Editor's note: This article was co-authored by Breton Peace and IVN editor Shawn Griffiths.
Media pundits, shellshocked by Donald Trump's victory, will likely spend days trying to dissect the presidential outcome to figure out how their predictions and election models turned out so wrong. While they will continue to talk about "white males" and the impact Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson had on the race, take a look at the following raw data from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania exit polls:
According to the exit polls in all three states, Clinton and Trump have near identical numbers in terms of the percent of their own party's voters casting a ballot for them (i.e. it doesn't appear "white males" from the Democratic Party jumped to Trump). Where Trump's margins came from is with registered independent voters, and no one in the media is talking about this.
IVN reported Monday that a surge in independent voters in key battleground states was upending the election models that under-sample or completely ignore these voters. Whatever news coverage there was mentioning this surge dismissed it as mostly a side note and all election models touted by online media, cable news, Nate Silver, Moody's Analytics, leading up to election night all had Clinton winning and often winning by an electoral landslide.
No one in the media saw this coming because they overlooked the voters that are consistently ignored at every institutional level of our political system, from taxpayer-funded primary elections they have limited or no choice in (Pennsylvania, for instance, has closed presidential primaries) to two-sided media coverage.
"This election was determined by all those voters who the parties excluded from the primary process and therefore didn’t have a vested interest in either candidate until the general election," said Dan Howle, co-chair of the Independent Voter Project (a co-publisher of IVN.us).
In Wisconsin and Michigan, registered independents accounted for approximately one-third of the vote. They may overtake both parties in the next election. With the supposed "data advantage" the Clinton camp had, it is surprising -- baffling really -- that they didn't understand this demographic, because Hillary didn't make many stops in any of these supposedly "safe blue" states.
Political pundits and commentators on CNN scratched their heads at why Trump was making so many appearances in states they claimed he had no shot at winning. Yet with all of the election data CNN had at its disposal, they couldn't put the pieces together as to what Trump's strategy was. They scoffed at Trump for making stops in Michigan and Wisconsin. Today they are stunned.
Looking at these three states, many of the independent voters that showed up at the polls are likely blue-collar workers, who have watched manufacturing jobs leave their towns and cities in droves. They are middle-income men and women who have watched their health care premiums skyrocket, regardless of health care subsidies that some of them may not even qualify for. They are looking at a political system that has ignored them at every institutional level for decades.
When offered a choice between more of the same and something new, the answer was clear for a majority of these voters.
As one pundit put it, when you go to the gift shop at the airport there are two shirts. Trump's says, "Make America Great Again." Hillary's says, "Hillary."
Knowing this, are we really surprised that Trump won the 2016 presidential election?