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Pence Aide Nick Ayers Figured Out What the Experts Didn’t on the Day of Trump’s Election

On Election Day in 2016, GOP political consultant Nick Ayers pointed out a vulnerability in conventional polling wisdom.


Ayers’ analysis turned out to be prescient, and the polling industry experienced a public “come to Jesus” moment in the aftermath of the 2016 election.


Ayers, who went on to be the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, made the observation in an interview with political strategist Mark McKinnon for “The Circus,” Showtime’s documentary series about presidential politics.

“I’ve always distrusted, particularly, national polls the closer you get,” Ayers told McKinnon at a rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania, as the Trump campaign awaited the election results.

  • “The statistical noise is bouncing around quite a bit, but no one wants to be wrong,” he added. “So generally what you find is everyone is sort of within each other’s margin of error, which I don’t think is very telling.”
  • Later in the show, McKinnon explained the optimism of Trump’s campaign staff despite their seemingly hopeless polling deficit, saying, “When you’re in the campaign, you find whatever evidence you can to hang on to the notion that it’s still going to happen.”

High-profile estimates had pegged Democrat Hillary Clinton’s odds of winning at anywhere from 71 to more than 99%.

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