Yes, Trump won the election, but also did something else no one predicted: His election had coattails. Amid near-unanimous predictions that Republicans would at least lose the Senate and possibly the House, both remain in Republican control and losses were far fewer than expected.
Looking at the numbers from the final IBD/TIPP Presidential Tracking Poll and from exit polls taken right after the election, just as Reagan, Trump won substantial majorities among white voters, male voters, married voters, those with less than a college education, self-described Christian voters. But he also exceeded expectations among minorities and union members.
"These are, historically, the 'Reagan Democrats,' who gave Ronald Reagan a similarly stunning election result in 1980, and a massive landslide re-election in 1984," noted former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.
He's right. Trump proved he had crossover appeal. According to exit polls posted by CNN, Trump won 9% of the Democratic vote, while Hillary Clinton won just 7% of Republicans — even though pundits were predicting a mass exodus of GOP "never Trump" voters to Hillary. It didn't happen.
But that didn't tell the whole tale. Because many of the working-class, religious voters that voted for Reagan in 1980 and 1984 have since migrated away from the Democratic Party. Some have found a home in the GOP. But a huge number are now independents, people who tend to be socially liberal but fiscally and economically conservative. Trump won them overwhelmingly, the CNN exit data show: Trump 48%, Clinton 42%.
Many were surprised on election night when Trump managed to breach the so-called "Blue Wall" of Democratic Party-ruled states in the Midwest. But our final IBD/TIPP Poll should have been a tip-off: It showed Trump with a huge 48% to 38% lead in the Midwest. The Washington Post notes that of the 700 counties that voted twice for Obama, a third flipped to Trump this time — many of them in the Midwest. So his wins in Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio and even Pennsylvania perhaps shouldn't have been so surprising. And despite tales of southern states going blue, Trump swept those as well.
The media echo chamber on both coasts ignored these trends. They thought that the massive majorities for any Democrat that existed in the major cities and on both coasts would be enough to carry this election and future ones — no matter how unpopular the candidate. They fooled themselves and their readers, too. Somewhere, Ronald Reagan is having a hearty laugh.