Adam Smith Blog

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Donald Trump’s rise to power, seen through The Economist’s front covers

WHEN Donald Trump announced that he was running for president in June 2015, he was dismissed as a joke. By the time we first featured him on the cover of The Economist three months later, though we took a rather playful approach to the artwork, it was becoming clear Mr Trump was being taken seriously by a significant proportion of Republican voters. And as we warned our readers that “it would be a terrible thing if Mr Trump became the nominee for the party of Lincoln and Reagan”, we also recognised that his demise was by no means a certainty: “Demagogues in other countries sometimes win elections, and there is no compelling reason why America should always be immune.” (See full article.)

Even so, at that point—with Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich all still in the running—it would have taken a real stretch of the imagination to foresee Mr Trump winning the Republican Party’s nomination, let alone the presidency. Yet on November 8th, fully eight covers and 14 months hence, Mr Trump emerged the victor in a…Continue reading

How Donald Trump won the election

IT IS the biggest political upset in living memory. On the night of November 8th 2016 America decided that Donald Trump would be its 45th president. The vote stunned pollsters and pundits, who had reckoned that Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival, would breeze to victory.

The tables started to turn on Mrs Clinton’s campaign around 9pm eastern time (2am GMT) as county-level results trickled in, with Mr Trump outperforming his polls in key states like Florida, North Carolina and Virginia. Over the next few hours, as more and more counties were marked as red, news organisations frantically updated their predictions to favour Mr Trump. As Mrs Clinton’s chances to win tumbled, so too did the financial markets. The value of the Mexican peso dropped 10% against the dollar. At 10:50pm eastern time Associated Press, a newswire, declared that the Republican candidate had won the vital swing state of Florida. From there Mr Trump’s victory became ever more likely.

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On the brink of the abyss

AMERICA’s biggest political upset since at least 1948 appears to be under way, in the most consequential election of anyone’s lifetime. At 10:30pm Eastern time, Donald Trump is outperforming his polls in precisely the states he needs to win the Electoral College. He has already won Ohio, with an astonishingly large ten-point margin, enjoys a three-point lead in North Carolina with over 80%, and is nursing a slender but insurmountable advantage in Florida. Before the election, it was thought that Hillary Clinton did not need any of those states to win, thanks to a purportedly impregnable “firewall” running through Colorado, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and either New Hampshire or Nevada. But Mr Trump appears to be on the verge of crashing through it: he is up by 4.3 points in Michigan and 1.1 in Wisconsin, states where he never led a single credible poll, with 30% and 40% of the vote in. Pennsylvania too is in serious jeopardy for Mrs Clinton. It is extraordinarily unlikely that she could overcome the loss of even one of those states.

Mrs Clinton is running out of time to reverse this trend. The New York Times’s Upshot forecasting model now gives…Continue reading

Hillary Clinton has got this. Probably. Very probably

THE 2016 presidential campaign has featured the most volatile polls in recent memory. According to the averages compiled by RealClearPolitics, Hillary Clinton led Donald Trump by six percentage points in late June, trailed him by one a month later, was up by eight in mid-August, was nearly tied in late September, gained a fresh seven-point advantage in mid-October and saw it dwindle to two by last week. But at the end of this whiplash-inducing political roller coaster, the national polls have come into alignment—perhaps with the aid of a modest dose of herding—and settled right around their long-term averages. The most recent nonpartisan, live-interviewer surveys with strong performance records all put Mrs Clinton ahead, by margins ranging from one (Marist College) to six (Monmouth University) percentage points, with the bulk giving her a four-point lead. Plus ça change, that happens to be precisely Barack Obama’s edge over Mitt…Continue reading