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John King, covering his eighth presidential race, is a big winner amid what Bruce Springsteen might call a pants-dropping, house-rocking, earth-quaking, booty-shaking political stunner.
A great journalist chum calls it a "dystopian nightmare." At minimum, it was precisely that for the Polling-Survey Industrial Complex whose errant ways were laid bare during King's night-long tour de force. It was a "big middle finger" to the political and media establishment, said "Morning Joe's" Willie Geist this morning. The media was in full meltdown. (Vanity Fair)
Nobody foresaw what both The Washington Post and The New York Times this morning headlined, "TRUMP TRIUMPHS," with the New York Daily News going with a landscape shot of the White House and "HOUSE OF HORRORS." The Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib's analysis: "‘Deplorables’ Rise Up to Reshape America."
By 11:37 p.m., the estimable, if recently derided (by The Huffington Post) data-cruncher Nate Silver acknowledged that Democrats' best hope if Trump won Wisconsin was a 269-269 tie. That was part and parcel of a dramatic turnaround for him, having rather steadfastly called the race pretty darn sure for Clinton.
He wasn't alone. So reserve your seats now for the many perfect-for-C-SPAN symposia on "The 2016 Election: Where did the pollsters go wrong?"
Political junkies, and maybe even the modest array of American civics teachers, should thank King. He served once again as maestro of CNN's "Magic Wall" and did so with measured, systematic and microscopic detail and analysis. There were many others, including John Dickerson of CBS News, who did fine work.
But perhaps nobody got the airtime of King as CNN smartly eschewed its army of pundit panels in lieu of real-time insights that were also virtually a county-by-county demographic and historical survey. It made CNN more focused than competitors on this particular night when the impulse for cable's pundit paradigm actually interfered with the tick-tock clinical dissection by an actual expert of what was playing out.
King knew the socio-economic make-up, it seemed, of every spot on the map. The number of absentee ballots. How Clinton fared versus Obama in 2008 and 2012. Ditto with Trump and both John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. He was a two-legged version of the Almanac of American Politics who also discerned early the many hints of dark clouds above for Clinton.
"It is stunning," he said, without any theatrics, looking at a sea of red, including throughout the Midwest, at 12:32 a.m. this morning.
It was even more so as journalist King displayed what was often in short supply during the campaign: an understated reverence for facts.
The obvious question
"How did everyone get it so wrong? Polls and predictive models failed to predict Trump’s strength." (Politico)
In the early hours, there wasn't any very understandable answer.
Karl Rove's early-morning reminder
As coverage approached 1 a.m. this morning, the topic of How Could So Many Have Been So Wrong was indeed the obvious topic.
"Donald Trump leading in Michigan, leading in Pennsylvania, leading in New Hampshire," said Bret Baier, who was not among the giddy at Fox News. He was playing it all quite straight.
Fox News Contributor Karl Rove cited the work of Daniel Boorstin, a late University of Chicago historian and former Librarian of Congress. In 1961, right after the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon presidential race, he wrote a 1961 book called "The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America."
It detailed, noted Rove, how "the changing nature of the American media, which he thought was corroding a lot of the traditional sources of authority in our society, and weakening of party structures, meant we were less likely to nominate for office people who'd demonstrated statecraft..that they've been a successful governor or mayor or senator or congressman."
"Instead," said Rove, Boorstin predicted "we would pick people who are famous simply because they were famous. And we've done that....somebody who basically used the media on his behalf to disrupt the existing political structure and existing political system."
Yes, said Rove, it took awhile for Daniel Boorstin's idea to come off. But it has come off in a splendidly amazing fashion."
Splendid? Hmmm. For sure, amazing.
"As Donald Trump continued to outperform expectations Tuesday night, his supporters on Twitter and at gatherings celebrated his success with cheers of 'Lock her up.'" (The Washington Post)
"Outside the Trump Hotel in Washington, a huge crowd of Trump supporters broke out into the chant — wildly popular at Trump rallies — after he was declared the victor in North Carolina, a key battleground state that put him on the path to the prized 270."
A pundit's admission
Steve Schmidt, an MSNBC regular all campaign, admitted he figured she'd get 320 to 340 electoral votes. "I thought it's been over for weeks...What you're seeing here is such a backlash in the country against the establishment of the country...It's the collapse of trust in institutions that fueled the Brexit vote and fueled this vote."
Bloomberg's customers clearly nervous
"Global markets were thrown into disarray as results from the U.S. election indicated that Donald Trump may prevail over Hillary Clinton in the race for the presidency, shocking traders who had focused on polls in recent days showing the opposite." (Bloomberg)
"Panicked investors rushed to unwind bets they’d piled on amid predictions Clinton would sweep to victory, fueling demand for haven assets. Futures on the S&P 500 Index plunged by a 5 percent limit that triggers trading curbs and Asian shares sank by the most since the aftermath of Britain’s shock vote to leave the European Union. Mexico’s peso had its steepest plunge since 2008 on concern a Trump win would lead to more protectionist U.S. trade policies. Gold jumped by the most since 2009, surging with the yen and U.S. Treasuries."
Travail in the Dakotas
One, two, three, four, five, six, count 'em, seven. That's the number of journalists "charged with crimes while covering Dakota Access Pipeline protests in North Dakota, prompting some out-of-state and independent journalists to say law enforcement is targeting them." (Bismarck Tribune)
"We overlooked reporting paths," concedes Rolling Stone after losing a defamation case brought by a former University of Virginia assistant dean. (Rolling Stone)
Editor: "Warren, we're getting sued for libel as a result of that damn story of yours."
Jim: "Bob, listen, I overlooked some reporting paths. I'm so very sorry."
Another Gannett-Tronc deal?
Both sides looked bad when banks backed out of financing an unrealistically rich Gannett offer for Tronc, formerly Tribune Publishing. Tronc boss Michael Ferro, whose stock has headed south since both his spurning initial Gannett offers and the Gannett pullout, says there could be a "different type of deal." (Yahoo) And it would surely be less than what he's previous rebuffed.
Chip Reidd's change in plans
Early this morning Chip Reid's, a fine and longtime CBS News correspondent, reported from Janesville, Wisconsin, the home of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who won his own-reelection.
"By the way," he told Scott Pelley back in New York City, "when we first came out here a few days to cover this, we didn't even come here to cover it as a battleground state. We came to cover the battle between Trump and Ryan. It only became a battleground state. So people really missed what was going on."
The morning babble
"DONALD TRUMP ELECTED PRESIDENT" was the "Fox & Friends" banner. "It was an historic wave unlike anything we've seen since Ronald Reagan's revolution in 1980...and it's just as shocking to the elites and the political classes in 2016 as it was when Reagan was swept into office 36 years ago," read Joe Scarborough" from his teleprompter. On CNN’s “New Day,” there was the transition reality: “Trump to meet with President Obama this week.”
CNN's Jeff Zeleny, who's had the Clinton beat this year, put it succinctly: "This is a repudiation of her and her biggest partner on the campaign trail, President Obama." Scarborough called it "a complete earthquake," noting the head-turning Pennsylvania and Wisconsin wins in particular, and one of peril to the GOP establishment, as well.
Bloomberg's John Heilemann, who was just in Las Vegas for Showtime's "The Circus," recounted on "Morning Joe" his talking to the four smartest political operatives he knew last week. Two Democrats, two Republicans and none foresaw this. His biggest surprise: her "vastly shrunken" support from white college-educated voters. She won the women by six points but lost the men, a group she'd been leading for months by fat margins. Did some just lie to pollsters?
Vice, Slate voters projections
A footnote to the disastrous outing of polling organizations: "'Inaccurate, yet addictive': Early opinions are mixed about Slate and Vice’s real-time election projections."(Nieman Lab)
Well, Slate and Vice, even if guilty, ain't alone this morning.
Mike Murphy's take
In an age in which data is an increasingly revered commodity in journalism and elsewhere, here was Mike Murphy, a brainy GOP consultant and writer, shortly before 2 a.m. on MSNBC to Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow:
"My crystal ball's been shattered into atoms here, since I predicted the exact opposite. I'm a typical campaign consultant type. We've been living and dying by data for a long time. Tonight data kind of died. The exit polls were originally off, the most credible polling was off."