Donald Trump Is the Next President, and His Data Team Saw It Coming

Cambridge Analytica saw the race tightening days prior to polling.

Getty Images / Mark Wilson

Donald Trump is officially the President-Elect of the United States. It’s been a long and painful campaign, with many ups and downs, but Trump’s victory is possibly one of the most unexpected twists in an eventful election. The New York Times’s Upshot gave Hillary Clinton a 79 percent chance of winning, while the more conservative FiveThirtyEight gave her a 70 percent chance of winning.

Trump’s team knew he could do it. Cambridge Analytica, the data team powering his campaign, had charted out his way forward weeks prior to the election. The models used predicted most of the states correctly. The team’s internal data found the race tightening in the crucial final days, and absentee ballots failed to materialize the coalition Clinton needed for victory.

“The general political assumption would tell you that an increase in old votes is good, a decrease in African-American votes is good, an increase in Hispanic vote is probably troublesome,” Matt Oczkowski, director of products at Cambridge Analytica, said in a story published Wednesday. “We came to realize the way folks were polling in terms of their samples and who they consider likely voters, it’s probably been incorrect.”

“The rural vote is the story tonight,” Oczkowski said. “The amount of disenfranchised voters who came out to vote in rural America has been significant.”

Markets have reacted to the news of Trump’s potential victory with fear. The futures market, where traders speculate on what a commodity will be worth in the future, sharply nosedived as the first results came in. It’s a sign that markets were unsure of who the future president would be, making speculation on the future price of oil, for example, all the more difficult.

Americans fearful of what a Trump presidency will mean for them have been flocking to Canada’s immigration website, only to have it crash under the intense pressure. Although moving to Canada may be harder than many Americans assume, it didn’t stop a lot of people from trying.

It’ll be a while before the dust settles on an unexpected election result. A narrow Trump victory in the electoral college was one of three possible outcomes predicted by FiveThirtyEight, in line with Cambridge Analytica’s data, but the public may expect firmer answers about why the media largely considered a Clinton victory a foregone conclusion.

Related Tags