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Election Pre-mortems

In the days leading up to the election, pundits of all political stripes reached a rare consensus: Donald Trump would lose. They just couldn't agree about why he would lose.

Jonathan Chait, writing for the Daily Intelligencer, found a clip of Donald Trump in 2012 recommending the Republicans get on board with immigration reform. Chait relished the irony.

And now, of course, as Latino voting is surging in reaction to his racist attacks, the analysis he endorsed in December 2012 appears to be the most accurate description of why he is likely to lose.

WIlliam Astore, retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, thought Trump would lose for a different reason.

But ultimately I believe Trump will be done in by his own vulgarity. He will lose because he couldn’t see past the limitations of his own height — his own flawed character.

Filmmaker and conspiracy theorist Michael Moore announced that Trump just didn't want to be president.

Maybe the meltdown of the past three weeks was no accident. Maybe it’s all part of his new strategy to get the hell out of a race he never intended to see through to its end anyway. Because, unless he is just "crazy," the only explanation for the unusual ramping up, day after day, of one disgustingly reckless statement after another is that he’s doing it consciously (or subconsciously) so that he’ll have to bow out or blame "others" for forcing him out.

Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent tried to assure liberals as the race tightened in the final days.

We very well could see national polls showing Trump ahead in coming days. If so, don’t overreact — remember, in a tightening race, some polls will be good for Trump. Keep focused on the polling averages, both national and in the battleground states. And watch the fundamentals outlined above by GOP strategists. Especially the early voting, which seems to be revealing a clear Clinton ground game advantage.

Damon Linker gave a pseudo-contrarian opinion in The Week in early September.

But for the most part, and especially in the month since the conclusion of the Democratic convention, the race has settled into a stable pattern, with Clinton running between 4 and 8 points ahead of Trump nationally and beating him in most, if not all, of the so-called swing states. Hence the conventional wisdom: Trump will lose.

But the conventional wisdom is wrong. Trump isn't merely going to lose. He's going to lose in the biggest popular vote landslide in modern presidential history.

GQ editor-in-chief Jim Nelson was already worried about what would happen after Trump's landslide loss.

I hate to say all of this, especially so close to Halloween, but what happens after Election Day may be more terrifying than what came before it. Because Donald Trump will go. But he will not go easy.

Peter Augustine Lawler, writing back in May for the National Review, gave nine reasons Trump would lose, including "the electoral college, which is a formidable obstacle for any Republican."

In the end, none of these analyses can explain why Trump lost, because the event which was certain to happen…didn't happen. The proclivity of political pundits to make poor predictions, a phenomenon Philip Tetlock first observed thirty years ago, remains alive and well.

Will they ever learn? One of them, at least, was wise enough to hedge his bets. Michael Moore, the guy who claimed to know for a fact that Trump never wanted the job, also confidently predicted he would win the election.

Donald J. Trump is going to win in November. This wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full time sociopath is going to be our next president…I can see what you’re doing right now. You’re shaking your head wildly – "No, Mike, this won’t happen!" Unfortunately, you are living in a bubble that comes with an adjoining echo chamber where you and your friends are convinced the American people are not going to elect an idiot for president. You alternate between being appalled at him and laughing at him because of his latest crazy comment or his embarrassingly narcissistic stance on everything because everything is about him…

You need to exit that bubble right now. You need to stop living in denial and face the truth which you know deep down is very, very real.

It's disingenuous, to be certain, but it's not bad advice.

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