Like many others, I believed in the polls.
Followed Nate Silver's '538' on an almost by minute basis. Real Clear, Pollyvote, The Upshot, Huffington Post too.
They were all wrong to a lesser or greater extent. I watched the 'swingometer' on the New York Times webpage over the course of election evening as it inexorably moved from 'Likely Clinton' all the way to '>95% Trump'. As it did so I felt my spirits sink lower and lower.
Whatever you may think of his politics, it is hard to hold up Donald Trump as a paragon of virtue. Yet those character flaws clearly did not bother enough people to dissuade them for voting for him. If I had truly opened my eyes to what was around me and removed myself from the bubble of poll watching, I might have been more cognizant of and less surprised by this.
For even in my home of University City, Missouri, a liberal bastion of a municipality, I was hard pressed to find any pro-Hillary yard signs. Instead, like stubborn corn stalks from last season's harvest, 'Bernie' banners remained. There was no fresh growth. No 'Trump' signs either, but it takes no more than a 10 mile journey in any direction out of the city to find those in profusion. Such as here in Hamel, just off Interstate 55 in Illinois. Route 66 runs right through the center of this small town and highway tourism has become part of the economic fabric as it has in many others.
This is Trump country. Rural and white. Part of Madison County that stretches down towards East St. Louis and encompasses part of the suburban surroundings. Even allowing for that urban associated component, 70295 votes were cast for Donald Trump in Madison County. Hillary Clinton got 50336.
Of course, thanks to Chicago, Illinois overall voted for Clinton but my side of the Mississippi River, Missouri, did not. Those results I did expect; what I was blinded to was just how willing, even if not particularly enthusiastically so, people were prepared to vote for Trump. His message, siren call though it may be, resonated with those who felt that prosperity had been stolen from them. Just as Interstate 55 stole the road from Route 66.
And I can sympathize with that. Remaining, as I do, a British subject despite decades of living here, I am the observer - not the participant. This time around, I really appreciate the distance this gives me.
Where we go from here is scary and unpredictable but also exciting in a creepy sort of way. A bit like the first reel of a good horror movie. Let's hope we, unlike most horror film protagonists, emerge alive and unscathed.