What I got wrong about the election

MESSAGE MUDDLE The only two messages that appeared to punch through were the anti-Trump line, on the left, and the grossly overhyped email issue on the right. Mrs. Clinton talked about what she wanted to do from a policy perspective every day, but this campaign was not the Lincoln-Douglas debates, it was “Mad Max: Fury Road.” The three big TV networks together devoted 32 minutes on their evening newscasts to policy coverage in 2016. Again — 32. The race turned into “The Jerry Springer Show,” and that was the kind of campaign Mr. Trump was most comfortable with — and I’m sure the ugliness had the added effect of suppressing turnout.

THE TRUMP CAMPAIGNERS WERE SMART As they flew around Pennsylvania and Michigan and boasted they could change the map, many people, including me, ridiculed them as aimlessly and amateurishly wasting time and resources. But they saw something and committed to a strategy few even in the Republican Party thought would work. They challenged conventional wisdom, and were proved right. And Mr. Trump’s appeal to voters in these states was as strong as he predicted it would be.

JAMES COMEY From the last debate until Election Day, the dominant news was the F.B.I. and Mrs. Clinton’s emails along with a drumbeat of daily WikiLeaks dumps. Postelection research will help shed light here, but the small number of undecided voters at the end should have broken at least equally based on their demographic and voting history. If exit polls are accurate, they moved to Mr. Trump much more than to Mrs. Clinton in certain battleground states, and it’s quite possible the shadow created by the F.B.I. director was the major culprit. Oct. 19, the day of the final debate, was a long 20 days to Nov. 8, and the atmosphere was far from ideal for the Democratic candidate.