Why you should care
Because this man predicted the unpredictable — and now he’s looking at what’s to come under a Trump White House.
On election eve, Campaigns and Elections Magazine asked 14 political consultants to call the race as they saw it — and only one predicted a Donald Trump victory. In fact, Seth Weathers, the former Georgia state director for Trump whom OZY first profiled last December, claimed the billionaire would top 300 electoral votes in a landslide. And the yet-to-be-final count has Weathers being eerily correct.
We reconnected with Weathers to discuss what transpired this week, what a Trump administration could look like and where Trump and Republicans in Congress move forward from here. Our interview has been edited and condensed.
WHAT MADE YOU CONFIDENT IN YOUR PREDICTION?
Seth Weathers: This is something I’ve said for months now: The Rust Belt was going to be Trump’s savior. Even if Trump was 3 to 5 percent down in the polls on election day, he’d come away with a victory in those states.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE POLLS AND PUNDITS MISSED?
Weathers: The people who weren’t going to come out and say they would support Trump. Pollsters always say that live calls are the gold standard, but in this case, robo calls were better, because people didn’t want to say they supported Trump to a real person. The other thing: There is not one pollster in America that is polling people who haven’t voted in 10 years. I put on these Trump rallies and met tons of people who had never voted. Pollsters didn’t want to accept that, because in previous elections there weren’t huge numbers of people who couldn’t be polled. The suburbs of D.C. are not the same as the suburbs of Detroit. People think, “I’m in touch with suburbanites, and I’m not seeing any of them go for Trump — they must not exist.”
It’s going to be a conservative dream team, the kind that previous administrations might have been afraid to do because it could have been seen as polarizing.
WHAT WILL A TRUMP CABINET LOOK LIKE?
Weathers: Only the best. There will be a lot of people put into positions that aren’t just retreads from former administrations, or a state-level similar job. There isn’t going to be a process of “Now it’s my turn, so it’s my job” — and what’s insane is that’s how it’s been in the past.
Rudy Giuliani will be somewhere important; Homeland Security, perhaps. There’s a lot of talk about Newt Gingrich; I could see him getting Secretary of State. It’s going to be a conservative dream team, the kind that previous administrations might have been afraid to do because it could have been seen as polarizing. I would love to see Georgia Sen. David Perdue as Commerce secretary — whether or not he would take something like that, I won’t speculate. Also, Peter Thiel. Something related to technology would make a lot of sense because the guy is an actual genius, and he crosses a lot of barriers. Regardless of an appointment, he’s someone who will have Trump’s ear.
What Trump can’t do without all the change he’s talked about implementing is to appoint a bunch of fence-sitters, and I don’t think he desires to do so. Some of them are going to be polarizing. This election was about change — it wasn’t about getting there and being the same. I’m sure there is going to be some heartache on the left with the people he appoints. But I think two years in, people will be very surprised on how they’ve performed.
He’s going to undo a lot of Obama’s executive orders.
WHAT DOES TRUMP DO WITH A REPUBLICAN CONGRESS IN HIS FIRST 100 DAYS?
I’ll tell you one thing: Trump will not waste that. The repeal of Obamacare will be at the top of it. He’s going to undo a lot of Obama’s executive orders. And I won’t quote the new administration on what they’ll do, but I think Obama’s immigration orders and tax policy will be looked at. Some of the Republicans talked tax cuts up in campaign season because they never thought they’d be faced with having to do that. These people in Congress will be held to the fire on tax cuts.
WHERE WILL TRUMP BREAK RANKS WITH REPUBLICANS?
Entitlements. Trump has made it very clear that we’re not going to cut your Social Security. Republicans in Congress have long been under the impression that the only way to fix these things is to cut that from people who have already invested in it. Trump is making the argument that there are so many other areas to fix and reduce that we shouldn’t take from the people who have paid into it — that’s theft.
HOW CAN HE ASSURE THOSE PEOPLE WHO FEAR WHAT A TRUMP PRESIDENCY MEANS FOR THEM?
I don’t think it’s Trump’s job to go out and prove that the media was lying about what he was going to do. He certainly did that during the campaign. If there is anybody who has been destroyed in this election, it’s the media. If they were concerned, why would a higher percentage of Black people vote for Trump than John McCain and Mitt Romney? The media told us it was only going to be 1 percent of Blacks supporting Trump. What happened to that?