While it’s fair to say that we, even in the political journalism business, have tried to move on from last November’s election, it is going to be chewed over for something like the next epoch. Why was Donald Trump elected? What did Hillary Clinton miss? What was her campaign thinking and how did she fumble an election all the pundits assumed was in the bag?
A Peachill creator (you can be one too) wants more answers than are currently available — particularly on the poll numbers and the campaign’s thinking as to why they didn’t spend more time in key places that swung toward Trump. We wholeheartedly agree that more can be done to fully explain this issue. Read more about this potential project and contribute as little as $1 to make it happen! (You won’t be charged if the project isn’t fully funded.)
One of the biggest questions that remains is why a campaign that spent $565 million failed to go to key states where she was favored to win but where polls hardly guaranteed victory. Why didn’t Hillary spend more time in places such as Wisconsin and Michigan? Would a different strategy in Pennsylvania or Florida helped her?
This topic has already been the subject of quite a bit of consternation and debate, including from Hillary herself.
In the end, Clinton was confident that she would win in the campaigns final days, according to the insider campaign account Shattered by Jonathan Allen and Aimee Parnes. “But while Hillary was measuring the drapes in the Oval Office her team was mis-measuring the electorate.”
A Peachill piece by an excellent independent journalist would seek to highlight the numbers as the Clinton campaign saw them; why they made the moves they did; and how much it mattered in the end result. Fund it today!
By way of background, here’s what we know so far. I’ll let y’all draw your own conclusions.
Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight sought to push back on the idea that the Clinton ground game cost her the election, relying on a statistical analysis that seems to show that a surge of white, non-college educated voters messed up the polls just enough for Clinton to lose.
More from Shattered. This references Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, FBI director James Comey and Elan Kriegel.
From p. 368: “Even when the numbers tightened following the Comey letter, they showed she still had a substantial edge in enough states to win the presidency comfortably. As had been the case throughout the campaign, Mook based nearly every spending decision and deployment of resources on Kriegel’s data. … organizers were frustrated that Mook wouldn’t provide basic resources like campaign literature so they could try to persuade voters to back HIllary …
In Michigan, the campaign feared that sending Hillary would actually backfire. [Ed note: Meaning, I believe, that Hillary knew she was so polarizing that drawing attention to herself would cause Trump supporters to be reinvigorated while she knew that she couldn’t rally her supporters].
“As she lost ground in the Rust Belt, the discussion among Hillary’s aides intensified. They weighed the risk of alerting the media and Trump to her vulnerability by changing her manifest. ‘We could have ripped up events from other places and then tried to throw together an event in [the Rust Belt], but then the press would have been like, ‘Oh my god, panic’ and that would have put bright lights around’ the state for Trump.”
“None of the complaints were new. Mook and his Moneyball approach to politics rankled the old order of poltiical operatives and consultants because it made some of theirwork obsolete. He had been fighitng that battle from the earliest days of the campaign, and he didn’t see any reason to change strategies and tactics that appeared to be working. Hillary was poised to win the presidency and to do it with a little bit of money left in the bank. … The memo that one Hillary adviser had sent months earlier warning that they should add three or four points to Trump’s poll position was a distant memory.
The early voting numbers in Florida were so good that even Bill Clinton, who had chafed at Brooklyn’s tendency to ignore his feel for politics on the ground, excitedly told one campaign aide the Friday before the election that the Sunshine State was in the bag.”
Hillary was supposed to go to Brown County, Wis., part of the Green Bay area, the authors write. It was just the kind of bellwether county where the Democratic nominee should have gone — full of the kind of working class voters Clinton needed to win over in places like this and a closely-contested swing county.
P. 245–247 takes on why the Clinton campaign didn’t go to Wisconsin head on. Clinton had been scheduled to go with then-President Obama.
“But she and Obama never made it there. Three days before they were set to visit, a twenty-nine-year-old security guard killed fourty-nine people at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlanda, Fla. … Hillary and Obama called off their rally in Green Bay, postponing their first big event until a more appropriate time. A big moment was again being stolen by events outside her control.”