In the next few posts I’ll be sharing many thoughts about this election. I’ll begin with the question that is foremost in everyone’s mind. What the hell happened? How could every single poll have been so wrong? All predicted a virtual Clinton landslide.
But there was some tightening of the polls in the final two weeks. Almost everyone seems to believe that the announcement by the FBI of the discovery of new E-mails on a computer used by Clinton’s top aide swung the election, regardless of whether the FBI announced a week later that it had found nothing new. That seems to be the conventional wisdom. But it’s wrong.
Psychologists will tell you that it takes a significant event to change people’s attitudes. In the run-up to World War II, most Americans wanted to stay out of the mess in Europe. Then came Pearl Harbor and, overnight, Americans lined up to join in the fight. They were angry as hell.
Were the E-mails discovered on Abedin’s computer such an event? Hardly. It shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise, and there was a lot of skepticism (ultimately proven to be justified) that there was really nothing of much significance there. But there were three events that took place in the immediate wake of the FBI’s announcement that angered Americans in a big, big way – much more than the media realized:
- The government announced that social security checks would rise by only 0.3% next year, after no rise at all in 2016, citing a lack of inflation in the cost of living. Everyone 62 years and older was absolutely outraged. How in the world the Obama administration was dumb enough to let this happen only days before the election is mystifying.
- Immediately on the heels of that came an announcement that those who were buying health insurance through Obamacare would face enormous premium increases. Bam! Another few million Americans were seething. Hey, they assured the rest of us, if you’re not on Obamacare, don’t worry. You’re not affected.
- Oh, yeah? Then, only one week ahead of the election, open enrollment in company-sponsored benefit plans began, and the rest of us discovered that the folks on Obamacare may have been the lucky ones compared to what we were now facing. To cite my own case as an example, since I retired in 2004, the cost of my wife’s health insurance has risen at an annual rate of 43% but I just learned before the election that it would jump by 123% next year! Every American was seeing the same thing. So now every American, just one week before the election, was pissed off in a way that, if they didn’t already believe that America was on the wrong track, they sure believed it now. And it was enough to make a lot of them change their minds and cast a protest vote.
As these events unfolded, I told my wife that Trump didn’t need to say anything. He barely needed to continue campaigning. All he had to do was let the daily news cycle play itself out. The daily drumbeat of bad news about the prospects for our future was just piling on proof that a change was needed in a big way.
More analysis will follow.