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Global Trumpism

Why Trump’s Victory Was 30 Years in the Making and Why It Won’t Stop Here

Nigel Farage at Trump Tower, New York, November 2016. Eduardo Munoz / REUTERS

Trump’s victory was predictable, and was predicted, but not by looking at polls. Polling has taken a beating recently having failed to predict the victory of David Cameron’s Conservative Party in the British general elections, then Brexit, and now the election of Donald Trump. One can argue about what’s wrong with the methods involved, but more fundamentally what polls do is to treat these phenomena as isolated events when they are in fact the product of a common set of causes 30 years in the making.  

There are two issues at play here. The first is known as Galton’s problem, after Sir Francis Galton, the inventor of much of modern statistics. Galton’s problem is that when we treat cases as independent—the British election, Brexit, the U.S. election—they may not actually be independent. There may be links between the cases—think of Brexit’s

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