Trump win startles pollsters: What they got wrong

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – President-elect Donald Trump pulled off a big victory in the states he needed most, capturing the vast majority of middle America, including southern and eastern Ohio.

It was a win that few pollsters had expected.

Trump won Ohio by eight points, far beyond the margin of error in most of the polls and by just a single point in Pennsylvania, where he had been projected for weeks to be losing.

So how did so many polling organizations get this race so wrong? One local expert believes those conducting the research missed some very important clues.

President-elect Donald Trump gives his acceptance speech during his election night rally, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/John Locher)
President-elect Donald Trump gives his acceptance speech during his election night rally, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/John Locher)

For weeks, and even months, many of the respected polling organizations showed states such as Pennsylvania, Florida and others as likely to go to Clinton.

The head of Youngstown State University’s Political Science Department says many of Trump’s voters did not trust the polls. He said many respondents may have feared being judged for giving their views while others simply never bothered to answer at all.

“They already know that these national organizations thought Trump was ridiculous, and therefore you were ridiculous if you said you were supporting Trump, and people didn’t want to look like that, so I think that’s what sort of caused people to be reluctant,” said Dr. Paul Sracic.

Sracic said polling organizations also failed to pick up on the numbers of Democrats who were going to cross-over and vote for Trump — similar to the so-called “Reagan Democrats” of the 1980s.

“There were definitely people who were expected to vote Democratic, who crossed over and voted Republican. That is the big story in this election,” he said.

In Mahoning County, an area that traditionally votes Democrat, the split between Hillary Clinton and Trump largely followed geographical boundaries.

According to the unofficial results from the Board of Elections, Clinton won the county by about 3 percentage points, or just under 3,400 votes. In fact, Clinton won every precinct in both Youngstown and Campbell, as well as Austintown and Struthers.

Trump won in Boardman and won in all but four precincts in the rest of the county. He also took the traditionally-Democratic Trumbull County, and pulled off a landslide win in Columbiana County.

Supporters said Trump portrayed himself as an agent of change, which resonated with voters.

“These folks were simply tired and had reached their limit with political elites and political insiders that think that they’re above the law,” said Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta.

Looking ahead, Johnson thinks there is a huge lesson that can be learned, based on these results.

“Here’s what the Democratic Party and the Republican Party better understand. They better go to school on this election and understand that it’s not gonna go back to the way it was,” he said.

Johnson said those discussions have already started in Washington.

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