Recap of Election Night: A Shock to the System


In the early hours of November 9th, the Associated Press officially declared Donald J. Trump the victor of the 2016 Presidential Election. A series of key wins in the battleground states of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Wisconsin were sufficient to carve out a victory.   Hillary Clinton picked up wins in Virginia, Colorado, and Nevada, but fell 38 votes short of the 270 electoral votes necessary to secure the presidency.

The result came as a shock, since nearly all polls leading up to Election Day projected a victory for the Democrats with only the L.A. Times predicting Trump would win. Ironically, pundits scoffed at the L.A. Times for being historically unreliable. Even at the St. Mary’s election panel a few days prior to the election, Professor Brogan, Eberly, and Fehrs predicted that Hillary Clinton would emerge the winner. These predictions were in no small part due to the enormous get-out-the-vote machine the Democratic Camp had at their disposal and the clear absence of such an apparatus in the Republican camp.

In the days after the election, it was concluded that Trump’s camp was able to overcome such a massive hurdle due to the copious amounts of airtime major news outlets gave to his increasingly outlandish rhetoric.

While few expected the Presidential Race to end in a Republican victory, the battle for control over the House of Representatives and the Senate was expected to be close. The Republican Party managed to retain control over the Senate despite predictions in the days leading up to November 8th. The Democratic Party was expected to make a final push to capture the Senate.

The GOP saw wins with Senator Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, Senator Marco Rubio in Florida, Representative Todd Young in Indiana, Senator Richard Burr in North Carolina and Senator Ron Johnson in Wisconsin. Notable victories on the part of Democratic Candidates included Catherine Cortez Masto capturing the seat in the Nevada race to succeed Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Representative Tammy Duckworth beating out incumbent Mark Kirk in Illinois. At the closing of the polls, the Republican Party would maintain a slim majority in the Senate. The fight for control of the House of Representatives followed a similar narrative as the Republican Party would emerge with a sizeable majority.

In the aftermath of election night, many pundits and political analysts had to do a bit of soul-searching. The theme of the 2016 Presidential Election appeared to be a disregard for Republican candidate Donald Trump followed by disbelief at a victory in his favor. There was doubt over Trump running an even semi-professional campaign just as there was doubt over him winning the Republican Primary. It seemed even more unlikely that Trump would win the General Election.

A professor at St. Mary’s, who elected to contribute an anonymous quotation, stated that, “the only certainty is a deep mistrust for predictions by analysts”. The 2016 campaign will no doubt catalyze a serious re-evaluation of predictions in future elections.