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The Swamp Drainers; "Not My President"; Democratic Autopsy; Inside Trump's Victory and Administration Picks; Which Trump Will Be President?; Did Bridgegate Hurt Christie's Chances?; Is Electoral College System Fair?; How Did Pollsters Get it Wrong?; Why Trump Won Over Swing State Voters; Autopsy For The Democratic Party. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired November 12, 2016 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:51] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Smerconish, live from Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. We welcome our viewers at home and around the world on this, our first broadcast on the watch of President-elect Donald J. Trump. After his kinder, gentler victory speech and a long meeting with President Obama, Trump is assembling his swamp draining team, who's in, who's out? The RNC's Sean Spicer is here.
Chris Christie was the first of Trump's presidential opponents to jump on board, but is he about to be shunned due to Bridgegate or a loyalty issue?
And continued protests about the election results last night in cities around the nation under the banner "Not My President", one reason, Clinton actually won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College. So some are lobbying the electors to switch their vote before December 19 and others want to do away with the system entirely. Can either happen?
Plus, you'll meet David Urban, the man who finally delivered my home state of Pennsylvania to a GOP presidential candidate. And I'll be joined by card-carrying liberal Thomas Frank to begin the Democratic autopsy.
And finally, while a lot of pollsters had to eat crow after the election, expert Sam Wong promised that he'd eat a bug if Trump got more than 240 electoral votes. He's here and I hope he's hungry.
But first, he didn't get my vote, neither did she, but he's about to be my president and until his official conduct demands otherwise, I intend to afford him the dignity and respect befitting someone who assumes the highest office in the land. That's what I promised when before the election I said here that regardless of the victor, the outcome would require forbearance.
At the time, Hillary Clinton's election seemed a certainty that Donald Trump was victorious doesn't change my premise. I'm willing to give the President-elect a fresh start in the name of national unity. That doesn't mean that I'll soon forget the past but that from this moment forward, it will be his actions as president that will determine his reception at least from me, however remote, there is the prospect of him surprising us and governing in a manner different than he campaigned. The Donald Trump who accepted victory in the wee hour of Wednesday morning was not the candidate who stood on stage and belittled Little Marco or Lying Ted. Instead, his acceptance speech was gracious.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R) PRESIDENT-ELECT: Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I mean that very sincerely. Now it's time for America to bind the wounds of division. We have to get together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: The next morning, Secretary Clinton wearing nonpartisan purple struck a similar cord.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power and we don't just respect that, we cherish it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Even President Obama said that he was heartened by Trump's conciliatory words noting we're all on the same team. We're all Americans first. Trump, Clinton, Obama, they're all acting like statesmen and providing leadership that the nation desperately needs. Now, their message needs to be followed by other politicians and the public.
Partisan competition, that's healthy, democracy depends upon it. But it's time to elevate the debate, to return civility to governance and end partisan gridlock. This is not a time for pay backs. Perhaps it's naive to think that Trump is capable of any better, given the way that he campaigned with such vengeance toward "Crooked Hillary", but looking back on primary season, he gave me cause for hope of how he might lead when he quoted 2 Corinthians at Liberty University.
[09:05:10] I'm not crediting him for quoting scripture, to the contrary his awkward reference to the New Testament evidenced a lack of awareness to beliefs certain of his supporters held here. Some saw a shallow attempt to ingratiate. I'd like to think I heard words from a man who wasn't a purist but a deal maker, a pragmatist who knows how to sell and close a deal. This former Democrat who once contributed to the candidate he just defeated never showed an ideological commitment to any extreme before becoming a candidate. And maybe that's what we'll get in the White House, a compromiser in chief. One can only hope. This morning's "New York Times" reports that Trump himself was shocked that he won.
Joining me now, a man who was on the inside from day one, RNC Chief Strategist and Communications Director Sean Spicer.
Sean, first, congratulations on an unbelievable victory.
SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, RNC: Hello. Good morning and thank you.
SMERCONISH: Be honest, did you think you'd get north of 240 electoral votes?
SPICER: We knew there was a path that we had the momentum and you saw the number of people that were coming out and waiting in line in those rallies last the couple days. And when you do this and you're disinvested, you know, on either side frankly because I know the Clinton campaign would say the same thing, you have to have that hope and you have to believe that. But I don't think that I ever thought that I'd see a number go north at 279 and see states like Michigan and some of the counties in Wisconsin that went heavily for Obama that flipped to Trump.
So, this victory is one that was, you know, up and down the ticket. And the Trump movement and message really resonated from one coast to another.
SMERCONISH: Let's talk transition. What happened to Governor Christie?
SPICER: I don't know. I know that obviously, you know, Mr. Trump has a ton of faith in Governor Pence and his connections and stature in Washington. He's been a very successful governor and he'd been a very successful member of the House of Representatives. And I think now that we're in that phase, he obviously wanted to look at some of the people that would lead that transition more carefully and more thoroughly and he made a decision.
SMERCONISH: Reportedly Mr. Trump said that it was because of Governor Pence's contacts and experience in Washington that he wanted him to play this lead role for the transition. But if, in fact, he's turning to Governor Pence because of experience in D.C. and cultivating names like Giuliani and Gingrich maybe even Jamie Dimon, it doesn't sound like the swamp is getting drained, if you're relying on the same old faces.
SPICER: Well, I don't think those are all the same old faces. I mean, Mayor Giuliani has never held a post from Washington, D.C. in a senior post like this. Jamie Dimon hasn't.
Not that I know anything about those names, but I think more importantly than the names is division. You know, leadership starts at the top. And I think everybody who comes into a Trump administration will understand what's expected of them to change how this government operates and it is more responsive to the American people and then tries to lift people up and end bureaucracy and get things like veterans care to those who need it most.
SMERCONISH: Your boss, Reince Priebus reportedly under consideration as Steve Bannon for the position of chief of staff. Do you worry about the message that would be sent if in fact it's Bannon given his controversial past and he is a lightning rod, you've got to admire the skill set that he used in the campaign, but he's a lightning rod. If he is the chief of staff, what message does that sent?
SPICER: Again, I don't -- we're basically not even a hundred hours out from one of the most historic elections in modern history. And I think that there's going to be plenty of time for Mr. Trump to make staff decisions and for people for him to articulate why he has chosen different people to carry out various roles and implement his vision.
So, I don't want to get the cart before the horse. We'll let Mr. Trump make those decisions as to who he will ask to serve in his administration at an appropriate time.
SMERCONISH: Hey, Sean, at the outset of the program I said he's my president. You know, I am of the opinion and I would have said the same thing if it were Hillary Clinton today that he is deserving of a fresh start. Let me ask you this question, do you think that he has an obligation to be conciliatory? I ask that question because the likes of Pat Buchanan and Rush Limbaugh pretty much say, I'm paraphrasing, hey, we won. We've got both Houses and, you know, let's go full on now with our agenda. There's no need to be looking leftward as we advance. What do you say?
[09:10:02] SPICER: Well, I think tone matters and I think he -- Mr. Trump struck that tone early Wednesday morning when he talked about what he wanted to do and how he wanted to do it and how he wanted to bring people together. He struck a similar tone during his meetings at Capitol Hill and in the Oval Office with President Obama.
There's a big difference, though. I think he -- when it comes to setting his agenda and understanding that frankly the mandate that the American people gave him from around the country, they want him to do what he said he was going to do. They want him to bring the change. They want him to enact policies that are going to look after the American worker, the American family, business owners.
I think Mr. Trump wants everybody who understands that the America people spoke very loudly and very clearly on Tuesday, that they are ready for change, that they want an end to the status quo, that they're tired of the excuses and they want to see things getting done. If you want to be part of that, then you're welcome to join and we welcome you to that movement.
SMERCONISH: I don't know which President Trump we're going to get. I look at the past 48 hours with regard to these protesters and, you know, he sent out successive tweets, the first that was critical of the media and referred to the protesters as being unfair and then he followed it up Friday morning. And Friday morning he was saying, you know, democracy is a wonderful thing and I want to embrace everybody and he was much more conciliatory. I mean, explain that dichotomy to me and tell me which of those two is about to become the president. SPICER: Everyone has a transition period from being a candidate to going into the governing phase if you will. And he is in that phase now. If -- OK, the campaign is over, I am now about to assume the presidency of the United States. And so there is a sort of a transition into that phase, if you will. But he's clearly struck the right tone in the second tweet where he talks about the beauty of our country and our First Amendment rights and the ability to go out there and express ourselves. And yet we want them to, you know, everybody who, you know, may not have join -- have voted for him to understand that we welcome them to be part of this. We want their support. We hope that they will give Mr. Trump and Governor Pence an opportunity to lead this country and to be part of the process and have their voice heard.
SMERCONISH: You've run communications for the RNC. You're the chief strategist. You run communication for the RNC. I have a serious question, do you believe that he sent both of those tweets himself?
SPICER: I assume so, yeah.
SMERCONISH: You assume -- you're not sure. I mean did you ask him?
SPICER: I wasn't with him, so I don't know. But Mr. Trump's not a guy who -- you know, he's very clear about, you know, he speaks for himself. And so, I don't think that somebody just randomly did that. That wouldn't be in keeping with how he operates.
SMERCONISH: But -- I know, but there's no consistency there. They just don't -- they truly don't seem to be coming from the same person which is why I ask.
SPICER: Again, I think we're making a lot to do about nothing. He understands the role that he's playing now. I think the tone that he struck in his meetings in Capitol Hill and with the President, the comments that he made early Wednesday morning are what you're going to continue to see, someone who really, truly cares about this nation, who wants to do better, who wants to enact policies that are going help every segment of this country who wants to be inclusive. So I think you'll see more and more of that now that the campaign phase is slowly fading away.
SMERCONISH: All right, final question, you clearly have the credentials to be the White House Press Secretary. Do you think you have the temperament? I ask that because I don't think I would. I don't think I'd be able to stand at that podium and maintain -- I'd be doing a slow burn. I don't think that I could maintain my cool while listening to some of that back and forth with the press core. Do you have the temperament?
SPICER: Well, I'll tell Mr. Trump you're not interested. But look, I enjoy my job now. I'm honored that I've been able to be part of this movement, this campaign and frankly this party. It's been an honor to be have this position and I thank Reince Piebus for giving me this opportunity. And, you know, look ...
SMERCONISH: All right. That's an answer that a Press Secretary would give. That's a good answer. That's good. You're qualified. You're in. Sean, thank you. I'm out of time.
SPICER: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: But thank you so much. OK.
SPICER: Thanks, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Hey, a lot of tweets already coming in, in particular about my opening commentary. "Smerconish not a chance in hell. You don't get to dog whistle cheat to win and then think you get a pass. You're an ass to suggest it."
I might be an ass, he's my president, the guy won fair and square and I'm just saying I'm moving forward. I'm not forgetting. I'm moving forward.
Time for another one, we're going to have a lot of tweets during the course of this program quickly. "He won, Michael. He does not need haters to give him a so-called fresh start. He was never stale."
[09:15:02] I'm not a hater. I'm a critic. I'm a critic of all of them.
All right, next, what does the future hold for Chris Christie? He was the first of Trump's one-time GOP opponents to get on the Trump train, but that was before the Bridgegate trial and his criticism of Trump's so-called locker room talk when the Billy Bush video was leaked. Yesterday came word that President-elect Mike -- Vice President-elect Mike Pence not Christie is running the Trump transition.
Joining me now, the Christie expert, Matt Katz, reporter for WNYC Public Radio, author of "American Governor: Chris Christie's Bridge to Redemption".
Matt, read the tea leaves, what just happened with Christie?
MATT KATZ, REPORTER, WNYC PUBLIC RADIO: The positive way of looking at this if you're in the Christie camp, and I'm getting -- hearing this from them over the last 24 hours is that this is not a demotion the fact that he went from the head of the transition team to the vice chair of the transition team. It is an indication that another job could be in the offing. They think it is in the offing. And potentially, that job, the one that I believe Christie would want the most would be attorney general. And if you're going to be attorney general of the United States, you can't be in charge of building out a new government.
So, in that sense, it would make sense that, you know, this is why he is down from that position. They say there's the natural on boarding of the campaign. The campaign team is coming on. Pence is involved now. So Christie moves away and he's got another job coming. However ...
KATZ: ... Christie does have two major problems. SMERCONISH: Matt?
SMERCONISH: Right. I was going to say I mean while the nation was focused on the election, there was a Bridgegate trial with two convictions.
SMERCONISH: He was not charged with anything, but what did we learn from the Bridgegate trial about Governor Christie if anything?
KATZ: Right, right. And this is obviously an issue and something that's playing against him. We learned that there was a pattern of retaliation that was happening in the Christie administration against way ward politicians. Politicians that for one reason or another were against Christie that there were revenge plots against them that went up to the top of the administration.
We were told by both prosecutors and defense attorneys that Christie was aware of this scheme to close lanes to the George Washington Bridge to punish a mayor and cause a traffic jam because that mayor did not endorse Christie. Christie continues to deny this but he's also frankly lied over the last few days about his role in it. He said he fired three of those who have been convicted in this as soon as he found out about it. It's not true. In fact, two of those people resigned with praise from him during the cover-up period before it came out in the press.
So, you know, he is really like trying to clean up this Bridgegate mess, but it has certainly been a mess. It's taken a toll on his reputation in New Jersey. He's at 19 percent favorability ratings, even most Republicans don't believe that he didn't know anything about it as he's claimed. And certainly in Trump Tower, there's concern that this could dog him, but, you know, with the Republican Senate, I don't see why he couldn't get confirmed for any job that President Trump might want to give him.
SMERCONISH: I'm putting up on the screen a photograph, it was taken on September 11th, 2013. I don't know whether you have a monitor, but you know the photograph to which I refer. According to the evidence in the Bridgegate trial, what is taking place in this photograph?
KATZ: While the traffic was happening in Fort. Lee, Christie went to a 9/11 ceremony on 9/11 at ground zero. This ground zero is run by the same agency, the port authority that runs the bridge. And while he is there, while people are stuck in traffic as he is preparing to go into the solemn ceremony, according to those in the picture, he was told about this traffic jam and they laughed about it. They were told that they were -- there was some indication and wink and a nod that they were punishing this mayor of this little town of Fort Lee for not endorsing him and they all had a good laugh about it. Christie has ...
SMERCONISH: OK. KATZ: ... denied this as completely bogus.
SMERCONISH: I was about to say, Matt Katz and thank you again for being here. Chris Christie says that's just not true. He would remember it. That's not why he is laughing. I appreciate your analysis and we'll continue to follow your reportage at WNYC. So thank you for that.
KATZ: Thank you, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Lots of tweets. We're being overwhelmed, "@smerconish, how can you justify proudly announcing that you voted neither for Trump or Clinton. What kind of example are you setting?"
MArthur, here's the kind of example that I'm setting, I am 54. When I turned 18, I registered to vote in the spring of 1980 and I have never missed an election, not one, not dogcatcher, not president, not ever. So, you can question me on for whom I vote, but I've never missed my opportunity to exercise the franchise. Go talk to the 50 million who didn't even get out and cast a ballot, frankly, it's more than that, it's half the country.
[09:20:11] Still to come, as with Bush-Gore in 2000, the candidate who won the popular vote is not our next president. Thanks to the Electoral College. So there are petitions to get electors to switch their vote or to dump the system altogether. You're about to meet one of the electors.
And neuroscientist polling expert Sam Wong promised to eat a bug if Donald Trump won more than 240 electoral votes. So viewers have been sending in helpful recipes. Let's take a look at some, olive oil and glazed vinegar to mask the taste. Well, he will be here at least to eat some crow.
SMERCONISH: The election results won't become official until December 19, that's the day the 538 electors of the Electoral College gather its state capitals across the country. They cast their votes. And because Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College, the system is once again in the spotlight.
[09:25:05] There's no constitutional provision or Federal Law that requires electors to vote according to the results of the popular vote in their states, but state laws in 25 states and the District of Colombia currently do require them to follow the popular vote.
So, some Clinton supporters have been lobbying electors to switch their votes to the Democratic nominee, a change.org petition urging electors to vote for Clinton had a mass 3.3 million signatures as of this morning.
Joining me now, one elector from the state of Texas, firefighter and paramedic, Chris Suprun.
Hey, Chris, first, I salute you. You are one of the first responders on September 11 to rush into the Pentagon. Thank you for that, sir. I also know that there was some false reporting about the way you look at your responsibility. Speak to that issue.
CHRIS SUPRUN, ELECTORAL COLLEGE MEMBER FROM TEXAS: Well, there was an article -- first of, thank you for having me, Michael. But there was an article in August in Politico where it indicated that I was considering voting for Secretary Clinton. And that reporting was just inaccurate. It was argued at the time with a reporter that it was inaccurate and they would neither print a retraction nor correction. And the issue has really died down I think for the most part because people didn't give President-elect Trump a chance to win the election. It's where the -- again though, now that he has and surprised everyone.
SMERCONISH: OK. When you get there, December 19, you will be casting your Electoral College vote for Donald J. Trump.
SUPRUN: Donald J. Trump.
SMERCONISH: And you represent an area, correct me if I'm wrong, but the congressional district sending you there, which is centered on Dallas, was an area where Hillary Clinton drew a lot of support.
SUPRUN: That is accurate. I do not know the exact numbers, but more than likely.
SMERCONISH: So, what do you make of the debate where some say, you know, maybe the Electoral College should be obligated or shouldn't be obligated to follow the will of the majority? I mean, you're the guy who's actually getting to play this role. I'm sort of envious. What's your opinion?
SUPRUN: My opinion -- well, let me switch gears if I can. And I don't want to earn the entire wrath of the city of Chicago, but no one out there that I know of is suggesting that the Cubs should have lost the World Series simply because the Indians and Cubs both score the same number of runs. The system in place for the World Series is who wins four games first. And in the presidential election, it's the same situation. It's who gets to 270 votes first. Secretary Clinton knew that when she got in the race, President-elect Trump knew that, Jill Stine and so forth.
So I'm not real clear on why there's this push now for people to say the popular vote should matter more than the Electoral College system which was the rules everyone agreed to before we began the race.
SMERCONISH: I think what I hear you saying is to the extent that this subject gets revisited, it should be forward looking and certainly not retroactive because to your point these were the ground rules that everybody agreed to play by in the 2016 presidential election.
SUPRUN: Well, Michael, I won't go there actually. I -- first of, retroactively, it is the system that was in place. But going forward, I think the Electoral College is the appropriate vehicle to elect our presidents. I think most people forget but the Electoral College comes from a tradition of our founding fathers to protect the will of the majority while also protecting the interest of minorities like the right to trial by jury like the filibuster in the United States Senate.
The Electoral College makes sure that there's not an out weighted value placed on California, Florida, New York and even Texas, but that all states matter whether it's Wisconsin and Pennsylvania or Iowa and Wyoming.
SMERCONISH: Chris Suprun, thank you for giving the platform to that argument. You set up beautifully my next guest. I salute your service and have fun on December 19.
So, on this subject that he just raised of whether the Electoral College should be abolished, my next guest says differently than my last. Yes, Douglas McAdam is a professor of Sociology at Stanford University and co-author of "Deeply Divided: Racial Politics and Social Movements in America".
Professor, respond to Mr. Suprun.
DOUGLAS McADAM, SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: Well, I also think if we are going to revisit this issue, it ought to be going forward. I don't think obviously we should change the results of the election that were -- that was conducted under the rules as set forth. I think there's a real issue though with the ultimate utility of the Electoral College at this point in time.
You know, there's no principle that's more fundamental to a Democratic theory of governance than the principle of political equality. That is regardless of race, free color, material circumstances, the views of every citizen should be weighted equally in an Electoral College system, every vote certainly doesn't count equally. The votes that happen to be cast in battleground states, the half a dozen states that decide elections, clearly count much more than votes in say ...
[09:30:02] DOUGLAS MCADAM, SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: ...every vote certainly doesn't count equally. The votes that happened to be cast in battleground states, the half a dozen states that decide elections clearly count much more than votes in safe Republican or safe Democratic states. That seems to me to be -- to really fly in the face of this central principle of political equality.
We also, as we sort of grow up in this country and we vote in all sorts of lesser elections, the principle of majority rule seem to prevail in virtually every other election. I don't understand why at this point in time we continue to adhere to a system that, again, undermines, in my view, the principle of political equality and simply doesn't follow the straightforward logic of majority rule.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: You certainly know all the arguments that get advanced in support of keeping the Electoral College. I don't have time to run through all, but a favorite is the problematic recount. In other words, if we have the situation that we had on our hands in 2000 where the popular vote margin seems like it was much closer than it will be from last Tuesday, how do you go about a recount in all 50 states instead of just isolating on a particular state integral to the Electoral College?
MCADAM: Yeah. I still think that's a tractable issue, I think in, you know, given modern technology, even a recount in a very, very close race should not undermine the ability to do that. So I don't really see that as a really credible argument. I should say by the way, you know, people say, "Well, this is the way we've always done it."
In point of fact, the logic of the Electoral College acts as set forth by Hamilton and Madison and others was that the voting citizens that is property white males would elect a set of electors, really upstanding citizens, who themselves would decide who the president was going to be. They were not to be bound by the popular vote in their states. So we've moved very far away from the system as it was originally envisioned.
SMERCONISH: Professor McAdam, thank you so much for your expertise. I appreciate your book as well.
MCADAM: Thank you, Michael.
SMERCONISH: When you're wrong -- thank you sir.
When you're wrong, you're wrong. And neuroscientists and number crunchier extraordinary Sam Wang, Founder of the Princeton Election Consortium, he called 49 of 50 states in 2012, but like many others, he got Tuesday wrong. He was here last weekend and could not be swayed from his conviction that Clinton would win.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAM WANG, FOUNDER, PRINCETON ELECTION CONSORTIUM: Honestly, this race is the most stable, statistically speaking since Eisenhower beat Stevenson in 1952. I think that there's drama and then there's data. And state polls are a very good gauge of where things are going to go next Tuesday.
SMERCONISH: What about the argument that says that no poll has properly taken an uprisal of Donald Trump's true strength, perhaps because people are embarrassed to say a pollster, "I'm for him."
WANG: Oh no, no, no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Dr. Wang promised to eat a bug if Trump won more than 240 electoral votes, which inspired an avalanche in my Twitter page. Here's just one of many. "Will you please have Dr. Wang back on to discuss where his logic went wrong and how he plans to change? Hoping to see bug eating video."
Dr. Wang, you're a good man for being here. Many others would have simply ducked. What did go differently than you envisioned?
WANG: Well, certainly I was wrong and I will say that I rely heavily as all poll aggregators do on the pollster community being accurate together. And last week, we saw a pretty large pollster error in presidential races and Senate races and House races up and down an error of 4 to 6 percentage points, and that is an unusually larger error. So I agree that I was wrong. And I was doing what I have tried to do in the past, which is be a transparent aggregator of polling data.
SMERCONISH: Do you now reconsider your view of a week ago as to this issue of a hidden Trump vote?
WANG: Well, I think there's a very important point here, which is still the same. And even though I was wrong about the outcome, it is very much the case that voters are polarized. Hillary Clinton's vote came in a little bit above her polls and Donald Trump came in about three or four points ahead of his polls.
I think if you look at the data, it looks like there are some undecided voters. If you look closely at the data, the cross tabs and all the details of the polls suggest that there are Republicans who were torn between party loyalty and voting for a fairly radical candidate. And Mr. Trump is unusual and we're about to see how unusual he is. And I think it showed in public opinion before at least before the Comey announcement and then a jump after the Comey announcement.
[09:35:04] SMERCONISH: In defense of polling, if you look at the popular vote totals, then the pollsters and those who crunched the data were not so wrong. Is that a fair statement?
WANG: Yeah. So, if you look at the national popular vote, it looks like Hillary Clinton's win of 1.7 percentage points was not as far off because polls indicated a four-point win by her. And just to go back further in time, look, back in January, I pointed out that Donald Trump was the odds on favorite to get the nomination and that was based on opinion polling data. So I think it is not time to throw out opinion polling data, but it is time to ask an important and close race, is there some way to do a little bit better and to refine methods so that in these close races then, you know, more accurate data would be available?
SMERCONISH: Fast forward four years, you can imagine whomever the candidates might be, someone is going to be saying and frankly for a lot longer than four years from now, "Well, of course you remember what happened in 2016 with Donald Trump."
WANG: Yes. Yeah, that's a likely thing to happen. I mean, I think that one thing that's really difficult to gauge is undecided voters. There's going to be second guessing I think on -- as to whether white non-college voters in the Rust Belt were missed. But I think that probably the biggest innovation in the coming years as polling gets even more difficult is to figure out what to do with people who say they're undecided, whether they're shy or whether they just don't know. I will say that when got into poll aggregation in 2004, my original reason was to get people talking about policy issues and not so much in horse race. Obviously, things have not gone in that direction. With all due respect, the national media seems to be interested more in, say, I don't know, e-mails rather than policy issues.
And, you know, honestly building a wall is, in some sense, a policy issue. So that's a policy issue. But I think that really polling and horse race might take a step back in the news and that might not be a bad thing.
SMERCONISH: OK. Finally, the bug, what about the bug?
WANG: Can you see this?
WANG: This is a can of gourmet style crickets, and gourmet from the point of view of a pet, I should say. I'm told that it's a great source of protein and so on. Now, I should say that before I do this, let's chat for a second. I think that the eating bug thing is itself sensationalist and it keeps us off of important policy issues, such as Supreme Court appointments.
You know, Donald Trump had a great conversation with Obama and he can make a grand gesture like, say, "You know what, I'm representing all the people. I'm going to show everyone who I am and what I'm made of. And I'm going to name Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court." So there are things that can happen to bring the country together. But I think the bug thing is not one of them, OK? So I just wanted to point that out. Now, Mike, you really want me to do this?
SMERCONISH: I kind of would. You know, let's like put it to bed once and for all.
WANG: Sure. OK. So, like John the Baptist in the wilderness, he ate locusts and honey. And so I regard myself as being in the wilderness a little bit because after all, I was wrong. A lot of people were wrong, but nobody else made the promise I did. And I'm hoping that we can get back to data and thinking thoughtfully about policy and issues, and having said that, and saying good morning to everyone out there on both sides, see this. Here it goes. OK?
SMERCONISH: You're a man of your word, Dr. Wang. I appreciate -- how was it, by the way?
WANG: Kind of mostly honeyish, a little nutty, but you know, it's good enough for a snake.
SMERCONISH: You delivered, OK? You're a man of your word. I appreciate it. It was sensationalistic but it was worth it.
SMERCONISH: Thank you for that. Dr. Sam Wang from the Princeton Election Consortium. Now, someone who could explain how the experts missed this in such a big way, Andrew Gelman is a Statistics and Political Science Professor at Columbia University. And on this very program last month, he explained that the margin of error and even the late campaign polls is often so wide that they're not reliable. Welcome back, Dr. Gelman, I appreciate your being here. How do you assess what we just saw on Tuesday?
ANDREW GELMAN, STATISTICS AND POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Four years ago, Barack Obama got 52 percent of the vote and Mitt Romney got 48 percent of the vote. Hillary Clinton from the polls was predicted to get 52 percent of the two-party vote herself and she only got half.
So, she did two percentage points worse than Obama did and she did two percentage points worse than were predicted by the polls. And I think part of it is that people kind of forgot that the 2012 election was so close that actually Obama only got 52 percent of the vote. We think about President Obama, Mitt Romney as a failure, he lost the election, but it was really close.
[09:40:08] This election, again, was forecast to be really close but people weren't used to that. I think a lot of people who had been following polls, who didn't have a lot of experience in the area, had a sort of naive view because the last few elections, the polls happened to have been pretty close at the national election.
But let me give you a quote. My colleagues wrote this in "The New York Times" on October 6th. "This November, we would not at all be surprised to see Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump beat the state by state polling averages by about two percentage points. We just don't know which one would do it. And that was based on our historical and analysis." They get it wrong sometimes.
SMERCONISH: Well, so, from that same summation of your work, I too want to quote and I want to put it up on the screen because I thought this was remarkable. "We examined" this is part of your research, "4,221 late campaign polls, every public poll we could find, for 608 state-level presidential, Senate and governor's races between 1998 and 2014. Comparing those poll results with actual electoral results, we find the historical margin of error is plus or minus six to seven points, yes, that's an error range of 12 to 14, not the typically reported six or seven." Expand on that please.
GELMAN: Well, polls can be wrong for two reasons. We say sampling error and non-sampling error. The sampling error is because you're sampling a finite number of people. It's like drawing balls from the urn. You won't see the entire population. That gives you the margin of error you'll see in the newspaper.
Non-sampling error is because you're not getting the right people or you're adjusting to the wrong population. And in this particular case, the 2016 election, I think a lot of Trump's supporters were not responding to polls. And the turnout wasn't the way it was expected. So people were adjusting to a 2008, 2012 level turnout and as you might have heard, the Democratic turnout was down a lot in 2016. And it may have been a mistake to adjust to 2012 and 2008, given that in 2008 and 2012, there was this guy running for president you might have heard of, very inspirational figure, transformative, Barack Obama. We didn't have that this time. So I think that may have been a mistake right there.
SMERCONISH: Andrew Gelman, thank you so much for being here with your expertise. We appreciate it.
SMERCONISH: Another tweet, "Smerconish Michael, all you talking heads did such a poor job. I suggest strongly you look for other employment. Pathetic to watch."
Hey, Damon Steele, I never thought he'd run, much less win. I acknowledge that. I've acknowledged it all along.
Still ahead, meet the man who delivered Donald Trump the key battleground state of Pennsylvania by 65,000 votes. David Urban is in the on-deck circle. And I thought we might be doing another autopsy on the GOP this week, instead it's the Democratic Party in disarray. And Thomas Frank, the man who kept saying, "Listen, Liberal," turns out to have been right. We'll dissect the remains.
[09:47:13] SMERCONISH: The tweets continue to roll in @smerconish. "Dr. Wang eating a bug makes him earn my res" -- yeah, he is a man of his word. He's the only one who ate a bug, even though a lot of others were wrong, no doubt.
The key to Donald Trump's unlikely victory, the crucial swing states that had gone for Obama in 2012, including my home state of Pennsylvania. As I had said here, the difference was not going to be in the Philly burbs that everybody scrutinized but the more working class and rural counties of the remainder of the state. And the man who cracked the code is David Urban, Senior Advisor to the Trump Campaign. He ran the Pennsylvania effort. So David, what was the key?
DAVID URBAN, PENNSYLVANIA SENIOR ADVISOR, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Michael, thanks for having me this morning. The key was running a big total in the rest of the state. You know, we were -- we knew it was going to happen in the Philly suburbs and we worked hard to get Mr. Trump, President-elect Trump, out to the rest of the state, Erie, Pittsburgh, Scranton, the other media markets around the state. We knew what message it would resonate.
SMERCONISH: David, on any other election day, the margin that she did come out of Philadelphia and the Philly burbs with would have been enough. But it wasn't on this day because you brought out people who frankly haven't been all that active participants in the past.
URBAN: You're correct, Michael. Secretary Clinton's numbers out of the Philly suburbs or Philadelphia in the suburbs were very strong. Our numbers were just stronger. We had an incredible ground game, great relationships with the Pennsylvania party, the Republican Party nationally. We were able to get out the vote and all across the commonwealth. We simply outperformed her.
SMERCONISH: Hey, David, I remember this is a role you used to play for Arlin Specter among others and as far as I know, you've never lost an election. What was it like to work for Mr. Trump? Tell me about him as the candidate for whom you were working.
URBAN: President-elect Trump is an incredibly energetic campaigner. Every time he came to the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, wanted to know when he was coming back next, very granular in his knowledge of the commonwealth, wanted to know why we were campaigning in a certain location that week and where we would be headed the next week, a very energetic, knowledgeable man and I expect him to be a great president.
SMERCONISH: We're all talking about the data, you know, in the abstract sense. Is there a voter or two that David Urban thinks of when you think of the Pennsylvania victory? And if so, who is she or he?
URBAN: Sure, Michael. I like to think of my next-door neighbor growing up in Western Pennsylvania, who I introduced to Mr. Trump at a rally, Mrs. Virginia Longski (ph). She told Mr. Trump that she had been a Republican -- excuse me, she had been a Democrat her entire life, 81 years, and this is the first election that she...
[09:50:13] SMERCONISH: I think we lost David. We lost David as he was explaining that it was his next-door neighbor in Western Pennsylvania that was the epitome of the Trump constituency that propelled him to victory. Anyway, congratulations, David Urban, it was an unexpected and big victory.
For the Democratic side, what the hell happened? Those were Thomas Franks' words in an article for The Guardian, "The woman we were constantly assured was the best qualified candidate of all time has lost to the least qualified of all time". He's the author of "Listen, Liberal", I think that's how you're supposed to say it, and of course, "What's the Matter with Kansas?" Thomas Frank, thank you so much for being here. What went wrong?
THOMAS FRANK, AUTHOR, "LISTEN, LIBERAL": Hey, Michael. What went wrong? Clintonism is what went wrong. This is the philosophy of Clintonism going back to the 1990s is that people like working class voters have nowhere else to go. Do you remember this? That was the -- what they used to say when they got NAFTA passed in 1993. Well, Michael, as I said many, many, many times this year, they found somewhere else to go.
SMERCONISH: Did they vote -- I mean, I remember the whole premise of "What's the Matter with Kansas?" Your argument is that voters vote against their own economic interest. I assume Thomas Frank is going to say a whole host of folks just voted against their economic interest on Tuesday.
FRANK: Well, I think, to some degree, yeah, but the politics has changed quite a bit since then. The main point of "What's the Matter with Kansas?" was I mean the -- just that what we're seeing play out right before our eyes that working class people are transitioning from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. It's been going on for decades and here it is. And the Democrats have been utterly blind to this.
They dismiss it. They won't talk about it. They brush it off their -- right now, in Washington, coming up with all sorts of different ways to brush it off until they don't have to reach out to these people. They can win without these people. They don't have to take their issues into, you know, into consideration. And they lose and they lose and they lose and they lose.
SMERCONISH: So you look at that Democratic bench, which candidly, to me, looks a little thin at the national level. Who do you see as the champion for where this now goes?
FRANK: There -- look, there are some good Democrats, still. I like Elizabeth Warren. I like Sherrod Brown. There's a lot of good Democrats out there. I mean good from my point of view. But I want to point out two things. First of all is that we have to get past the liberalism that I described in "Listen, Liberal". I think it's kind of liberalism of the rich, OK? Martha's Vineyard liberalism, this has to go. We have to move away from it. And -- what was the other thing I was going to ...
FRANK: You know what I want to say? I fear what Donald Trump is going to do to this country, but there is one very bright side to all of this. And you know what it is? This man just destroyed the establishment wing of both parties. He just ended two political dynasties, the Bushes and the Clintons. He showed us that anything is possible in American politics. And that is a wonderful thing.
SMERCONISH: If they deliver on the jobs, those voters are not returning to the Democratic fold, you'd agree on that?
FRANK: I think that's -- you might be right about that, yeah.
SMERCONISH: I mean, it's all about -- yeah, it is the economy. It's certainly not -- I would argue. It was certainly not a campaign driven by social issues, not this cycle.
FRANK: Not this time, no, not this time around. This is -- but look this be -- when I wrote "What's the Matter with Kansas?" that was before the great recession. That changed everything, you know. The -- look, had -- my argument is that had Obama really delivered getting tough with "Wall Street," changing the way, you know, the way the world works for middle class people. Have he, you, you know, done anything for middle class people? We'd be looking at a different situation today.
And when he came into office, a lot of people thought he was going to be a very different kind of Democrat. It didn't work out that way. But can I tell you something, Michael? I'm speaking to you from Kansas City, Missouri, right now. I spent the last couple days out in Columbia and Missouri. And Missouri, like Pennsylvania, like many of these states. Democrats won the two big cities in the college town and they lost everything else, OK?
And you look at the rural counties out there in Missouri and it is like a neutron bomb went off in these places. The buildings are still standing, all the businesses are gone, everything is boarded up, the people are gone. It's depopulating, you know, the family farms are dead.
These people have been watching their way of life disintegrate for decades and they had hope in Barack Obama and now they've got nothing but desperation. And at least Donald Trump, you know, when somebody comes out there and says, "Make America great again," that sounds pretty good to these people. These people are desperate.
SMERCONISH: We knew we'd be conducting an autopsy. We just didn't think that it would be on this particular cadaver. Thomas Frank, thank you for being here.
[09:55:03] FRANK: Sure thing, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Still to come, your best and worst tweets, man oh man, are they coming in fast and furious. "Who the hell is listening to this un-American entertainer named the Smerconish? The guy didn't even vote for President of the United States".
Whoa, whoa, whoa, put that camera back on me. Hold on. Of course, I voted for President of the United States. What I said at the outset is I didn't vote for either of them. I've never missed an election since I turned 18. I'm 54. Never one and I didn't leave my ballot empty, OK? We'll be back in a moment.
SMERCONISH: Keep tweeting me @smerconish. Lets roll through, "Let's just ignore a campaign of hate, misogyny, racism. Words and actions don't matter to you". I'm not ignoring it. I'm not going to forget, but I'm giving the man a blank slate moving forward and I'll evaluate him based on his conduct.
"Haven't been the biggest fan of yours this year. Your grace this morning was commendable. We need to heal." That's what I'm saying. Let's all work together the way President Obama and Secretary Clinton said we need to.
[10:00:10] Give me another one. "Thanks for the bug. At least there's one Democrat who doesn't lie." I don't know that Dr. Wong is a Democrat, but he's a man of his word. Give me another one. Keep them moving here. "Smerconish, I think you should run for president in four years. Any chance" No. Zero chance.
I'm out of time, unfortunately. Thank you so much. Tweet me @Smerconish. I'll see you next weekend.