Journalists flatly admitted they completely failed to understand the 2016 presidential election following Republican nominee Donald Trump’s win Tuesday.
“To put it bluntly, the media missed the story,” Margaret Sullivan wrote in The Washington Post.
“We were all wrong,” Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman wrote in Politico’s Playbook newsletter. “That seems obvious, right? But we were more than wrong. We were laughably oblivious. The entire Washington political-media complex completely missed the mark. Not by inches or feet, but by miles.”
Jim Rutenberg added in The New York Times: “The news media by and large missed what was happening all around it, and it was the story of a lifetime. The numbers weren’t just a poor guide for election night — they were an off-ramp away from what was actually happening.”
“The misfire on Tuesday night was about a lot more than a failure in polling,” he added. “It was a failure to capture the boiling anger of a large portion of the American electorate that feels left behind by a selective recovery, betrayed by trade deals that they see as threats to their jobs and disrespected by establishment Washington, Wall Street and the mainstream media.”
The New York Times went into Election Day predicting a comfortable Clinton win, but Tuesday evening quickly and dramatically shifted their forecast as the results started pouring in. “Then came a profound shift, as mainstream media organizations scrambled to catch the bus that had just run them over,” Rutenberg added.
By 10:30 p.m. he noted the forecast had changed from a Clinton victory to a 93 percent chance of a Trump win.
Palmer and Sherman added: “For a year and a half, we scoffed at those who said the polls were wrong. The polling industry is broken. We had our eyes trained on prognosticators and pundits — but they were all wrong, too. There will be plenty of time to dissect it all. The joke is on us.”
Playbook characterized the final days of Trump’s campaign as a “last-ditch effort” to take on Clinton in Democratic strongholds, such as Minnesota, which Trump actually ended up winning on election day. The so-called “shy” Trump voters who some thought would turn out at the polls — and who did in fact turn out — were characterized as a “mirage” in another newsletter the week of the election. “Despite the recent tightening of the race, election night could be super boring,” they wrote in another.