I never saw this coming. All the data, all the polls, all the polling trends, all the ground game models, etc. suggested this was not going to happen. That it did shows the “shy voters” phenomenon actually is real and we need to consider moving forward that there are a lot of people who so distrust the system that they don’t think they can even talk to an anonymous pollster. That really is something. I do not understand or relate to that level of distrust in the system, but it is prevalent in minority communities and clearly also in segments of the white community. We need to be mindful of that as we shape our opinions.
Second, because all the data got it wrong, we are moving into a world where we cannot trust the data and more and more anecdote is going to replace data. The problem with this is that it incentivizes more tribalism. If everyone in your tribe agrees with something, it is automatically going to be considered a winner. That is a dangerous situation for a lot of reasons, chief among them that it has the potential to create terrible policy. We need to continue to not be afraid to push back on ideas that are bad, but at the same time do so with the humility that comes from misreading all the signals of this election season.
When I was a political consultant, I told all of my clients one thing: know when you are in the minority, even when you think you are right. We need to do a better job of determining if we are in the minority and if we are and if we still think we are right then doing a better job explaining why we think we are right and persuading people to our side.
Third, we have to give Donald Trump leeway and grace. He won when we did not think he could. Surely there are other things about which we are wrong. Let him show us that he will keep his word. But, as we have long done with the Republicans, we cannot be afraid to hold him and the GOP accountable. There will be increased pushback that we are wrong because we got the election wrong. But, again, if we are convinced that we are right, we need to both persuade and hold our own side to our side’s promises. If we do not hold our side accountable, the voters will in two years.
Fourth, many of the things the left accused the right of will now be done by the left. We should not hesitate to point out the hypocrisy. We should point out the double standards. I suspect much of the media will double down on contempt for heartland voters instead of realizing that they missed much and failed to relate. We should not make that mistake. We should relate.
Lastly, we should not be afraid to own being wrong. We were. There’s no reason to dance around it or hide it or send things down a memory hole. We got this wrong. That does not make our ideas or concerns wrong, but we certainly go the election wrong and should not mince words about it. We should not be defiant in defeat, but humble and acknowledge we may have been wrong about other things too.
On a personal note, there is one other area in which I personally feel the need to push back. There is going to be a lot of bad theology out there now. Many people are, I am afraid, going to read more into the election and God’s will than is prudent. I think all Christians have a duty to be vigilant that we do not impose our will on God and I think Christians are going to be tempted by seats at tables of power. That’s going to be something to watch.
Through this process our job at The Resurgent is to create a resurgent conservatism that remembers it values limited government, free people, and free markets. The principles are right and timeless and universal and getting an election wrong does not mean timeless ideas are wrong.