Donald Trump has won, so we have another round of stories about polling shortcomings, though thankfully it’s someone else’s country this time round (this is very much a personal take from across an ocean – the Yougov American and British teams are quite separate, so I have no insider angle on the YouGov American polls to offer).

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about whether there was potential for the US polls to suffer the same sort of polling mishap as Britain had experienced in 2015. It now looks as if they have. The US polling industry actually has a very good record of accuracy – they obviously have a lot more contests to poll, a lot more information to hand (and probably a lot more money!), but nevertheless – if you put aside the 2000 exit poll, you have to go back to 1948 to find a complete polling catastrophe in the US. That expectation of accuracy means they’ll probably face a lot of flak in the days ahead.

We in Britain have, shall I say, more recent experience of the art of being wrong, so here’s what insight I can offer. First the Brexit comparison. I fear this will be almost universal over the next few weeks, but when it comes to polling it is questionable:

  • In the case of Brexit, the polling picture was mixed. Put crudely, telephone polls showed a clear lead for Remain, online polls showed a tight race, with leave often ahead. Our media expected Remain to win and wrongly focused only on those polls that agreed with them, leading to a false narrative of a clear Remain lead, rather than a close run thing. Some polls were wrong, but the perception that they were all off is wrong – it was a failure of interpretation.
  • In the case of the USA, the polling picture was not really mixed. With the exception of the outlying USC Dornslife/LA Times poll all the polls tended to show a picture of Clinton leading, backed up by state polls also showing Clinton leads consistent with the national polls. People were quite right to interpret the polls as showing Clinton heading towards victory… it was the polls themselves that were wrong.

How wrong were they? As I write, it looks as if Hillary Clinton will actually get the most votes, but lose in the Electoral College. In that sense, the national polls were not wrong when they showed Clinton ahead, she really was. It’s one of the most fustrating situations to be in as a pollster, those times when statistically you are correct… but your figures have told the wrong narrative, so everyone thinks you are wrong. That doesn’t get the American pollsters off the hook though: the final polls were clustered around a 4 point lead for Clinton, when in reality it looks about 1 point. More importantly, the state polls were often way out, polls had Ohio as a tight race when Trump stomped it by 8 points. All the polls in Wisconsin had Clinton clearly ahead; Trump won. Polls in Minnesota were showing Clinton leads of 5-10 points, it ended up on a knife edge. Clearly something went deeply wrong here.

Putting aside exactly how comparable the Brexit polls and the Trump polls are, there are some potential lessons in terms of polling methodology. I am no expert in US polling, so I’ll leave it to others more knowledgable than I to dig through the entrails of the election polls. However, based on my experiences of recent mishaps in British polling, there are a couple of places I would certainly start looking.

One is turnout modelling – US pollsters often approach turnout in a very different way how British pollsters traditionally did it. We’ve always relied on weighting to the profile of the whole population and asking people if they are likely to vote. US pollsters have access to far more information on which people actually do vote, allowing they to weight their samples to the profile of actual voters in a state. This has helped the normally good record of US pollsters… but carries a potential risk if the type of people who vote changes, if there is an unexpected increase in turnout among demographics who don’t usually vote. This was one of the ways British pollsters did get burnt over Brexit. After getting the 2015 election wrong lots of British companies experimented with a more US-style approach, modelling turnout on the basis of people’s demographics. Those companies then faced problems when there was unexpectedly high turnout from more working-class, less well-educated voters at the referendum. Luckily for US pollsters, the relatively easy availability of data on who voted means they should be able to rule this in or out quite easily.

The second is sampling. The inquiry into our general election polling error in 2015 found that unrepresentative samples were the core of the problem, and I can well imagine that this is a problem that risks affecting pollsters anywhere. Across the world landline penetration is falling, response rates are falling and it seems likely that the dwindling number of people still willing to take part in polls are ever more unrepresentative. In this country our samples seemed to be skewed towards people who were too educated, who paid too much attention to politics, followed the news agenda and the political media too closely. We under-represented those with little interest in politics, and several UK pollsters have since started sampling and weighting by that to try and address the issue. Were the US pollsters to suffer a similar problem one can easily imagine how it could result in polls under-representing Donald Trump’s support. If that does end up being the case, the question will be what US pollsters do to address the issue.


1,352 Responses to “Why were the US polls wrong?”

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  1. Along with the question of NATO, the other matter which directly impacts on the UK is the Trump administration’s attitude to free trade.

    Here there seems to be mixed messages.

    On the one hand there is a decided protectionist air – particularly with regard to future multi-lateral trade deals (TTIP, TPP), NAFTA and China. On the other hand there is this ambiguous phrase that the UK will be ‘at the front of the queue’, presumably for a bi-lateral trade deal.

    Taken together, this doesn’t seem to me to be the unalloyed good news that a post-Brexit UK would be looking for. Our ideal – if we are to embark on a new existence as free trading nation – is free trade with maximum nations via minimum structures / agreements. Putting aside all other considerations this would be best achieved through major multi-lateral or pluri-lateral agreements we can join as an independent signatory. This would give us quick access to large markets fast.

    Trump and the collapse of TTIP, could (emphasis on could), see the end of the era such new structures.

    Reading his pronouncements closely he seems to favour the creation of a larger number of bi-lateral agreements between the US and other nations. Again, this is consistent with his ‘deal-maker’ background. The bulk of such agreements are likely to be quite asymmetric,with the US as the much larger economy, and therefore, on paper at least, in the stronger negotiating position.

    My suspicion is that trade deals will be available with the US, but very much on US terms, which will need to deliver net benefit to the US fast. If they don’t pass this test, the US may be tempted to allow the status quo (WTO MFN) to continue.

    If Trump is half the negotiator that he claims to be, he will sense that the UK is likely to be in a position where it needs free trade deals – as much for political as economic reasons – pronto.

    So, we may get a the option for a relatively speedy US / UK trade deal, but need to be prepared for some very tough negotiations. It might be a baptism by fire.

    Much speculation there, but as action on trade was promised in the Gettysburg 100 days speech, we may get an indication quickly on how aggressively and in what direction the next administration intends to pursue policy that might affect the UK directly.

  2. Hawthorn

    One would say Russia preserved a major port. Similarly Russia is preserving it’s interests in Syria. We decided to not intervene in Syria which allowed Russia to play it’s cards as it wished once we made it clear we had no interest in sitting at the table.

    I expect Russia will finish the job in Ukraine as over time noone will care enough to do anything there. We may see him test the waters around Estonia and Latvia but I suspect he won’t get involved there.

    The areas Russia has got involved in are areas where the rest of the world takes little interest or least least won’t take any action.

    I suspect the US will be more interested in the South China Sea.

  3. Interesting speech by Paul Ryan. Despite the somewhat distanced relationship with Trump during the Campaign, he was effusive about Trump’s achievement. He acknowledged that many Republicans got into The House on Trump’s “coat-tails”

    He was raring to go with a “united” Republican Administration as soon as Trump “took his hand off the bible”.

    He mentioned the legislation ready to go on Obamacare , which looks like the first casualty of Obama’s legacy.

  4. Alex

    “who eschews the normal rule of campaigning, having a shambolic organisation, no effective ground game but instead relies on social media and mass rallies to talk direct to his supporters.”

    That’s the thing though – it wasn’t shambolic. He knew the TV media was going to be 100% hostile so he used social media instead.

    People looking for a trad campaign saw a shambles because they were looking in the wrong place. His social media campaign was great.

    There’s a lesson in this for all campaigns, Left or Right where the TV media are hostile don’t try and appease them as it’s a total waste of time – use social media to go round them instead.

    Brexit and now Brexit++ are the first signs that the power of the TV media to control politics is breaking down.

    Lesson for both Farage and Corbyn and Le Pen.

  5. Re: Trump’s position on NATO.

    http://www.nato.int/nato_static_fl2014/assets/pdf/pdf_2016_07/20160704_160704-pr2016-116.pdf

    His position is that the vast majority of the alliance members are not spending even close to 2% of GDP on defence and are expecting the USA to cover the shortfall.

    He has a point.

  6. One of the big questions is going to be whether Trump has enough economic road to get any reforms up and running. Globally we’re due for another dip reasonably soon, and US debts remain high. He is promising mass investment, tax cuts and potentially disruptive tariffs. Is the US economy strong enough to respond positively, and if it isn’t, what does that mean for Trump.

  7. I guess it is safe to say that TTIP is not going to happen under Trump (in addition to the opposition it was already getting from inside the EU). Bilateral trade deals will be the focus of the US administration now and one such deal with the UK is very likely, not least because UK manufacturing exports do not generally compete with domestic US producers and the financial and services sectors of the two countries are already somewhat integrated.

  8. Alec

    “By simply targeting his personal failings, I think the liberals dropped the ball.”

    He won on policies months ago: protectionist economics, anti war etc, that’s why the TV media went so hard attacking him personally and personally without social media to balance the TV media out I think it would have worked.

    Without the relentless personal attacks he would have won more bigly imo.

  9. Assiduosity: “So, we may get a the option for a relatively speedy US / UK trade deal, but need to be prepared for some very tough negotiations. It might be a baptism by fire.”

    Indeed. My experience of negotiating business deals with Americans is that they expect there to be a winner and a loser in the deal, and they will work very hard (I was going to write: stop at nothing, but it seemed a bit rude) to be the winner. I see Trump as being very much in that vein.

    In the UK and Europe, on the other hand, there tends to be the attitude that a good deal is one in which both parties walk away satisfied and better off.

  10. @ Danny
    “Why? What strategic interest does the US have in defending a continent quite capable of defending itself? ”

    The PNAC people want(ed) “full spectrum dominance” so disarming Europe was a policy even if they complained in public.

    #

    s thomas
    “Russian aggression is less likely under trump.”

    Agree. Trump has an ego – won’t like being made to look foolish in public – makes him someone to be wary of.

    I wonder if Duterte will change his tack now?

  11. I don’t expect anything really to change with Nato.

    European countries aren’t going to increase defence spending much if at all. They don’t have the money and things like health and pensions are higher priorities for their voters.

    Trump could move some assets home to the US and that would cause some localised issues for the economies where they are based and boost a few slightly at home but have little or no overall effect due to the size of the US and EU economies.

    even then if the US is to continue to project power globally it needs a network of secure allies and bases in Europe. You can’t reinforce Israel from across the Atlantic.

    Besides since the Cold War the scale of the US presence in Europe has been steady declining. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have held it up for logistical reasons but I doubt Trump will do much more than what was already expected.

    He has said the same things about Japan and South Korea but the same applies there, a scaling back but not a pull out.

    As to his claim that the money he saves will go into rebuilding US infrastructure, that’s hokum.

    The vast bulk of US defence spending in spent in the US and he has promised to increase it so any money saved in Europe or Asia will by definition stay in the defence budget and more, so theirs no cash for Bridges and roads there.

    If he ends sequestration and the Congress imposed cap on the DOD budget, it will be at the expense of domestic programmes as Congress will be for cutting taxes. That leaves really only one way to fund infrastructure….Borrowing.

    Given the Republicans in congress have had a twenty year war against the Federal deficit that will be interesting.

    Meanwhile before January and by the summer expect Russia to launch big pushes in Syria and in Eastern Ukraine come the spring.

    Aleppo will fall and what is left of the pro western rebellion is finished. Given that in both Iraq and Syria the Iranians are on the ground on the same side as the US fighting ISIS his decisions on Iran should be interesting.

    If he tears up the Iran deal as he has said he will, then he is turning his back on one both the EU and Russia have signed. If he puts sanctions on Iran but lifts them on Russia then he is going to go head to head with the EU.

    I’d go as far as to see the formal annexation of parts of Ukraine as in Crimea and a big push to turn Moldova back into a Client state. They may also decide to have another go at Georgia just to see what trump is made of.

    On trade the clock is already ticking. He might try to implement his policies but he won’t get round the table till at least the spring and unless he unilaterally pulls the plug on treaties it will be at least a year before anything is on the table at all.

    Given the last year of a Presidents term is all campaigning he has no more than 30 months to change the US terms of trade with all it’s biggest partners while they have very incentive to run down the clock.

    Even if you do believe his rhetoric, getting a system in place that will get investors to abandon billions in production facilities abroad, invest the same or more in the US and then start to see that bear fruit in terms of jobs within three years is a fantasy.

    Equally anyone making that move would need to be sure that the new tariff regent would be long lasting and that free trade was over, or else they would have moved production at huge expense just to need to move it back again within ten years.

    It’s a bit like Nissan, they feel that Brexit might be bad for them but not so bad it is worth the disruption and expense of upping sticks from Sunderland where they have invested billions.

    We also have the economic impact of his Tax and trade policies on his core support. Long before any new plant and investment caused by a tariff Regime with China and Mexico kicks in the impact of those tariffs on consumer goods will be felt through inflation.

    If a $400 Chinese made computer get a $100 tariff to level the playing field with a $500 US made one the price of computers in the shops goes up by £$100…

    Unless importers find a way to cut costs margins or absorb the increase then it’s inflation.

    That will hit consumers in the rust belt a lot faster than he supposed new jobs appear, if they do.

    On Mexico much like here pre Brexit with a rush of people trying to get in before hand I think there will be a big upsurge in people trying to get into the US before the wall is built.
    This could lead to lots of fun and games, particularly if cross border cooperation suffers due to political differences. Again in the short term a lot of investment decisions will be put on hold until people see what Trump is actually intending to do and if he can pull it off.

    Hardly the right climate for investors if you want to double growth.

    It’s too early to say exactly what investors will make of all this but any lack of clarity tends to spook them and US bond prices have already taken a tumble.

    If that keeps up and trump does need to use debt to fund his plans expect the markets to price in higher interest rates.

    If he goes ahead with his plan to renegotiate the US debt and looks to the lenders effectively taking a hair cut. as he has so often in his business dealings, you need to expect the appetite for future US debt to diminish and the price the US has to pay investors to take that greater risk to go up.

    Result, more future US debt costing more to service, which was not surprisingly was exactly what happened under Reagan even those he campaigned to cut the deficit.

    May we live in interesting times.

    Peter.

  12. Assiduosity,
    I did my best to read through. I see it this way: The US is broke and needs to draw back. Europe is rich and can afford to defend itself. It does not do so because the US has promised to do it for Europe, for free. The US has already asked nicely if Europe would please sort out its own defence. Nothing doing. So just walk out. Europe will be forced to do something. Or it will still not bother, and in that case why should the US bother either? All the time the US stays, europe will never deveop its own defence. It is in the interest of the US both locally and potentially globally if Europe does create its own credible forces. No brainer. The US needs to get out of any commitment to defend europe.

    Whats more I can even see Obama and Trump having a little chat in their handover talks agreeing this is the right thing to do, and their generals agreeing also. Given timescales involved, a stiff announcement pretty soon about getting the US out of Europe would sound good on meeting election promises, and get things moving during the presidential term. Simultaneously some fireside chats with Putin too. Perhaps inviting Putin to have a freer hand elsewhere but to leave Nato countries alone.

    “This would be a continuation of the Obama ’tilt to Asia’ policy.”

    Trump is not such a whacko as he has been portrayed. I think he is in a hurry, however, and believes the current softly softly approach is not working. He needs to tackle the US overconcentration on armaments industries, and fast.

  13. SEA CHANGE,

    “He has a Point”

    No he doesn’t, as with all of Trumps points it’s superficial and simplistic.

    With the exceptions of Britain and France who maintain capacities to act beyond Europe almost all of the other members of the European nato spend all their money on European defence.

    The biggest spender in GDP terms in Greece, but most of that is aimed at Turkey, who are supposed to be an ally and it only looks big because they have maintained their defence spending while their economy has tanked.

    The US figure up near 4% looks impressive but much of that is in the Pacific and Asia or Middle East including bankrolling Israel and that doesn’t even take into account the US Nuclear Arsenal.

    A figure for what share of GDP the US contributes to Nato would probably be closer to 0.5% than 4%, which is why cutting it won’t be a big deal.

    Peter.

  14. “Fed faces Trump glare ahead of policy shake-up
    President-elect’s economic advisers say US central bank has created a ‘false economy’”
    The election of Donald Trump as US president will unleash a policy shift away from monetary policy towards fiscal measures in the coming months, some of his key advisers told the Financial Times.”

    FT online headline.

    Goodbye QE. Hello…………..? more Debt.

    ………..and a big Bond Selloff.:-

    “Government-bond prices tumbled Wednesday, sending the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note above 2% for the first time in eight months, the latest sign that investors are wagering that expansive fiscal spending under a Donald Trump administration will mean higher bond yields in coming years”

    WSJ

  15. Alec

    “One of the big questions is going to be whether Trump has enough economic road to get any reforms up and running.”

    I think it will will depend on who’s right over the effect of mass immigration.

    If the people who say it stagnates demand (by stagnating wages and increasing housing costs thus reducing disposable income) are correct then chasing out illegals etc will increase domestic demand and taxes and reduce welfare spending.

    If they’re wrong it won’t.

    However second problem is if it does increase domestic demand then that extra spending cash will all flow out of the country and make the trade balance even worse unless he moves fast on the tariff / import substitution side (which is possible imo as the US can get away with stuff that smaller countries can’t).

    So personally i think he could turn it all around and create a boom very fast.

    But it does depend on whose political economy is right
    – low wage + high GDP
    or
    – high wage + high GDP per capita

  16. Danny

    The premise of your post is that the USA has bases in Europe because Europe is too mean to defend itself.

    It’s possible, though, that the USA has bases in Europe because that is part of what being a Superpower means. And because by assuming a role in the defence of Europe, it prevents Europe becoming a strong military power in its own right.

    If the USA did withdraw from NATO, then I think that the remaining 25 (or 26, if the UK stayed) European members would get their act together pretty quickly, simply because it would be imperative to have a credible deterrent to Russian adventurism. Logically, that would include joint funding and control of the French nuclear forces (and the UK ones, in the unlikely event that we were willing to play ball and they are capable of being disentangled from US command and control).

    Whether the USA would welcome the appearance of such a capable military organisation on the world stage is an interesting question.

  17. On polling, maybe pollsters are going to have to expect (at least for the time being) that where a self-declared anti-establishment candidate, with charisma; faces an establishment candidate with little or no charisma, the charisma alone can be worth around 5%+

    Trump connected with upper Midwest voters in a way that wasn’t that surprising. Hillary’s difficulties with these voters were clear from the Dem primaries.

  18. the other point to be made about Trump’s ground game is the GOP were sabotaging him in some areas so he had to get round that as well

  19. @Mr Jones

    I don’t think social media had anything to do with it. Trump simply connected with his key demographics in a way few Republicans have been able to do since Reagan.

  20. RAF

    You can only say that if you don’t know what he was doing on Facebook etc

    He had *millions* of people watching his live speeches.

    millions

  21. Not been on this site for a v long while. No time to read yr wise & witty thoughts; just checking poling still exists, given the pollsters have failed again! If they were investment managers, they would be wondering the streets with holes in their shoes & glazed expressions, muttering about past glories. As it is they continue to earn a living by explaining their errors: sampling, landlines, shy this and that.
    Looks like Reagonomics all over again. Oh dear. As ever US economy tanks under the GOP — basically massive budget deficits — & the Democrats get the blame. Very odd.

  22. Basically if you want to know what’s going on don’t watch the BBC.

    You’re talking about a group of people who almost all come from the same tiny background (upper middle class, oxbridge, liberal non science degrees) and everything gets filtered through that.

    It didn’t matter as much in the past because they made the world conform to their view simply by being the dominant media – effectively peer pressure – and although that is still very powerful it’s a lot less than it was.

  23. @Colin

    NYT Exit Poll

    How can we have any more confidence in an exit poll when the whole thread is about how the polls got it so wrong – again.

    Radio 4s 6:30 comedy slot was making jokes about the pollsters, and expect tomorrows ‘Now show’ will have a few more.

  24. Danny,

    “He needs to tackle the US overconcentration on armaments industries, and fast.”

    That would be the Trump who has promised to rebuild americas run down Armed Forces!

    MrJones,

    ‘I think it will will depend on who’s right over the effect of mass immigration.’

    But the problem in much of America has been old industries dining because of high costs not because of cheap Labour. While rust belt states have seen mass job losses places like Texas have boomed, so it’s not low cost labour that’s the problem.

    The Us doesn’t have a major immigration problem, though many perceive it as such, it has a mismatch between the location and type of jobs and the labour force.

    People who used to earn good money for skilled work in Detroit making cars have trouble adapting to poor paid call centre work in Atlanta, or getting different high skilled work as programmers in the same city.

    The technological revolution as much as free trade has made their skills redundant and trump can’t really change that.

    People in Sheffield can vote Brexit because they have lost their steel jobs if they like and complain about immigration from Romania.

    However that doesn’t mean they will be keen to spend their summers living in a hut in Norfolk getting but at 5.00 in the morning to pick carrots for the minimum wage.

    Putting Tariffs on Indian steel and sending the Romanians home might seem like the solution but in truth it’s unlikely to bring their jobs back much as they would like it.

    Whats worse from Robocall centres and Uber to self driving trucks there is another wave of job eaters just around the corner.

    Interesting times indeed.

    Peter.

  25. It might be valuable as an “exit guess”. And we can see how good the guessing is etc…

  26. @Mr Jones

    I was watching CNN and Fox!

  27. Colin
    I imagine your wife must have ground her teeth to dust listening to Donald boasting about his conquests.

  28. @Peter

    Just because Trump says something doesn’t automatically make it simplistic and superficial. Play the point and not the man.

    It’s not just Trump saying that Europe is not spending enough. This has been coming from the USA top brass for the past few years. The NATO General Secretary, the former Norwegian PM said last year, “We need to redouble our efforts to reverse this trend, We are facing more challenges, and we cannot do more with less indefinitely.”

    I’m sure the SNP prefers to spend money on welfare programs to the detriment of pesky non-utopian items like Defence in line with many parties in Europe, however that is short-sighted.

    Europe has punitive sanctions against an increasingly belligerent Russia. Having a robust military deterrence takes time and resources to construct.

  29. Here is Michael Moore’s article from a few months back about why he was convinced Trump would win:

    http://michaelmoore.com/trumpwillwin/

    He pretty much nailed the bit about the rust belt. Say what you like about him, but he has close knowledge about his patch of the world – the wonder is that the Dems were busily imagining that everywhere was like Silicon Valley.

  30. Peter Cairns

    “But the problem in much of America has been old industries dining because of high costs not because of cheap Labour.”

    those high costs were/are labour costs so off-shoring is about cheaper labour also: off-shore those industries that can be off-shored and import more workers for those industries that can’t be

    but yes chasing away illegal immigration doesn’t help the rust belt specifically – if the demand stagnation argument is correct the point about squeezing immigration is simply that it would be a quick way to create a boom in domestic demand

    it’s the tariff / import substitution part that would help the rust belt (if it worked)

    #

    “places like Texas have boomed, so it’s not low cost labour that’s the problem.”

    yeah but the definition of “boom” is the crux of the argument

    adding more people automatically increases GDP – the question is does raw GDP define prosperity – clearly not

    #

    again if you don’t agree with the over supply of labour -> demand stagnation argument then if he does do something about the millions of illegals (which he may not anyway) then it will backfire economically and you’ll be proved right

    my main point is it could be a fast experiment either way

  31. Mr Jones
    “Basically if you want to know what’s going on don’t watch the BBC.
    You’re talking about a group of people who almost all come from the same tiny background (upper middle class, oxbridge, liberal non science degrees) and everything gets filtered through that.”

    Well said. Totally agree. I had a small bet on Trump winning simply because the BBC said it was impossible.

    Trump’s success and Brexit seem to be part of a raft of anti-establishment feeling which crosses borders. It reminds me of when the Soviet bloc broke up, or the riots of 1968.

    “There is a tide in the affairs of men….”

  32. @Peter Cairns

    Thing is, even if peeps don’t want to do fruit picking, cheaper labour in some sectors can pull wages down in other sectors.

    Even if peeps are forced to take call centre work instead because their original jobs outsourced, there is still the problem of increased immigration putting up housing costs and hence diminishing dispisable income.

    In other words, the impact on demand and peeps dispisable income remains regardless of peeps attitude towards work in call centres.

    This is before getting into how the Trade deals led to the collapse in their employment prospects in the first place owing to outsourcing…

  33. somerjohn,
    “It’s possible, though, that the USA has bases in Europe because that is part of what being a Superpower means. And because by assuming a role in the defence of Europe, it prevents Europe becoming a strong military power in its own right.”

    Yes of course it is possible. However an alternative scenario is that the US has an overdraft you would not believe, and Trump is determined to do something about it. In a situation where resources are limited it is impossible to police everyone, and frankly far better to be policing China than Europe. The US is facing the same decision the Uk had to face ww1/ww2 whether to encourage the US to militarise so as to help the war effort, or to encourage it to remain isolated. Pragmatically the Uk decided it was better to have a rival than to simply lose. The same applies encouraging Germany and Japan individually to rearm, which has also been US policy in recent years. All in all, the strategy is not new.

  34. @Sea Change

    Why spend so much on defence? We have the nuclear deterrent don’t we? Americans are paranoid about military spending. 600 billion dollars a year is a shocking amount. Even spending half of this would more than China and Russia put together.

  35. From the Michael Moore article Candy linked to, well worth a read…

    “Well, folks, this isn’t an accident. It is happening. And if you believe Hillary Clinton is going to beat Trump with facts and smarts and logic, then you obviously missed the past year of 56 primaries and caucuses where 16 Republican candidates tried that and every kitchen sink they could throw at Trump and nothing could stop his juggernaut.”

  36. Oh, and I think trump is questioning the premise that US acting as world policeman and trying to order the world to its advantage, really has paid off.

  37. Seachange,

    “Just because Trump says something doesn’t automatically make it simplistic and superficial. Play the point and not the man.”

    But I did play the point, I laid out in detail why Trumps contention was simplistic.

    He compared the GDP spending level of a superpower with global reach and interests with a range of European Countries focused on only their immediate defence and inferred they were spending too little.

    You could equally argue the US is spending far too much, does it really need a dozen Aircraft Carriers and 2,000 tanks when it can only be invaded by Canada or Mexico?

    But that would be equally superficial.

    The UK & France spend about 1% of GDP more than Germany, but unlike Germany we have Nuclear weapons, Nuclear Submarines, Aircraft Carriers, Assault ships Tanker and Heavy Transport Aircraft.

    We make different national choices for our own reasons and choose to cooperate on defences.

    It’s not too much or too little just different choices.
    The US chooses to spend what it thinks is the right amount and then assumes the rest of us are wrong and complains about it.

    As an organisation NATO has always wanted higher spending, but then so does every defence ministry, every ministry and organisation.

    Current and formers NATO chiefs aren’t saying anything about their budget needs that every former head of the European commission hasn’t said about the EU’s.

    Trumps no different and I for one doubt he’ll change anything substantially.

    Peter.

  38. @TANCRED

    “Why spend so much on defence”

    ————

    It does have some virtues, for eggers it can be a handy economic stimulus. The internet, which you are using to complain about defence spending, arose from defence spending…

  39. Seachange,

    Oh and just for the record at the referendum the SNP set out a commitment to a post Independence defence budget of……2% of GDP!

    Peter.

  40. Also from the Michael Moore thing…

    “Trump is going to hammer Clinton on this and her support of TPP and other trade policies that have royally screwed the people of these four states. When Trump stood in the shadow of a Ford Motor factory during the Michigan primary, he threatened the corporation that if they did indeed go ahead with their planned closure of that factory and move it to Mexico, he would slap a 35% tariff on any Mexican-built cars shipped back to the United States. It was sweet, sweet music to the ears of the working class of Michigan, and when he tossed in his threat to Apple that he would force them to stop making their iPhones in China and build them here in America, well, hearts swooned and Trump walked away with a big victory that should have gone to the governor next-door, John Kasich.”

    Point being, Trump might make grandiose gestures like proffering 35% tariffs and building the wall, but they make it abundantly real to even the most distracted, time-limited or even confused that he gets their key concerns. (Even if the concerns are misplaced…)

    Brexit campaign had similar big simple gestures, the buses with the £350 million etc… before that the immigration vans…

  41. Carfrew,

    “Even if peeps are forced to take call centre work instead because their original jobs outsourced, there is still the problem of increased immigration putting up housing costs and hence diminishing disposable income.”

    But in much of the US particularly the northern cities house prices and costs have collapsed…You can buy a house in Chicago for $100.

    True it’s not in a neighbourhood you would want to live in but a society where at the same time you have lots of places with both high homelessness and lots of empty houses isn’t one where immigration is forcing up housing costs.

    I’ve never been that convinced by the Brexit arguments here about immigration as a cost of our economic woes and I am even less convinced that it works for the US.

    One parallel looks like in the US the pats with relatively low immigration and indeed falling populations seemed more concerned about immigration than the biggest cities like New York or LA where their are more immigrants.

    Peter.

  42. “Oh and just for the record at the referendum the SNP set out a commitment to a post Independence defence budget of……2% of GDP!”

    Then why are you against the rest of Europe following suit?

    Apart from French and the British, most European militaries are decidedly anaemic. Russia is spending 5%. Plus it has a vast advantage in hardware already.

  43. @Sea Change

    Russia is spending 5% of a much smaller pie, and one that is shrinking.

    Europe’s problem isn’t so much overall defence spending, it is the fact that the spending is not on the right things. Not even Britain and France can really put together a broad-spectrum, fully integrated fighting force any more. The US has plugged that gap for us.

    There’s a strong case not just for an increase in spending but for that spending to be integrated into a single co-ordinated effort, in the service of the EU’s new single foreign policy and single political voice.

  44. We obviously have to keep our defence spending high because of France…

  45. SeaChange,

    “Then why are you against the rest of Europe following suit?’

    It’s up to each democracy to decide it’s own priorities and set it’s own budget.

    As I said the UK and France spend more because they choose to do things others don’t.

    Germany only wants to defend Germany and it’s allies in Europe, France wants to defend France but also French Guyana and Reunion and we want to defend the Falklands and have a base on Cyprus.

    Different Nations making different choices. Scotlands 2% would be proportionally less than Norway but more than Ireland, but we each have our own circumstances and make our own choices.

    Peter.

  46. places with no jobs -> low demand

    places with jobs + high housing costs -> low demand

    if Trump does what he says we should have proof whether a low wage or high wage economy works best for the majority of the population

  47. Neil A,

    “Europe’s problem isn’t so much overall defence spending, it is the fact that the spending is not on the right things.”

    I don’t really disagree with that but a bigger problem is national protectionism; the US builds one tank the M1, Europe builds four with Turkey soon to join the UK, France, Germany and Italy.

    Peter.

  48. Neil A

    “There’s a strong case not just for an increase in spending but for that spending to be integrated into a single co-ordinated effort, in the service of the EU’s new single foreign policy and single political voice.”

    There is – an one of the reasons I thought it sensible to be part of a Confederal EU which had a common defence policy, incorporating integrated working of individual states’ military forces.

    Peter

    “Different Nations making different choices. Scotlands 2% would be proportionally less than Norway but more than Ireland, but we each have our own circumstances and make our own choices.”

    Also true – but there is no reason why different members can’t specialise in areas of military spending which suit their defence profile, while constructing them in a manner in which they slot easily into a common EDF.

    One of the benefits of defence spending on personnel, for example, is that their spending power is recycled within their own economy – which doesn’t happen if they and their families are located permanently outwith the borders.

  49. @Neil A “Russia is spending 5% of a much smaller pie, and one that is shrinking.”

    That may be so, but they are still the 4th largest spenders on defence in the world. They have enough tanks, artillery pieces and infantry plus air support to overrun large swathes of Eastern Europe in days. Conversely most European military forces are untested and weak.

    @Peter “It’s up to each democracy to decide its own priorities and set its own budget.”

    I agree. However when you have the USA consistently telling you that you’re not pulling your weight and that your chief protector is openly talking of pivoting elsewhere, while having a belligerent well equipped neighbour on your doorstep, you are playing a very foolish game IMO.

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