How Did Trump Win? The FBI and the Russians.

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Sam Wang has crunched the data from polls released in October to judge the effect of FBI Director James Comey’s letter on the election:

From opinion data alone, it is possible to estimate when a change occurred. This can test between alternative explanations, which include not only the Comey letter (October 28th) but preceding events such as the announcement of a hike in Affordable Care Act premiums (October 24th).

I calculated a day-by-day margin using polling data from the Huffington Post…After the Affordable Care Act premium hike announcement, opinion did not move for days…However, the big change does coincide well with the release of the Comey letter. Opinion swung toward Trump by 4 percentage points, and about half of this was a lasting change.

Naturally there’s a chart to go along with this. Here it is:

Hillary Clinton lost 4 points when the letter was released. She eventually gained back some of that, but it looks like 2 points were permanent. This jibes well with Nate Silver’s estimate that the Comey letter cost Clinton 2 points.

It is traditional at this point to acknowledge that lots of things affected the election: bad campaign strategy, rural blue-collar whites, etc. This is what you’ll read about in all the post-election thumbsuckers, but this kind of stuff happens to all campaigns. The Trump campaign certainly made lots of mistakes too, though no one talks about them anymore. The difference here is that things like the Comey letter don’t happen to all campaigns. This was an egregious intervention in the campaign by the director of the FBI, who was motivated at least partly by his fear of a rogue group of agents who were dedicated to Clinton’s defeat.

This is decidedly not normal. Comey knew exactly what he was doing. He was warned that it would be an unprecedented act of interference in an election. But he went ahead anyway, and went ahead in a manner perfectly calculated to do the maximum damage. The press played along and the rest is history.

Without Comey’s letter, Clinton likely would have won the popular vote by 4 points and the Electoral College by 300 votes or more. Who knows about the Senate? Maybe Democrats would have won that too. Eliminate the Russian ratfucking and Clinton would have won in a landslide. Instead, a game show host is about to be sworn in as president of the United States and everyone is convinced that the Democratic Party is practically on its last legs.

This. Is. Not. Normal.

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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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