Well, wasn’t that fun?

For Republicans, yes. For Democrats, not much.

Election 2016 will be remembered for Donald Trump‘s surprising victory, snatching the keys to the White House away from Hillary Clinton, who until the final days of the campaign appeared to be a cinch to become the first woman to serve as U.S. president.

The list of those surprised by Trump’s victory is long indeed, including most pollsters. Were so many polls proven wrong by the electorate because of deficiencies in the survey process — or did citizens simply lie when the pollsters called? (Revenge for dinner-hour interruptions, perhaps?)

You can bet that pollsters are doing their own post mortems. They need to get this stuff right, or they are out of business.

Some preliminary conclusions about why so many polls were so wrong about the Clinton-Trump race include screening out Trump supporters who had never voted before — not good candidates for the “likely voter” category pollsters seek — and thus underestimating the Republican’s support. Those “unlikely voters” became voters Tuesday.

Another reason is response (participation) rates are dropping. More and more people don’t want to be bothered taking yet another poll.

Like lots of other surveys, the Dubuque-based Loras College Poll predicted a comfortable victory for Clinton in Illinois. The poll showed her leading by 11 points, when on Election Day she carried the state by 16.

However, also like lots of other pollsters, the folks at Loras did not foresee the Trump tidal wave elsewhere. It showed a 1 percentage point lead for Clinton in Iowa (well within the margin of error) when Trump carried the state by 10 points. The bigger surprise was Wisconsin, where the poll showed Clinton easily winning, by 6 points (outside the margin of error), but Trump turned the tables and pulled out a 1-point victory.

In the region’s races for the U.S. Senate, Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson won the rematch against Russ Feingold by 3 points. The Loras Poll had Feingold leading by just 2 points (again well within the margin of error). The whippings applied by Republican Chuck Grassley in Iowa and Democrat Tammy Duckworth in Illinois to their opponents, Patty Judge and Mark Kirk, respectively, were more substantial than the Loras Poll correctly predicted.

In Iowa’s 1st District race for U.S. House, incumbent Republican Rod Blum won a second term by 8 points over Monica Vernon — not quite the 11 points his own poll recently predicted, but still a couple of points higher than the Loras Poll showed a few days before the election.

So, while Democrats lick their wounds and try to figure out what went wrong, expect polling organizations to review their processes and procedures in time for the next cycle.


Trump’s coattails apparently were longer than many anticipated. They reached into the Iowa Statehouse, where the GOP wrested the majority in the Senate, ensuring that Dubuque Democrat Pam Jochum‘s stint as president of the chamber will end. At least she won re-election (virtually unopposed). Mike Gronstal, the chamber’s top Democrat, lost his re-election bid in his Council Bluffs district.

The Iowa GOP now joins Wisconsin Republicans in holding the “trifecta” — governor both chambers of their respective legislatures. (With Trump’s victory, Republicans hold the same on the federal level.)

Republicans picked up a Dubuque County seat in the Iowa House, where they already were in the majority, when Republican Shannon Lundgren defeated Tom Stecher in their District 57 race to succeed Democrat Nancy Dunkel, who did not seek re-election.


You might well feel sick and tired of seeing politicians’ TV ads. However, if you can handle it, check out Roll Call’s video of what it determined to be the past election cycle’s best spots.

“Effective, funny or downright bizarre,” Roll Call said, “these ads caught our attention.” Among them was Chuck Grassley’s take-off of “Ferris Buller’s Day Off” to poke at Patty Judge’s spotty attendance record. Another spot was a two-for-one special in which two Wisconsin Republicans, Sen. Ron Johnson and 7th District congressional candidate Sean Duffy, teamed up. They all won their races.

Noteworthy commercials notwithstanding, six of the 10 candidates featured lost, including Senate candidate Jason Kander, who made his pitch while assembling an AR-15 rifle — blindfolded.

Watch the three-minute video at tinyurl.com/grqfw43.


Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, has been elected president pro tempore of the Wisconsin State Senate. He will be formally sworn in during the Inauguration of the Wisconsin Legislature on Jan. 3.

• Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky and U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, both Republicans (of course), have been announced as special guests at Gov. Terry Branstad‘s annual “Birthday Bash” this coming Saturday, Nov. 19, at Adventureland Park Palace Theater in Altoona.


6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19 — Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad‘s Birthday Bash, Adventureland Park Palace Theater, Altoona. $50. Details and tickets: http://tinyurl.com/jhdfbpn.

Countdown: 723 days until the mid-term elections of 2018. (Sorry!)

Cooper has been TH executive editor since 1986.

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