When I went to bed at 1:43 a.m. on election night, I was confident that President Donald J. Trump would be reelected, albeit by a slim margin. But when I woke up on Nov. 4, I found a voicemail from my mom, saying, “It looks like Trump isn’t going to win.”
Overnight, states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and even Nevada shifted in favor of former Vice President Joe Biden by a slight majority.
But this flip-flop between red and blue might continue for another few days. Maybe weeks.
As I watched the results come state-by-state after the polls had closed on Tuesday night, it looked like the “blue wave” that Democrats promised themselves would not come to pass. The president led in most swing states, the senate was tied, and the house had Democrats winning.
A lot of the national conversation in the past 48 hours has focused on the fact that pollsters who told Americans this was no close race were overly confident.
As of a week ago, an ABC News-Washington Post poll placed Biden 17+ points ahead of Trump in the state of Wisconsin. Other polls showed Biden leading in Florida and Texas, both of which remained deep red, with Biden actually turning less districts blue than Hillary Clinton did in 2016.
Just like in 2016, voters are tired of having the media disenfranchise their enthusiasm and representation for a candidate, even if it’s the controversial Donald Trump. The 2016 election results were such a shock to the nation because a silent majority spoke with their vote that they were fed up with coastal elites telling them what they wanted and what they believed.
The media seems to have not learned that polls do not represent the breadth of the American people. They have underestimated Americans all over again, as the next president stands in the balances between Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and a few others.
It was the unseen enthusiasm at rallies and anecdotal reporting from journalists like Salena Zito that caught what was happening in these swing states. Not the pollsters making calls and taking names.
As the next few days show the spread between Trump and Biden by only a few thousand or hundred-thousand votes, the pollsters that said this was a safe win for Biden ought to recognize how many Americans they overlooked.
For instance, the record turnout in Latino voters in Florida, with Trump winning nearly half of the Latino vote, made the state a solid victory for him on Tuesday evening.
Even U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D‑New York, admitted this as she took her frustration to Twitter, saying, “I won’t comment much on tonight’s results as they are evolving and ongoing, but I will say we’ve been sounding the alarm about Dem vulnerabilities w/ Latinos for a long, long time. There is a strategy and a path, but the necessary effort simply hasn’t been put in.”
While Americans stand by for election results, pollsters need to look at their work and remember not to underestimate those who remain quiet the next time around.
Isabella Redjai is a senior George Washington Fellow studying political economy.