On the one-year anniversary of Mock Con

Paige Williams

This Monday, it will have been one year since the Washington and Lee Mock Convention accurately predicted Donald Trump as the Republican nominee.

At the time, the nomination felt risky. It was a bit unnerving that our university had put in the time and the research and somehow Donald Trump was our last nominee standing.

Some students hoped we broke our streak and were wrong. Some were enthralled. Others were careful to stipulate our nomination was a prediction, not an endorsement.

In an article from January 2016, Trump said at a rally in New York, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

Hindsight being 20-20, he was somewhat correct.

Pundits thought that Trump’s simply incorrect statements about Muslims, insulting demeanor and uncouth comments about women were sure to drive away conservative Republicans. Yet, the Mock Con prediction stood correct. And surely his actions were enough to drive away voters in the general election. Yet, less than a month ago, he was sworn into office.

The W&L student body predicted what the country couldn’t—or wouldn’t.

Trump’s primary win was a shock to the GOP, but the groundwork was laid. His announcement for candidacy came at a time when many Republicans were leaning away from the establishment. It didn’t hurt that another Bush was the early front-runner.

Trump appealed to the voters who were disgruntled with the establishment and frustrated with gridlock. They wanted Trump to shake things up in Washington. Pundits, however, seemed to shy away from this thought. It is uncomfortable to think that such a large portion of the Republican Party would be so disgruntled with the government that they would support a candidate out of sheer disdain for the system.

All the while, Mock Convention was putting in hours and hours of work, calling party leaders in every state and studying polls. At the end of the day, W&L was correct yet again. While so many pundits and party officials didn’t want to believe that Trump could win and, in the process, foster the largest repudiation of the political establishment in recent history, W&L had the courage and foresight to declare that indeed he could.

One year later, it’s amazing to be able to say that Mock Convention predicted what Newt Gingrich called an utterly unpredictable election. But the time for celebrations has ended and it’s time to begin again.

It is time for the W&L community to continue the discussion.

This election cycle pointed to much of what some believe is wrong with the election system and highlighted some concerning social trends, all which will play central roles in the next Mock Convention.

The 26th Mock Convention was correct but here’s to three more unpredictable years of studying, researching and questioning.