And that’s why the problem that surfaced on Tuesday night was much bigger than polling. It was clear that something was fundamentally broken in journalism, which has been unable to keep up with the anti-establishment mood that is turning the world upside down.
Politics is not just about numbers; data can’t always capture the human condition that is the blood of American politics. And it is not the sole function of political reporting to tell you who will win or who will lose. But that question — the horse race — has too often shadowed everything else, and inevitably colors other reporting, too.
You have to wonder how different the coverage might have been had the polls, and the data crunching, not forecast an almost certain Clinton victory. Perhaps there would have been a deeper exploration of the forces that were propelling Mr. Trump toward victory, given that so much of his behavior would have torpedoed any candidate who came before him.
Maybe we’d know a lot more about how Mr. Trump’s plan to build a wall along the southern border would fare in Congress, or what his proposal to make it easier to sue journalists might actually look like. How about his plan to block people from countries with links to terrorism?