Trump’s victory indicates polls’ failure in reflecting public sentiment

In Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election, Donald Trump won the presidency despite most of the analysts and opinion polls predicting his defeat to his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

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U.S. pundits, experts and pollsters are now scrambling to figure out why most of them failed to predict Trump’s victory.

“The polls did not accurately measure public opinion and that is one of the reasons everyone was surprised on election night. Some voters did not want to tell pollsters they supported Trump because they didn’t want to reveal their private preferences,” Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.

Indeed, the New York real estate billionaire has been viewed too controversial for his bombastic speeches. Early in his campaign, Trump made insulting comments against Mexicans, calling them criminals and rapists, and calling for mass deportation of illegal immigrants, millions of whom are Hispanic.

Wanting to avoid being called racists themselves, many Americans kept quiet about their choice of Trump.

But statistics show, in the end, 53 percent of white women voters actually cast their ballot for Trump. “More than half of white women supported Trump because he addressed their concerns. They feel he will improve their economic lives,” West added.

The reason was simple — economics. At a time when the country has still not recovered fully from the 2007-2008 economic meltdown, many Americans — especially in rural communities left behind by the economy — believe U.S. President Barack Obama has failed to improve the economy over the last eight years.

While large cities like New York and Washington have plentiful job opportunities, many rural areas have been faring terribly over the past several years.

Trump supporters say the billionaire was the only candidate — out of what began as a large pool — to grasp the severity of the situation and understand the plight of those suffering to make ends meet in one of the weakest job markets in decades.

While the official jobless rate is around 5 percent, economists say the number masks the true sickness of the economy. For example, if an unemployed engineer spends a Saturday afternoon mowing his neighbor’s lawn, he is considered employed for a period of time.

The unemployment rate also does not take into consideration the millions of Americans who have given up looking for work due to utter lack of prospects, as the rate measures only those who are actively looking for full-time employment.

Millions of Americans are receiving government-issued food stamps, as they cannot afford to eat enough without them. Illegal drug use is becoming an epidemic in rural areas, and many — even senior citizens — are selling illegally-obtained drugs in order to supplement their meager incomes.

Central to Trump’s campaign was that the country has been in decay, and his simple mantra of “make America great again” was a motto that appealed to many rural voters.

Dan Lee, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, told Xinhua that technically, the national polls were correct, in terms of at least picking the correct winner of the popular vote, which Clinton won. Trump clinched the presidency because he won the electoral vote.

“The problem is that they (polls) missed in the same direction across states, especially in the swing states. But we know that this is likely how they would miss,” he said.

Lee noted there are also other survey issues: It is increasingly hard to poll, given the high number of cell phone usage and extremely low response rates. It is also hard to pinpoint “likely voters,” he said.

“That might be especially important in this election, if voter turnout played as significant a role as suggested in early interpretations of what happened,” he added.

Experts said it will take several months to fully determine all the details of why Trump pulled off a victory. Enditem

Source: Matthew Rusling, Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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