Who foresaw the dominance of Trump?
February 24, 2016 12:56 PM   Subscribe

In the last nine months I read lots of pieces written by smart and knowledgeable people explaining why Trump was never going to be the Republican nominee, and wasn't going to come close. Though it's far from a done deal, it's clear that he's at least close. Did any analysts out there foresee a scenario like what we have today, with Trump winning three of the first four nominating contests? I would be interested in reading more of their analysis, to mix in with my regular batch of writers who were wrong on this.
posted by Kattullus to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
How long ago do they need to have made the predictions?

If you're OK with people calling it a few weeks ago, the results of the primaries and caucuses so far have perfectly matched the collective predictions of the (mostly Europe-based) betting markets. None of those predictions changed significantly in the few weeks leading up to each primary.

If a few weeks ago isn't sufficient, Samuel Francis predicted this in 1996.
posted by caek at 1:07 PM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

I think most of the pundits were making a seat of the pants call on the basis that outsiders never win, perhaps reinforced by finding idea repellent.
posted by SemiSalt at 1:09 PM on February 24, 2016

Response by poster: caek: How long ago do they need to have made the predictions?

I guess I'm looking for someone who guessed correctly a few months before Iowa, but not last century. But to make things simple, let's say they wrote the analysis in the 2015 calendar year. And I'm looking for someone whose reasoning for their prediction broadly lines up with reality, not someone who said: "Trump will win New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada because lizard people."
posted by Kattullus at 1:13 PM on February 24, 2016

MetaFilter's own Scott Adams, believe it or not
posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics at 1:16 PM on February 24, 2016 [22 favorites]

Yeah, frickin Scott Adams has been way out in front of everybody on this.
posted by notyou at 1:30 PM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think most of the pundits were making a seat of the pants call on the basis that outsiders never win, perhaps reinforced by finding idea repellent.

I don't think any of the pundits forsaw how incompetent the other GOP candidates would be in fending off Trump.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:31 PM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Even the great wizards of 538 failed us on this one:
For this reason alone, Trump has a better chance of cameoing in another “Home Alone” movie with Macaulay Culkin — or playing in the NBA Finals — than winning the Republican nomination.
posted by octothorpe at 1:36 PM on February 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: If you're interested in what non-USians think, people who lived through Rob Ford's highly unlikely mayoralty have been saying "don't be so sure this Trump fella can't pull it off," and they draw parallels between Rob Ford's election and the likelihood of a Trump victory.

Marcus Gee in The Globe and Mail using Rob Ford as a cautionary tale:

Permit your cousins to the north to offer some friendly advice. You may be tempted to dismiss Donald Trump as a flash in the pan, an obnoxious crank who has no chance of being elected and who appeals only to a small fringe. Don’t be too sure.

John Filion (a Toronto city councillor and former journalist), in this excerpt on Slate:

Now, Rob Ford’s American counterpart, Donald Trump, is mounting a populist surge. Ford and Trump have obvious similarities: Although enabled by family wealth, each appealed to the common folk; both instinctively understood how to extend a welcoming hand toward the dark side of human nature; both treat facts as secondary to opinion, their thoughts crystalized as truth the moment they exit their mouths.


The people at Trump rallies look and sound very similar to the ones I’ve met at Ford political gatherings.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:36 PM on February 24, 2016 [11 favorites]

Best answer: Here's an Oct 27, 2015 article from Bloomberg written by Sahil Kapur and heavily quoting Republican strategist Steve Schmidt.

"Anybody who thinks Donald Trump cannot be the Republican nominee is smoking something."

This actually suggests a second answer of who was predicting this: Republican Party insiders.

There were a whole bunch of articles late last year (like this one) detailing how, even while pundits on both sides were predicting the imminent implosion of Trump's candidacy, the Republican establishment was panicking over the very real possibility that he win a couple of early states and then build up too much momentum to stop.

It looks like they weren't chicken littling after all.
posted by 256 at 1:38 PM on February 24, 2016 [5 favorites]

Oh, and also to be fair to a lot of the pundits, Trump isn't the nominee yet. Everyone was predicting his downfall, either by him torpedoing his own campaign in some way, or by the bulk of Trump-hating Republicans rallying behind a single other candidate.

It's not too late for either of those things to happen. It's just that the vast majority of the pundits were predicting the downward turn to be well underway by this point.
posted by 256 at 1:41 PM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Folks, let's stick to answering the question asked and save the more general chatter for the various politicking threads over on the blue.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:41 PM on February 24, 2016

I don't know whether you saw this article from the New Yorker asking the same question.
posted by janey47 at 3:00 PM on February 24, 2016

Best answer: The best and most prescient piece on this was from Norm Ornstein, who wrote in the Atlantic last August:
Almost all the commentary from the political-pundit class has insisted that history will repeat itself. That the Trump phenomenon is just like the Herman Cain phenomenon four years ago, or many others before it; that early enthusiasm for a candidate, like the early surge of support for Rudy Giuliani in 2008, is no predictor of long-term success; and that the usual winnowing-out process for candidates will be repeated this time, if on a slightly different timetable, given 17 GOP candidates.

Of course, they may be entirely right. Or not entirely; after all, the stories and commentaries over the past two months saying Trump has peaked, Trumpmania is over, this horrific comment or that is the death knell for Trump, have been embarrassingly wrong. But Trump’s staying power notwithstanding, there are strong reasons to respect history and resist the urge to believe that everything is different now.

Still, I am more skeptical of the usual historical skepticism than I have been in a long time.
Later he said, "So is anything really different this time? I think so." He then went on to give six reasons for why he thought as he did, and all of them have turned out to be right.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 4:05 PM on February 24, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Jeet Heer has been better than most on trump.

Don't listen to the media. The GOP's greatest troll has a real chance - August 2015
posted by mikek at 6:41 PM on February 24, 2016

Best answer: Google " matt breunig " and the "matt breunig election team"
posted by ennui.bz at 7:42 PM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Metafilter, in 2011?
posted by namewithoutwords at 7:48 PM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

"As you know, we’ve inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump..."

-- S11E17 "Bart to the Future" (March 19, 2000)
posted by Rhaomi at 1:22 AM on February 25, 2016 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks! Those made for very interesting reading. One takeaway from reading these is that Trump isn't sui generis, but compares rather neatly to Rob Ford and Silvio Berlusconi. Which isn't terribly heartening, but at least I have a category now to put him in.
posted by Kattullus at 1:58 PM on February 25, 2016

Just want to throw in Nate Silver's article from last August on the possible path and hurdles Trump has to face to get the nomination. He updated the article at the end of December, saying that the most difficult hurdles are yet to come. He remains a Trump skeptic.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:21 PM on February 26, 2016

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