You’ve likely seen one of the video compilations of media pundits predicting a certain loss for Donald Trump.
YouTube and social media are full of members of the mainstream press issuing certain forecasts of doom for Trump dating back past the summer of 2015.
“We find that Hillary Clinton is unpopular across [Michigan] and that Trump does very well in our competitive [state legislative] districts.”
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Forget about the White House — many pundits (especially MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell) predicted Trump wouldn’t run. Then they predicted he would flame out before the GOP primaries.
And, of course, the mainstream media predicted Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton would win in a major or modest landslide on Nov. 8.
So what happened? Mainstream journalists are supposed to report first, and then you tell you what it means. Many U.S. media outlets, especially MSNBC, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, reported mainly on what they thought or even hoped would happen. Sadly for them, it’s easy to judge their reporting post-election.
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It’s no wonder most Americans believe that the entire U.S. media missed the Trump phenomenon. But if you read LifeZette, you know that’s not true — that at least one outlet saw and explained what was happening through the election.
So let’s look back on the top eight times LifeZette called the trends, realities, and likely outcomes of 2016 well before the mainstream media even knew what had hit them:
The Dog Days of 2015
Back in August 2015, it looked tough for Trump. He had made a few flubs on the campaign trail and the media was ready to write him off.
It wasn’t a terrible premise. A lot of 2012 Republicans shot to the top of the polls and then plummeted. Remember Herman Cain? But the media wanted Trump gone because they were biased against him.
“The beginning of the end,” some pundits proclaimed that summer.
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Not LifeZette senior political reporter Brendan Kirby, who wrote “How Trump Could Triumph” on Aug. 21, 2015.
“Trump is showing signs of having a more durable and solid lead than previous shooting stars who had their 15 minutes of celebrity and then fell back to insignificance,” LifeZette wrote.
No Down-Ballot Disaster
Many media stories clung to the narrative that if Trump did prevail in the Republican primaries, his candidacy would devastate the Republican ticket, from top to bottom, on Nov. 8.
But they weren’t really offering detailed stories from the grassroots or the states.
LifeZette called Republican leaders in Michigan and Ohio, and documented their optimism in “Rising Trump Boosts GOP In Legislative Contests” on Sept. 9, 2016.
“We find that Hillary Clinton is unpopular across the state and that Trump does very well in our competitive [state legislative] districts,” said Ronna Romney McDaniel, Michigan’s Republican state chairwoman, a person likely to be the next Republican national chair.
Trump won Michigan and Ohio.
Trafalgar Group Polling
As 2016 progressed, LifeZette discovered the Republican polling firm of Robert Cahaly and the Trafalgar Group.
Cahaly believed in the theory of the shy Republican voter — aka the “shy Tory” — and had for years pried them out of their hiding places. In 2016, Cahaly asked, state by state, who respondents’ neighbors would be voting for. Cahaly then made predictions about how that state would vote.
LifeZette wrote about him on Nov. 2 in “Polls Show Your Neighbor Is Voting for Trump.”
Over time, Cahaly became the rare pollster who predicted the week before the election that Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio would all go for Trump — and that’s how it rolled.
Eddie Zipperer, a LifeZette op-ed contributor and assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College, often told LifeZette readers how Trump would prevail.
When LifeZette asked people why Trump would win (or lose) the day before the election, Zipperer was clear as gin.
“I think people who want change will get out to vote in much bigger numbers than people who want the status quo, and the turnout will carry Trump to a narrow victory,” said Zipperer.
LifeZette reported often on Trump making a play for Pennsylvania, which had not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988.
His work in the Keystone State was viewed with skepticism by the media at large.
But on Sept. 26, LifeZette noted Trump was doing well in two key states, in “Colorado and Pennsylvania Within Trump’s Grasp.”
“If Trump can take the lead in either Colorado or Pennsylvania … he would likely defeat Clinton with either 275 or 286 electoral votes,” Kathryn Blackhurst wrote.
LifeZette even spoke to Trump skeptics within the GOP who said Pennsylvania was key, while Colorado and Virginia were not winnable for Trump.
In “The New States that Trump Could Flip,” Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak told LifeZette on Sept. 12 that Colorado and Virginia were likely going to the Democrats, but Trump could win Pennsylvania.
“It’s going to come down to the Pennsylvania suburbs,” said Mackowiak. “It’s going to come down to white women [in Pennsylvania suburbs]. He’s got to find a way to start appealing to white women.”
It turns out that Trump targeted suburban voters from Philadelphia through Detroit over to Milwaukee. And it worked.
The mainstream media was fascinated with all the demographic groups who would not vote for Trump. They often forgot or deliberately overlooked the people who would vote for Trump.
As the election approached, The Washington Post declared on Nov. 3 that Trump was in big trouble because he was behind with white, college-educated women. The headline for James Hohmann’s story read: “College-educated white women are Hillary Clinton’s firewall.”
Yet LifeZette, in “Washington Post Thinks Anti-Trump Women Count More,” noted that “the Census Bureau indicates that 32.7 percent of women have a bachelor’s degree. Most women don’t — so Trump’s gains there could offset what the GOP candidate has lost with college-educated white women.”
Trump actually won white college-educated women narrowly, but his “overperformance” with white working-class voters won him Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. In fact, Trump won more than 200 U.S. counties that voted for President Obama twice.
Mad Dog Mattis
In January — Jan. 20, 2016, exactly one year from Inauguration Day — LifeZette’s staff threw together ideas for a possible Trump presidential Cabinet. It was just a breezy look ahead at possibilities, but LifeZette called the next secretary of the Department of Defense perfectly: Marine Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis.
“Known for his vocal criticisms of the Obama administration and colorful language, the general’s style is a perfect match for Trump’s,” LifeZette wrote.
Stay tuned to LifeZette for 2017.