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FiveThirtyEight: Donald Trump’s Inauguration Live

Welcome To The Trump Era

We’ll be liveblogging today’s inauguration from our New York office and from Washington, and we hope you’ll join us for the day. Before we get going on the Trump era, I thought I’d just offer a brief reflection on how quickly politics can change:

In January 1993, when Bill Clinton was inaugurated as president, George W. Bush was co-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team. Despite coming from a dynastic political family, Bush had never held elected office and his career was widely regarded as one of underachievement.

In January 2001, when George W. Bush was inaugurated as president, Barack Obama was state senator from Illinois who was teaching law school classes and who had just run a humiliating bid for the U.S. Congress, having lost the Democratic primary to incumbent Bobby Rush by 30 percentage points.

In January 2009, when Barack Obama was inaugurated as president, Donald Trump was … well, he was Donald Trump. He was the star of “The Apprentice,” and he was famous. But you’d have been laughed at if you’d predicted he’d become president eight years later.

Not only would you have had trouble predicting these presidents’ successors, however, but you’d probably also have been totally surprised by some of the events that came to define these presidents’ tenures, from the internet-backed economic boom of the 1990s to the Sept. 11 terror attacks to Brexit.

This is just a reminder to consider a wide range of possibilities for how the next few years — and even the next few weeks — will unfold. If you’re not a fan of Trump, then the downside cases might be every bit as bad as you fear, but the upside is probably higher than you think. And if you’re certain that Trump is going to Make America Great Again, consider that he’s undertaking what is probably the most difficult job in the world and that many presidents who entered office with more political experience and more popularity than Trump found themselves out of their depth in their first few months on the job.

Today’s festivities might stick to the script — or maybe not — but it’s a safe bet that the Trump era will surprise you.