The New York Times had long predicted that Hillary Clinton would steadily win Tuesday's presidential election. At one point, the Times' Upshot blog put Clinton's chances of victory at 93 percent — and on Election Day, it reported only slightly lower odds, at 85 percent. But as election results began to pour in from across the country, the Times' election updates gave Donald Trump an edge, causing many readers to question those earlier polls.
On Tuesday night, the Times' website was plastered with all kinds of meters, graphs, and numbers. At 10 p.m. EST, the presidential prediction meter put Trump's chances of winning at 64 percent, while the Times also projected that he would win more than 280 Electoral College votes. Although a cautionary disclaimer warned readers that early results may be skewed until more votes were counted, the Times' visual models caught the attention of many a curious voter.
As the meter tipped further in Trump's favor shortly after 10 p.m. EST, the Times projected that the Republican nominee would win states like Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Florida, in particular, dominated much of the early media coverage about Tuesday's results, as Trump seemingly needed to do well there in order to stay competitive in electoral votes.
For Clinton supporters, the Times' real-time projections represented a scary, and largely unexpected, reality. For Trump supporters, the feeling seemed to be more, "I told ya so." Throughout his campaign, Trump took aim at the mainstream media, calling it biased against him. Through several tweets, he notoriously deemed the New York paper the "failing New York Times." On the night of the election, many supporters were quick to use Trump's line, while others pointed out the irony.
By shortly after 10:30 EST, the Times' primary meter put Trump's chances of victory at a whopping 87 percent. In other words, the paper more than flipped its prediction from earlier in the day. (Reminder: Before results came in, the Upshot blog put Clinton's chances of victory at 85 percent.) Those results still didn't account for west coast states like California and Washington, but they were enough to make Times readers question everything they'd already read about the election.
The Times wasn't the only outlet to reverse its election predictions based on Tuesday's results. Election polling guru Nate Silver of the website 538.com changed his prediction, which had long favored Clinton, as more and more states turned red or close to red. Ultimately, the idea that Trump could win so many important states — including Texas and Ohio — seemed all-around surprising to experts and readers alike.