In case you missed it, on Nov. 7, The Huffington Post announced that Hillary Clinton had a 98.2 percent chance of winning the presidency. The site predicted the Democratic nominee would claim 323 Electoral College votes, to Donald Trump’s 215.
As you might imagine, it was not a pretty picture for senior polling editor Natalie Jackson, whose byline adorned that Nov. 7 piece, once 2016 Electoral College results were conclusively tallied. She acknowledges in her Nov. 10 Mea Culpa that many asked for her to be fired. She also offers this head-scratching defense:
The model structure wasn’t the problem. The problem was that the data going into the model turned out to be wrong in several key places.
The Huffington Post’s declaration that Trump had “essentially no path to an Electoral College victory” is one of a number of 2016 predictions right up there with the famous 1948 Chicago Daily Tribune headline “Dewey Defeats Truman.” The work of Jackson and colleague Ariel Edwards-Levy, the site’s polling director, comes up in an op-ed this weekend in the Los Angeles Times by Michael Massing.
Massing connects the failure of most U.S. media to properly gauge the political mood of the nation to earlier coverage assignments involving the 2008 U.S. financial crisis and 2003 Iraq War. He also notes a worrisome wrinkle to some of the post-election media Mea Culpas he took in on TV:
What most struck me about these Mea Culpa segments was how many featured members of the elite interviewing other members of the elite about the mood in middle America. On Morning Joe, for instance, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski discussed the state of the Upper Midwest with such Acela-corridor regulars as Mike Barnicle, Michael Steele, John Podhoretz of the New York Post and Sam Stein of The Huffington Post.
“Your tweets during the campaign were priceless,” Brzezinski told Stein. “I didn’t even know you followed me,” said Stein, brightening. Brzezinski did not ask him about the Huffington Post’s presidential forecast.
P.S. The Daily News front page pictured above is from April 27, 2011.
Previously on FishbowlNY:
HuffPost Drops Editor’s Note About Trump