The US is not Hungary

David Runciman on the Midterms

Many political scientists were utterly confounded when Trump won the presidency in 2016. A large number had staked their professional reputations on confident predictions that Hillary Clinton would brush him aside. But when the result came in those same political scientists were kicking themselves for not having seen it coming. What happened turned out to fit pretty well with the outcome their models might have predicted. It was always going to be hard for an insider to succeed at the end of a two-term Democratic administration. The Electoral College gave certain in-built advantages to a Republican who was able to pick up votes in the right places. The state of the economy – neither hot nor cold but somewhere in between – meant it was going be close. Trump did about as well as a regular Republican candidate could be expected to do. What was astonishing – and what most political scientists failed to consider – was that Trump in all his outrageousness might perform just like a regular Republican candidate.

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