Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America have already beat up on the media in these end-of-year awards, but this installment is focused exclusively on the media. Today we offer our choices for most over-reported and under-reported stories of the year and our personal selections for story of the year.
Archives for December 2016
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are ready to reveal their choices for Best Idea, Worst Idea, and Boldest Tactic of 2016.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America unveil their year-end awards in three more prestigious categories: Worst Scandal, Best Political Theater, and Worst Political Theater of 2016.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America continue their year-end awards. Today, they reflect on the political figures they were most sad to see pass away in 2016. They also discuss their rising political stars and reach an easy consensus on the political figure they are most eager to see fade into oblivion.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America begin their annual year-end awards presentations. Today they hand out their individual choices for most underrated, overrated, and honest political figures.
2016 witnessed the passings of legends in all walks of life. And entertainment was certainly no exception. From television to music, famous performers took their final bows this year. For the next few minutes, we’ll take a look back, beginning on the big screen.
Gene Wilder worked often with Mel Brooks and the combination led to some of cinema’s greatest comedies. Known for ‘Blazing Saddles’ and ‘Young Frankenstein.” Also famous separately for “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” among many other roles, Gene Wilder died in August. He was 83.
George Kennedy usually found himself in dramatic roles, whether for ‘Cool Hand Luke,’ ‘The Dirty Dozen,’ ‘Airport,’ or ‘The Eiger Sanction. But he could also make a comedic turn as he did in three “Naked Gun” films. Kennedy died in February. He was 91.
Alan Rickman could play virtually any character, but he was best as a deliciously evil villain, such as in the action classic ‘Die Hard.’ Also known for his work in the ‘Harry Potter’ movies and as the sheriff of Nottingham in ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,’ Rickman died of cancer in January. He was 69.
Anton Yelchin was a young actor with a world of promise ahead of him. Best known for playing Chekov in the recent ‘Star Trek’ reboots, Yelchin was tragically killed when his vehicle crushed him as he was getting his mail. Yelchin was just 27.
Charmian Carr will forever be sixteen going on seventeen. Immortalized as the eldest Von Trapp daughter, Liesl, in ‘The Sound of Music,’ Carr died in September at age 73.
One of the most inspiring aspects of the ‘Rocky’ series is the passion shown by actor Tony Burton whether he’s in the corner for Rocky or archrival Apollo Creed. Burton died in February. He was 78.
And Zsa Zsa Gabor died in December. One of three famous Gabor sisters, the Hungarian-born actress best known for ‘Moulin Rouge’ later became known for her nine marriages and playing herself dozens of times. Gabor died at age 99 after many years of poor health.
In television, one of America’s most beloved TV moms died this year. Florence Henderson will always be known as Carol Brady – the lovely lady bringing up three very lovely girls – on ‘The Brady Bunch.’ Henderson died in November. She was 82.
A more recent TV mom who left us this year was Doris Roberts, immortalized for her depiction of Marie Barone – the hovering and opinionated mother and mother-in-law on “Everybody Loves Raymond.’ Roberts was 90.
Patty Duke began as a star on Broadway and the big screen with her portrayal of Helen Keller in ‘The Miracle Worker.’ She then played identical cousins on ‘The Patty Duke’ show. Active in show business for decades to follow, Duke was 60 when she died in March.
Alan Young was famous for talking to a horse – and even more impressively the horse talked back. Young was the star of ‘Mr. Ed.’ He was 96 when he died in May.
Hugh O’Brian served our nation in World War II and cleaned up the streets of Dodge City in ‘The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp.’ Inspired by Albert Schweitzer, O’Brian later devoted himself to helping young people develop into leadership roles through the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program. O’Brian was 91.
Robert Vaughn became a household name as Napoleon Solo, also known as ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ Vaughn was also acclaimed for his work on the silver screen in classics like ‘The Magnificent Seven’ and ‘Bridge at Remagen.’ Vaughn died just shy of his 84th birthday in November.
By the time the 1970s rolled around, Americans were already nostalgic for the ‘50s. ‘Happy Days’ captured the era perfectly, and the smash hit series was the work of director Garry Marshall. Also the brains behind successful spinoffs like ‘Laverne and Shirley’ and ‘Mork and Mindy,’ Garry Marshall was 81.
‘One Day at a Time’ was a CBS sitcom about a single mom raising two daughters. The only regular male character was also the comic relief found in apartment superintendent Schneider. Schneider was the work of actor Pat Harrington, who died of Alzheimer’s disease in January. He was 86.
‘Alice’ was seen on the same night as ‘One Day at a Time’ and also focused on the working class. Actress Beth Howland was always good for a laugh as the spacy but endearing Vera. Howland was 74.
Another 70s hit was the police comedy ‘Barney Miller.’ The ensemble cast of detectives included Ron Glass as Harris. Harris died in November. He was 71.
Joining ‘Barney Miller’ as a hit ABC comedy was ‘Benson,’ as viewers followed the exploits inside the governor’s mansion of a fictional administration. Gov. Gene Gatling was well-intentioned but not very sharp. Gatling was portrayed by actor James Noble. Noble died in March at age 94.
The 1980s were full of memorable TV dads. Alan Thicke was one of the most recognizable. Thicke’s portrayal of Dr. Jason Seaver on ‘Growing Pains’ helped make the show a smash hit. Known in later years as the father of singer Robin Thicke, Alan Thicke was 69 when he suffered a heart attack while playing hockey and later dying at the hospital. Thicke was 69.
George Gaynes is known to fans of the 80s for two roles, first as Commandant Eric Lassard in the ‘Police Academy’ movies and later as adoptive dad Henry Warnimont on ‘Punky Brewster.’ George Gaynes was 98 when he died in February
Garry Shandling was a stellar stand-up comedian who eventually became a frequent guest host for Johnny Carson. In the late 1980s, Shandling starred in the aptly titled ‘It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.’ In the ‘90s, Shandling starred as Larry Sanders on the acclaimed HBO series, ‘The Larry Sanders Show.’ Shandling died suddenly in March. He was 66.
‘Law and Order’ was a staple of prime time television for nearly 20 years. For more than half that time, the role of curmudgeonly, deal-making district attorney Adam Schiff was the work of actor Steven Hill. Hill was 94.
In music, country music lost one of its greatest legends. Merle Haggard was one of the original outlaws and had lived a rough life before he pursued and achieved stardom. One of the great writers in Opry history, Haggard was 79.
Holly Dunn scored multiple hits during her country music career. Known for ‘Daddy’s Hands’ and ‘you Really Had Me Going,’ Dunn was 59.
Music had never seen anything quite like David Bowie in terms of his sound or his look. Known best for classic songs like ‘Under Pressure,’ Bowie broke every conventional mold and always found a huge audience. Bowie died in January. He was 69.
In April, the music world was stunned by the unexpected death of Prince. A guitar whiz and the man behind ‘Purple Rain,’ ‘Little Red Corvette,’ ‘When Doves Cry,’ ‘1999’ and so many other hits, Prince died of a drug overdose at his Minnesota home. He was 57.
There was no bigger act in the late 70s than the Eagles, and Glen Frey was one of the biggest reasons for the massive success. Frey died in January. Frey was 67.
Paul Kantner was a founding member of Jefferson Airplane, which later transformed into Jefferson Starship. Also playing lead guitar for the band, Kantner was 74 when he died in January.
George Martin was known as the fifth Beatle. The powerhouse producer helped launch the Fab Four from Liverpool to the most famous music act in the world. Martin was 90.
Emerson, Lake and Palmer was a unique group in the 70s, finding a way to translate classical music into rock and roll. Both Keith Emerson and Greg Lake died this year. Emerson was 71. Lake was 69.
Just about everyone has heard Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ in some form. Cohen died in November at age 82.
George Beverly Shea sang the solos at the Billy Graham Crusades but some of the largest choirs ever assembled at those gatherings were directed by Cliff Barrows. Barrows served as music director for the crusades for many decades. He was 93.
2016 was an unforgettable year for many reasons. In addition to an historic presidential race and a year full of significant national and international events, we also pause to remember those who left us this year – from the arenas of politics and sports to television, film and music. And we begin with politics…
Nancy Reagan spent 16 years as a first lady, eight in California and eight in the White House while her husband served as governor and president. She was known as Nancy Davis in Hollywood. When her name mistakenly appeared on a list of communist sympathizers in Hollywood, she went to Screen Actors Guild President Ronald Reagan for help. He asked her to dinner and the rest is history. Known best for her “Just Say No” campaign against the scourge of drugs in the 1980s, Mrs. Reagan also earned worldwide admiration for her tireless care of her husband during his decade-long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Nancy Reagan was 94 when she died in March.
One of President Reagan’s longest lasting legacies was his nomination of Justice Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court. For nearly 29 years, Scalia was the most visible conservative on the court, although he referred to himself as a textualist. Scalia was adored on the right and reviled by the left, but was well-respected in the legal community for his incisive questioning and strongly written decisions. Scalia died while on vacation in February. He was 79.
In the early years of the space race, there was no greater American hero than John Glenn. The heroic Marine Corps fighter pilot served in World War II and Korea. Soon after he became one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts. In 1962, Glenn achieved legend status when he became the first American to orbit the earth. In 1974, Glenn won the first of four terms to the U.S. Senate from Ohio. In 1984, he sought a promotion to president, but never gathered much steam towards the Democratic nomination. John Glenn died in December at the age of 95.
Glenn’s trip to space came the same year the U.S. and the Soviet Union nearly fought a nuclear war as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Fidel Castro won his Cuban revolution in 1959 and quickly embraced communism and the USSR. Instead of freeing his people as promised, Castro repressed them – jailing tens of thousands, executing others and stifling freedoms while thumbing his nose at the U.S. Castro, who handed over presidential duties to his brother a decade ago, died in November. He was 90.
Phyllis Schalfly never held elective office, but few individuals have had a greater impact on American politics in the past 50 years. Schalfly burst onto the scene during the 1964 campaign with her book, ‘A Choice Not An Echo,’ which demanded a strong conservative alternative to business as usual in the Republican Party. For her next act, Schlafly singlehandedly led the effort defeat the Equal Rights Amendment, which would she said would have enshrined the worst of feminism in the Constitution. Ratification seemed like a foregone conclusion but Schlafly’s grassroots movement successfully lobbied enough states to stop the amendment in its tracks. Active until her final days, Schlafly died of cancer in September. She was 92.
One of the most famous liberal activists in the 1960s and 1970s was Tom Hayden. Known for his fierce opposition for the Vietnam War and for being a leading figure in the countercultural movement, Hayden was later married to Jane Fonda. Hayden died in October. He was 76.
No one spent more time as Attorney General of the United States than Janet Reno. Reno served all eight years of the Clinton administration and received the most attention for authorizing the raid against the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, in 1993 and for her role in returning six-year-old Elian Gonzalez to Cuba in the year 2000 after he washed ashore in Florida the year before. Reno was 78.
Two long-serving former senators died in 2016. Dale Bumpers served four terms as a Democrat from Arkansas. Just days after retirement in 1999, he returned to the Senate floor to plead with his colleagues not to remove President Clinton from office. Dale Bumpers was 90.
Bob Bennett was a three-term Republican from Utah. He died in May at age 82.
One of the most famous pieces of legislation signed in the early days of the Obama was the Sarbanes-Oxley bill, purported to put some restraints on Wall Street in the wake of the economic crisis. Ohio Republican Congressman Mike Oxley was one of the principal authors. Also a committee chairman earlier in his congressional tenure, Oxley was 71 when he died in January.
On the world stage, Israeli President Shimon Peres was the last active political figure in his nation whose service spanned the entire history of the modern state of Israel. Also serving twice as prime minister, Peres shared a Nobel Peace prize in 1994 for his efforts toward Middle East peace via the Oslo Accords. Shimon Peres died from a stroke in September. He was 93.
The man leading the United Nations when Peres was receiving the Nobel Peace Prize was Egyptian Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Later ousted at the behest of the United States after just one term as secretary-general, Boutros-Ghali died in February. He was 93.
The world’s longest-reigning monarch died this year. King Bhumibol ascended to the throne of Thailand in 1946 and stayed there for more than 70 years. He died in October at age 88.
Two colorful former mayors who had issues with the law also died this year. Buddy Cianci spent two different stretches as mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, totaling 21 years. However, criminal charges ended both terms. A racketeering conviction led to a four year prison term following his final stint in office.
North of the border, former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford became known for his battles with drugs and alcohol more than his work for the city. Ford died from cancer in March. He was 46.
Some of the most impactful writers also passed away this year. Elie Wiesel was a holocaust survivor who gripped the world with his account of the experience in the best-selling “Night.” Also a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Elie Wisesel was 87 when he died in July.
Harper Lee captivated the nation with “To Kill A Mockingbird,” which then turned into a blockbuster film starring Gregory Peck. Lee then vanished from the public eye until another book was published in her name shortly before her death. Harper Lee was 89.
W.P Kinsella’s work led millions of Americans to the “Field of Dreams.” Kinsella was 81.
Three prominent Christian writers died this year as well. Dr. Charles Ryrie was a decades-long biblical scholar and teacher. He died in February at age 90. Jerry Bridges was known for his challenging writings on holiness and godliness. He was 86. And Tim LaHaye became famous for his “Left Behind” series on the end times although he authored other scholarly works as well. LaHaye was 90.
We also lost some of the most well-known media figures in 2016. Morley Safer was one of the ’60 Minutes’ correspondents who was on the job for decades. Doing both hard news and soft features, Safer was 84 when he died in May – just one day after retiring.
John McLaughlin changed political television forever by holding spirited discussions with reporters of all political persuasions – and making stars out of the journalists in the process. The founder of ‘The McLaughlin Group’ held court for nearly 35 years and hosted the program right up to his death in August. McLaughlin was 89.
Gwen Ifill was an accomplished print reporter before heading to television at NBC News and later PBS. Ifill hosted two vice-presidential debates and served as co-host of ‘The Newshour’ on PBS. She died from cancer in November. She was 61.
She spent more time talking about Catholic doctrine than politics, but Mother Angelica was a very recognizable face to viewers of EWTN. A critical figure in the founding of the network, Angelica was 92.
Two famous faces in sports journalism died this year as well. John Saunders was a versatile studio host and game announcer for ESPN and ABC. Saunders died suddenly in August. He was 61.
Craig Sager was known for his outlandish wardrobe and for his three decades covering the NBA on the sidelines. His valiant battle against leukemia inspired millions. Sager died in December at the age of 65.
In sports, we lost the king of golf. Arnold Palmer led his armies down the fairways as he won seven major championships, including four green jackets at the Masters. But Palmer’s greatest achievement is making golf appealing to the masses through his infectious smile, personality and blue collar roots. Palmer died of heart failure in September. He was 87.
Mr. Hockey also left us in 2016. Gordie Howe was a gentle ambassador off the ice but threw lots of elbows on it. He also scored a lot of goals and set NHL records by the bushel in a career that spanned from the 1940s to the 1980s. Best known for his years with, Howe led Hockeytown to four Stanley Cups. Gordie Howe was 88.
Muhammad Ali said he was the greatest. And a lot of people agree. Born Cassius Clay, he won gold at the 1960 Summer Olympics and won his first heavyweight title in 1964. After surrendering his belt for refusing service in the Vietnam War, Ali was later part of epic fights with Joe Frazier and George Foreman. Known as much for his non-stop self-promotion as for his fighting, Ali was eventually a three-time champ. Muhammad Ali was 74 when he died in June.
In baseball, one of the great personalities over the years was Joe Garagiola. A childhood friend of Yogi Berra, Garagiola was a tremendous catcher in his own right. He won a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1946 and played for three other teams in his career. Later Garagiola announced baseball’s game of the week and was a regular part of NBC’s ‘Today” show. Joe Garagiola was 90.
Monte Irvin was a World War II veteran of the Battle of the Bulge and would soon be one of the first black players in Major League Baseball. Best known for his years with the New York Giants, Irvin was on the World Series-winning 1954 team, was a five-time all-star and was later inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973. Monte Irvin was 96.
Ralph Branca probably wished he was never famous. His moment in history came in 1951, when as a reliever for the Brooklyn Dodgers, he served up the pennant-winning home run to Bobby Thomson of the New York Giants. Branca was 90.
One of the brightest young pitchers of this generation was Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins. All of Major League Baseball was stunned by his sudden death in a late-night boating accident in September. Jose Fernandez was just 24 years old.
The rise in the prestige and popularity of women’s college basketball can largely be traced to the work of legendary Tennessee Lady Vols Coach Pat Summitt. Summitt took the job in Knoxville when women’s hoops was a mere afterthought. When she retired almost 40 years later, she had amassed eight national championships, seven national coach of the year awards and nearly 1,100 wins. Dementia cut her career short and took her life in June. Summitt was 64.
One of the brightest college stars on the men’s side in the 1980s was Dwayne “Pearl” Washington. He dazzled fans with his fast-break skills and scoring prowess as he put Syracuse basketball firmly on the map of perennial powers. His NBA career never matched the glory of his college years. Washington was 52 when he died in April.
Nate Thurmond wasn’t all that flashy. He was simply a beast in the low post and is known as one of the best defensive players and rebounders in NBA history. Playing most of his career with the San Francisco and then Golden State Warriors, Thurmond was 74 when he died of leukemia in July.
In football, the name Buddy Ryan is synonymous with dominant defense. Ryan was the architect of the vaunted 46 defense that propelled the Chicago Bears to one of the greatest seasons in NFL history and a blow-out win in Superbowl XX. Still the only assistant coach carried off the field after winning a title, Buddy Ryan was 85 when he died in June.
Dennis Green was a feisty and successful NFL coach. After a brief stint as head coach at Stanford, Green was hired by the Minnesota Vikings. There he promptly led the team to eight playoff appearances in nine seasons, including four division titles and two trips to the NFC championship game. Later find less success with the Arizona Cardinals, Green died in July. He was 67.
Dennis Byrd saw his playing career end in a moment of sudden tragedy and his life ended in a similar fashion. Byrd was a defensive end for the New York Jets when a collision with a teammate left him paralyzed. Later able to walk after much rehabilitation, Byrd died in a car accident in October. He was 50.
Lawrence Phillips was a great football talent who could not stay away from crime. Phillips was a key running back on national championship teams at Nebraska but never could find success in the NFL. Instead, he found his way to prison on assault and theft charges. Later accused of murdering his cellmate, Phillips allegedly hanged himself in his cell in January. He was 40.
Rashaan Salaam was a dominant back for Colorado at the same Phillips was tearing it up for Nebraska. Salaam rushed for more than 2,000 yards for the Buffaloes in 1994 and won the Heisman Trophy. After a promising rookie season in the NFL, injuries took their toll. Salaam took his life in December. He was 42.
Cultural conservatives are breathing a thankful sigh of relief over the defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2016 but their expectations are sky high for Donald Trump on issues ranging from abortion to religious freedom.
“I think that God gave us a second chance, gave us a reprieve and I think there’s a lot of people who believe we have got to take advantage of the first 100 days, the first year, the first two years of this new administration,” said Liberty Counsel Chairman Mathew Staver.
But he says conservative activists are taking nothing for granted.
“There is going to be high expectation. I don’t think there is going to be anybody sitting back and just assuming that everything will take place on its own. On the other hand, I don’t believe that Christian conservatives are going to be silent if there’s not action. In fact, the future of [Trump’s] presidency and many people in the conservative movement is hanging in the balance,” said Staver.
On Election Day, 81 percent of evangelicals voted for Trump. Staver says there are multiple reasons for that but he believes the future of the Supreme Court is at the top of the list.
“You had diametrically different positions. You had Hillary Clinton who was going to be an extenuation of Barack Obama and radicalize the Supreme Court. We would never have the same country, frankly, if we had a Hillary Clinton because we would lose the Supreme Court for a couple of decades,” said Staver.
Despite Trump’s lack of a socially conservative track record, Staver says the GOP candidate went above and beyond to show those voters he shared their interests.
“Never before has a Republican candidate given a list (of prospective justices) or said specifically and emphatically that they have to be pro-life. So there was a very distinct choice between these two,” said Staver.
He says the makeup of the Supreme Court will be impacted significantly by Trump’s win since he will get to nominate a successor for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. But Staver says future vacancies will also be critical.
“(Filling) a vacancy with Scalia just gives you the status quo of what we had before Scalia died, assuming you have the same kind of justice who respects the Constitution. But after Scalia, any justices that resign or for whatever reason are no longer on the bench, there you have the future of the Supreme Court hanging in the balance,” said Staver.
Staver says the composition of the Supreme Court will be critical as many hot-button cases make their way through the lower courts.
“In the courtroom, you’re going to have a lot more battles coming down the pike on this clash between homosexuality and religious freedom. You’re going to see more battles on the pro-life issue because what we’re seeing in the last five years is an explosion of pro-life legislation that ends up in the courtrooms,” said Staver.
But while the courts remain a fierce battleground, Staver is very optimistic about what a change in the White House will mean.
“In the political realm, the sky’s the limit at this point, both politically and in the administrative state. We now have opportunities we never even hardly dreamed about before – to literally reverse so much of what Obama did not only by executive order but Obamacare and many other regulations that promoted an amoral, immoral agenda,” said Staver.
“I’m sure you’ll have him dropping some of these lawsuits that Obama has pushed, like the Obamacare lawsuit that goes against the religious freedom of the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious ministries. I think you’ll also see a dropping of some of these other radical LGBT, sexual orientation, gender identity lawsuits that the Obama administration pushed forward,” said Staver.
Of all the opportunities for cultural conservatives, defunding and prosecuting Planned Parenthood are very high on the list. Staver says Republicans had the chance to defund the nation’s largest abortion provider from 2005-2007 but ended up “playing politics.” He expects it happen in 2017.
“They’ve already moved forward in the past to defund Planned Parenthood. They’ve made efforts in that direction to overturn Obamacare. The problem is they had a president that stopped that. Now we’ll have a president who will push that and sign those laws into effect,” said Staver.
Earlier in December, the House Select Investigative Panel for Infant Lives recommended some Planned Parenthood officials for prosecution in the wake of undercover videos depicting the dissecting of aborted babies and negotiations with researchers on a price for baby body parts.
Staver believes that will likely gather steam too.
“I think you could likely see some prosecution and more litigation against Planned Parenthood in 2017. I think their days of federal funding are going to come to an end and I think they are going to be on the receiving end of prosecutorial aggression by a number of entities, both state and federal as well. They deserve it,” said Staver.
One of America’s top political analysts says he and just about every other expert were wrong about the 2016 elections, noting Donald Trump is unlike any of his predecessors and his win promises to gut much of the Obama legacy.
Dr. Larry Sabato runs the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, where he teaches political science. He also heads up Sabato’s Crystal Ball, which predicts presidential, Senate, House, and gubernatorial races. In more than 40 years of tracking presidential races, has he ever seen a campaign like this one?
“Never, and no one in my field has,” said Sabato. “I’ve talked to a number of historians and people who focus on politics and political history. Everyone agrees that this election stands out in all of American history. Whether you liked the result or didn’t like the result, it’s just different,” said Sabato.
He says the Trump’s background is one of many things that distinguish him from previous presidents.
“Donald Trump is the only president-to-be who has not served in any political office or military office. He is an outsider complete and total. He’s the richest president by far. There’s just so many categories that make him unusual,” said Sabato.
When 2016 dawned, Trump was the front-runner for the Republican nomination, and other than an opening loss in Iowa, was the clear favorite throughout the chase for 1,237 delegates. Sabato says Trump benefited from a crowded GOP field.
“During the competitive part of the primary…Trump only received about 38 percent of the vote. Sixty-two percent of Republicans voted for other candidates. The problem (for the other candidates) was there was so many of them. So 38 percent was more than enough to win the nomination,” said Sabato.
All the supposed experts declared that Trump’s style, persona, and policy positions couldn’t possible win him the general election, but again Trump proved them all wrong. Sabato says it’s always hard for a party to win three consecutive terms in the White House. He says the only exception in modern history is the transition from Ronald Reagan to George H.W. Bush..
Another big factor that Sabato says was overlooked was a massive enthusiasm gap between supporters of Trump and Hillary Clinton.
“The turnouts in small town America, in rural America among the blue collar workers and white working class were enormous. It was just enormous, whereas Clinton was unable to excite even solid Democratic groups like millennials and African-American voters,” said Sabato.
He points out that Clinton won those groups handily but their turnout numbers were way down compared with 2012.
Sabato also notes that the media became fixated on Trump’s negatives and failed to pay attention to Clinton’s unpopularity.
“Hillary Clinton was more unacceptable than we realized. Yes, we knew she had high negatives. That was obscured by the fact that Trump had even higher negatives so we didn’t focus on her negatives. But it turned out her negatives unenthused the Democratic base, to a much greater degree in the end, than Trump’s negatives unenthused the Republican base,” said Sabato.
While Democrats offer excuses for Clinton’s defeat such as the influence of the Russians and the FBI to the existence of the Electoral College, Sabato says the real answers cut much closer to home.
“Hillary Clinton doesn’t want to talk about her inability to generate a large turnout among Democratic groups. She doesn’t want to talk about her inability to attract the white working class that got Bill Clinton elected in good part in 1992 and 1996. She never had a message that reached them,” said Sabato.
“Her slogan, although technically it was ‘Stronger Together’ whatever that means, was really ‘It’s My Turn. It’s My Turn.’ Well, people rarely elect a candidate because it’s their turn. They want to know what’s in it for them,” said Sabato.
But Clinton was not the only loser on election night. Sabato says President Obama took one on the chin as well.
“It hurts him a great deal. Why did he campaign so hard for a woman who gave him such trouble in 2008 and very nearly won the nomination instead of him?” asked Sabato. “He understood, just as Ronald Reagan understood, that if you don’t get a successor of your party elected to succeed you, much of what you’ve done is going to be reversed rather quickly and probably easily.”
For Sabato, 2016 leaves him with two major takeaways about the state of American politics. First, he says we need to pay more attention to who the most motivated voters are.
“A constituency that is ignored and feels angry or abused is going to turn out in larger numbers. It may be African-Americans for Barack Obama in 2008 or it may be white working class, rural or small town voters for Donald Trump in 2016. Always ask yourself, where’s the energy in the electorate,” said Sabato.
However, for all the big wins Republicans enjoyed in 2016, they still have some demographic problems.
“Republicans still have some of the basic problems they had before Trump was elected. They still don’t appeal to many minorities. They still don’t appeal to millennials. They have to get a larger share of more groups in the electorate if they are to win not just the electoral vote but the popular vote in future elections,” said Sabato.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America cheer the Italian police for taking out the Berlin terrorist, the Australian authorities for foiling a Christmas Day terrorist attack and those responsible for peacefully ending a hijacking in Malta. They also get a kick out of Harry Reid calling the DNC worthless and Joe Biden concluding that Hillary Clinton never figured out why she was running. And they applaud Donald Trump for getting Egypt to scrap a UN resolution condemning Israel after hearing the Obama administration might not oppose it.