Must-Read: As I see it, we had six system failures in the past election--none of which I was greatly concerned about last July. Silly me:

  1. The electoral college, which always has a 10% failure rate, and failed again.
  2. The Republican establishment continued its pattern that it had established in mid-2015--of backing Trump enthusiastically in public while deploring him and his supporters in private, hoping that somebody else would solve the problem.
  3. A Washington-New York press corps that decided that what the fall campaign really needed was a thumb on the scale against Hillary Rodham Clinton--who needed to be taken down a peg--and conversely extremely light scrutiny on any one of Trump's flaws.
  4. A tabloid-Fox-cable press corps that thought enthusiastic coverage of Trump was good business.
  5. Putin.
  6. Comey.

All six of those had to break for Trump for him to win the electoral college, and he still lost the popular vote by 3 million. If I had been thinking last July, I would have thought that each of these (well, not (2)) was a 50-50 shot:

Alan S. Blinder: The American Public Against Trump: "One presidential candidate won nearly three million more votes than her opponent...

...who, with a big assist from a hostile foreign power, was nonetheless declared the winner. Anywhere else on earth, such an event would be called a coup d’état. Here in the US, we call it the Electoral College.... After the election had cast the usual victor’s glow on Donald Trump... only 37% of Americans thought Trump was well-qualified... just 31% deemed him moral, and a mere 26% viewed him as a good role model. On the other hand, 62% thought he had poor judgment and 65% considered him reckless. And this man won?...

As an economist, I’ll leave aside Trump’s positively frightening foreign-policy views and concentrate on the economic issues.... He’s on the wrong side of almost every one.... Climate change.... Labor standards.... Health care.... Tax cuts.... In fact, Trump’s position is more popular than its polar opposite on only one economic issue: globalization. And on that one issue, Trump’s embrace of trade protection, hostility toward immigration, and prevention of outsourcing to foreign countries is bad news for the entire world. Nowadays, a narrow majority of Americans seems to side with Trump, rather than with traditional Republican internationalism, on these issues....

So how did the candidate who is personally disrespected by most Americans, and who takes the unpopular side on most issues, win the election? One plausible answer, offered by Clinton and many others, focuses on the role of Russian cyber operations and FBI Director James Comey’s unconscionable “announcement” (of what amounted to nothing) just days before the vote. Putin got what he wanted. Comey? I don’t know.