wakulla 9,290 5,175 10,507 4,348
Pasco 112,427 98,263 141,943 89,998
Walton 21,490 6,671 25,695 6,861
Okaloosa 70,168 23,421 71,788 23,711
Nassau 29,929 10,251 34,221 10,849



Michael Dobson is a longtime Tallahassee-based lobbyist, columnist and Managing Member of Dobson, Craig and Associates. Can be reached at Michael@michaeldobson.com (850) 241-5896

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