As ruined Democrats cast around for explanations, her campaign’s decisions have come under scrutiny.
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Why did Hillary Clinton shed last week’s presidential election? The candidate herself believes James Comey, the FBI director who educated Congress in one October 28 letter that he was reopening the inquiry into her exclusive emails, was to blame. Her campaign, meanwhile, has cited “a host of uncontrollable headwinds,” asserting the her team did every they could in an unforeseeably an overwhelming environment.
Many Democrats, however, are much less forgiving of the campaign and its strategy. It may be true the the Comey letter shaved a an essential few points turn off Clinton’s poll in the home stretch. But critics think a better campaign would have actually left her much less exposed to a last-minute surprise. If not for a series of miscalculations, these movie critics contend, the Comey letter wouldn’t have had actually the influence it did—and she might be president-elect today.
“I truly think she to be ahead two weeks out and also had a catastrophic last two weeks,” a senior operative because that an uncoordinated pro-Clinton effort, who spoke on condition of anonymity, called me. “But the she was even in a position to have been maybe to shed in the last 2 weeks was the an outcome of a lot of forces laid in place before that.”
Everything becomes clear in hindsight, that course, and also the Clinton team to be hardly alone in thinking it had the election in the bag—Trump’s project thought so, too. Yet devastated democrats have worked out on a grasp of decisions that, in retrospect, might have sealed her fate.
First, castle contend, Clinton require not have actually wholly ceded white working-class voter to Trump, who won castle by a bigger margin than Ronald Reagan in his 1984 landslide. Meanwhile, she fail to get young people and minorities—the too-aptly-named “Obama coalition”—excited around her candidacy. Both that those weaknesses, critics say, could be traced ago to a article that emphasized social diversity over financial fairness. And also the Clinton team overweening confidence blinded it to her weaknesses.
The postmortem dispute over Clinton’s loss is an ext than just finger-pointing—it has crucial implications for how the autonomous Party moves forward. Part partisans side v her team in blaming outside forces, from occasions like the Comey letter come the media’s coverage that the race. Others look at Clinton"s command going right into the final weeks, in a nation where most voters check out President Obama favorably, and also conclude that she blew an eminently winnable race. (A Clinton project official disputed numerous of these critiques come me, yet acknowledged the the extensive expectation she was going to win made it difficult for the campaign to watch weaknesses. The official likewise conceded the Clinton’s project underestimated the electorate’s desire because that change.)
How partisans decision to check out Clinton’s loss—as a fluke, as a tactical shortcoming, or together the product of depth issues—will determine how they effort to rebuild. For a party the finds itself decimated and also powerless at almost every level, those room consequential conclusions indeed.
Explanation No. 1: The white functioning class. trumped galvanized white voter without university degrees, particularly in the Rust Belt; Clinton’s team calculated the this bloc was a shed cause and could be ignored in favor of concentrating on she base and trying to guide white-collar voter she to be the less risky choice. Invoice Clinton supposedly agitated for the campaign to pay more attention come the “bubbas” that had once to be his base, just to be rebuffed by a campaign staff that thought his worldview was out of date.
Were these voter gettable? together Alec MacGillis reported, many blue-collar men voted for Barack Obama against John McCain and Mitt Romney due to the fact that they believed he far better related to your struggles. They did no think the same of Clinton, who invested the critical eight years becoming synonymous through the an international elite. The an outcome was that, when Obama won union families by 18 point out nationally, Clinton winner them by simply 8 points, and fared much worse in the midwestern claims that made decision the election. She lost rural voters by a 2-to-1 margin, again worse 보다 Obama.
Obama, in ~ his push conference Monday, argued versus the idea that Democrats have the right to afford to compose off any kind of group or an ar of voters, saying, “We have actually to compete everywhere. We have to show up everywhere. We have to work in ~ a grassroots level, other that"s to be a to run thread in mine career.” He won states choose Iowa, the chairman argued, due to the fact that he contended hard for your votes.
Clinton’s primary enemy echoed the theme: “I come indigenous the white functioning class,” Bernie Sanders tweeted on Monday, “and ns am deeply humiliated the the autonomous Party cannot speak to the human being where I came from.”
Meanwhile, Clinton’s single-minded focus on Republican-leaning college-educated white women intended she was reliant on soft assistance from a team that would certainly rather, all points being equal, poll for the Republican candidate. As soon as fresh doubt arose about Clinton, that team was all too prepared to paris the coop. “One that Clinton’s techniques was come appeal to moderate Republican ladies by showing how disgusting trumped is,” Joe Dinkin of the Working family members Party, a left-wing party the endorsed Sanders in the primaries yet worked for Clinton in the general election, said me. But, the said, “being a Republican voter way already having concerned terms v voting because that disgusting racists and sexists sometimes.”
Explanation No. 2: The “Obama coalition.” if Clinton’s project was concentrated on television declaring aimed at suburban totter voters, there to be ample warning signs that afri American and also Millennial voter weren’t influenced by she candidacy. Polls and focus teams showed young human being disliked both candidates; in interviews, black voters were unenthused. Yet Clinton’s campaign assumed they would show up for she simply because they were afraid of Trump.
Instead, plenty of of them refused to fall in line. Eight percent of afri American voter under 30 made decision a third-party candidate, as did 5 percent of Latinos under 30, according to an evaluation of the election results by the democratic pollster Cornell Belcher. This “protest votes,” he argued, were sufficient to seal Clinton’s fate, even though this year electorate was simply as diverse as 2012’s, and Trump did not execute any far better than Romney amongst young, decimal voters.
Clinton, Belcher said, agreed with these voter on the concerns they cared about, such as criminal justice and also police brutality, yet failed to with them effectively. The campaign ignored warnings from Belcher and also others, such together Florida Representative Alcee Hastings, the it no doing sufficient to reach the end to black color voters in particular.
The larger issue for the democratic Party is the the coalition of voter that elected Obama has actually never come the end to vote for Democrats as soon as Obama no atop the ticket. “These younger black and also brown voters who supported Obama were much more his voters 보다 Dem voters,” Belcher told me. “They had actually a more powerful allegiance to him 보다 a party, though plainly Dem in problem orientation.”
Explanation No. 3: The economic message. Bound increase in both the over problems, critics contend, was a project message that focused much more on society issues and embracing diversity—“stronger together,” “who us are”—than on themes of economic justice. “This
Clinton talked around taxing the rich, redistributing wealth, and also creating various new benefits, like paid family leave. Yet she seldom talked around jobs—a message that would have actually resonated through the working class of every races. She “America is already great” blog post didn’t bring far beyond the degree-rich elites who are without doubt doing fine these days, an especially against Trump’s article of right-wing financial populism. (The Clinton official competed that she campaigned strongly on the economy and listed that, according to departure polls, Clinton winner the bulk of voters who claimed the economic climate was the most important issue.)
Clinton also chose temperament together the key line that attack around Trump, painting him together erratic, unqualified, and also bigoted—“unfit,” in her terms—rather than as an out-of-touch rich guy who couldn’t understand constant people’s struggles. In my own conversations v African American voters, they were frequently bothered much less by Trump’s racism, i m sorry struck them together nothing new, than by his having inherited wealth and never having had to knife his position. Clinton might have believed she was too privileged herself to pull turn off an assault on Trump’s material circumstances, yet she enabled Trump to cast himself as a workingman’s candidate essentially unopposed.
Explanation No. 4: The machine. Clinton’s project was operation by the field-organizing guru Robby Mook, based upon the Obama version of data-driven ar organizing. The project hierarchy brushed off together “bedwetting” allies’ qualms about the paint-by-numbers strategy. As a DNC staffer told U.S. News & people Report, “They were too reliant top top analytics and not enough on instinct and also human intel indigenous the ground.” political consultants tend to evaluate the effect of project tactics, and also a good “ground game” is no substitute because that a movement’s organic zeal.
The Clinton machine’s supposedly specific targeting might not have actually been all it was cracked up to be: Two previous Sanders advisers contended in the Huffington Post the Clinton was unwittingly transforming out trumped supporters based upon their demographic profiles. And also her team’s emphasis on micro-messaging come at the price of thematic unity. As one more former Sanders adviser, Scott Goodstein, placed it, “No quantity of digital savvy will certainly take you throughout the end up line if girlfriend don’t have actually a message that resonates.... The Clinton campaign too often decided gimmicks over real heartfelt messages.”
Explanation No. 5: Arrogance.
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In one of his weirder and an ext imaginary riffs top top the stump, Trump claimed that when Clinton come off the trail to supposedly prepare for the debates, she was actually “sleeping,” insinuating without evidence that she was lazy and also frail. She wasn’t one of two people of those things, yet it was true that, even late in the campaign, she preserved a irradiate schedule, hold fewer events than her rival. This worried an elderly Democrats, that told me she appeared to be taking winning for granted fairly than fighting because that it.