When will I ever learn? In my defense, all I can say is that I am not alone. Like pretty much every expert on both sides of the Atlantic, I assumed Joe Biden was going to beat Donald Trump.
The polls consistently predicted a landslide in Biden. On the eve of the election, a consensus of ten points for the Democratic Party candidate was the consensus. Trump was reportedly headed for an obliteration in Florida. Still, he won there.
If a fortune teller brought up hopeless prophecies year after year at a village fair, sooner or later we would find that we were being taken away. But we still trust surveys, even though they have been so far from the target lately.
They predicted a Trump defeat in the 2016 election. Not correct. You said Remain would win the 2016 referendum. Also wrong.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to crowds as the results feed in during the presidential election
They did not foresee the massive victory of the Tories in the parliamentary elections last December. Wrong again. Incidentally, that election seems to have been about a century ago, but it's only been 11 months.
Why do we continue to believe in the polls when they are usually at the top of the list? I think that's because they affirm the prejudices of the liberal elite, and even those of us who are not paid members get accepted often.
For example, it seemed clear to enlightened liberals that a majority would never vote for Brexit, which these high-minded people believe would be a bone-headed thing.
Polls confirming the impossibility of vacation voting were readily adopted.
A similar delusion was evident during the American presidential campaign. Trump is an uncomfortable man.
It is difficult to argue with the judgment that he is what psychologists call a "vicious narcissist". He is a self-serving braggart and a liar.
In the early hours of yesterday morning, this terrible creature absurdly claimed victory. He also stated that "election fraud" had taken place with no evidence whatsoever.
Pollsters and the mass media have assumed that such a terrible person cannot be re-elected President of the United States, especially after his abuse of the Covid-19 pandemic was added to his long list of failures.
So survey respondents weren't surprised when their research kept suggesting that Trump was on the path to annihilation. It was what they expected. How could the American people possibly re-elect such a monster?
As I write, it is still not clear whether or not Trump will stay in the White House for another four years, although the odds against him are increasing.
It is indisputable that it does far better than either predicted by pollsters or assumed by experts. They ignored the "shy" voters who did what they couldn't think of – and supported Trump.
It's not just pollsters and experts scratching their heads in disbelief. Millions of Democratic voters will be appalled, including Meghan Markle.
After Trump's victory in 2016, she described him as "misogynist" and "divisive", while in September she and Prince Harry suggested they would support Biden.
I suspect a lot of Democrats believe that the people who voted for Trump in greater numbers than expected on Tuesday are all racist, fascist, or generally idiotic. I doubt they are any of those things.
Loud militants – like the one at a Trump rally in North Carolina last year who "sent back" on an elected US Congressman of Somali descent – should not be confused with the tens of millions of ordinary voters who voted for him.
Most Trump supporters are probably well aware of its shortcomings.
Some of them may not like him. However, they chose him because some of his policies, or at least some of his attitudes, speak to them.
You wouldn't think Trump was very popular with Hispanics. Still, he won Florida for their support. They apparently feared that Joe Biden, and especially his runner-up, Kamala Harris, were on the left.
Staff count ballots for the 2020 presidential election at NRG Stadium in Harris County, Texas
And while I hesitate to quote polls after denouncing them, support for Trump is said to have been consistently 10 percentage points higher among African Americans than in 2016 and 14 percentage points higher among Hispanics.
You may not like him more than I do, but you see something in his ideas that attracts you. Who can doubt that millions of Trump voters, white, black and Spanish, are partially drawn to him for patriotic reasons?
These voters like the fact that he stands up for the interests of American workers vis-à-vis Chinese or Mexican workers, even if in practice he has done much less for them than he promised.
His quest to "make America great again," which has caused such embarrassment, if not actual hostility, in polite society has resonated with millions of Americans who are not ashamed to love their country.
Perhaps many Americans are also grateful that he did not embroil their country in futile wars – even though he whipped the Chinese forever and accused them of exporting coronavirus to the United States.
And, may it be fair to say, his opposition to immigration – although sometimes expressed in racist terms – resonated with many voters who worry about losing their jobs or suddenly changing their neighborhoods.
Similar fears, so hard for city liberals to understand – and so easily dismissed as racist by them – explained much of support for Brexit.
The return to our borders meant that immigration, which had gotten out of control in the minds of many over the past decade, could be contained.
How much better would it be if there was a respectable center-right politician – perhaps a Ronald Reagan – who campaigns for these causes, rather than the bully, misogynist, and arch manipulator Donald Trump. Such a person might have done better.
The fact that Trump can find so much support despite his terrible character speaks volumes. It acts as a lightning rod for fears and fears that are more likely to be rejected by the biennial people who dominate the media.
Supporters of President Trump take to the streets in Miami, Florida on November 4
Incidentally, the same people often condemn right-wing Fox News for their willingness to twist the facts.
It is certainly biased. But CNN is no less vehement in the opposite direction, despite being hailed in fashionable circles as the source of all truth.
Let me say if I were American I would have voted for Biden, even though he is a pretty clueless character who shows signs of senility. I couldn't bring myself to support a man like Trump.
Even so, it is clear that he connects with millions of decent Americans. To dismiss these people as extremists or simply call them stupid is a piece of monumental arrogance.
And it is as wrong, as some pollsters and experts, to minimize their importance or to have a deaf ear for their concerns. It's a way of saying that your worries aren't very important.
These people – socially conservative, patriotic, and often religious – are not the shaved thugs we see on our television screens.
In America as in Britain, the concerns of these silent voters are often ignored by the ruling class. Trump, however mean he may be, seems to be listening to them.