Hewitt, Williams Agree on This: No One Saw Trump Coming
Hugh Hewitt spoke about the presidential election on the first day of the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference, Nov. 14.
“Anyone who tells you they saw it coming is lying—the data was not there to support the outcome,” said Hugh Hewitt, a radio commentator and a conservative political analyst on NBC, speaking, of course, about Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election.
Juan Williams, a Democrat who opines on Fox News Channel, said how hard he took Hillary Clinton’s loss on November 8. “It’s a pleasure to be with you, because I had a near-death experience last Tuesday,” Williams said to laughter, speaking with Hewitt yesterday to kick off the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Las Vegas.
Both men said none of their fellow pundits got it right. The night before the election, Williams said, the analysts who work at the decision desk at Fox and call the states for one candidate or the other were having dinner. “A piece of paper is being passed around,” with each analyst writing down who they believed would win and how many electoral votes would be captured. “No one picked Donald Trump and the electoral votes were well over 329,” Williams said.
Hewitt, meanwhile, was over at Rockefeller Center where NBC is headquartered. The night of the election, the first waves of exit polls started coming in at about 5 p.m. “I got the summary of early exit polls, and it said Hillary will win and we’ll call it around 11 p.m.,” Hewitt said. Hewitt thought he’d get in a good night’s sleep before his morning radio program. “I thought I’d be going home at 11 p.m. I ended up with 75 minutes of sleep. The temperature of the room cooled down to frigid,” he added as election night wore on.
Hewitt said Trump won rural America three to one over Clinton. He attributed the victory to 55,000 voters switching sides in four states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio. A major factor was news in the last month before the election about rising healthcare costs. “How many of you had adverse effects, you or your employees, from Obamacare in the last month,” he asked the crowd of restaurant operators and financiers at the conference. “Two out of three raised their hands,” and Hewitt believed that turned the tide toward Trump.
Williams disagreed, pointing instead, as Clinton did herself, to the FBI report, both 11 days and then two days before the election, about a further look into her emails on the private server she used while Secretary of State. “Both served the narrative—could she be indicated or impeached as president,” Williams said.
The Restaurant Finance & Development Conference, sponsored by FT’s sister publication the Restaurant Finance Monitor, runs through Wednesday noon at the Bellagio.