By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
In the first part of this two-part series, we looked at two methods of constructing narratives around political campaigns — the poll-driven “horse race,” and gaming out the electoral college — and concluded that although these methods were good for humanities majors, revealing as they are of all that is human, they have limited predictive or explanatory value. In this post, I will present an alternative analytical method based on Eliot A. Cohen and John Gooch’s wonderful Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War. The Clinton campaign was a cascade of multiple pathways to misfortune. So you can see a sample of their method, here is the introduction to their chapter on “Catastropic Failure: The French Army and Air Force, May-June 1940.
And here is their “matrix of failure:”:
(NOTE: This is not a post on the Battle of France, so please confine your remarks on Cohen and Gooch to issues of historiography or method.)
And here is my matrix of failure for the Clinton Campaign (and let me caveat that I’m sorry my matrix is more complicated than that which describes the Fall of France but I’m not a professional historian, I’m too close to the subject matter, and heck — maybe 2016 is that complicated!
You’ll notice right away that the “command levels” I used (“Establishment,” “Party,” “Campaign,” “State,” “County”) are similar to Military Misfortune‘s (“High Commend,” “Theatre Command,” “Operational Commands,” and “Tactical Commands”) They call them political campaigns for a reason! However, the functions are different (although you can certainly see the similarity between the French high command’s “Image of Future War,” and the Democrat Party’s “Obama Coaliton”). However, the conventions I used are a little different from the conventions Cohen and Gooch used, so let me explain them: Systems on pathways to misfortune are boxes; arrows between boxes represent causation or pathways. Primary or critical pathways and systems are bolded; others are grey.
The matrix I present identifies six pathways to misfortune for the Clinton campaign, two of which are primary or critical. They are:
- The Democrat Establishment
- Clinton’s “Deplorables” Gaffe
- Clinton Repels the Left
- “It’s The Economy, Stupid!”
- Voter Registration and Turnout Failure
- The Undecideds Break for Trump
(I’ve labeled the starting point for each pathway on the matrix with a red letter, like “(A).” I’m not discussing the critical pathways first, because it’s easier to show the how the matrix works by starting out with simpler cases.) Hilariously, the professionals of the Clinton campaign have yet to produce a matrix of failure all on their own:
Unable to get closure on the party’s stunning losses in November, nearly 20 Democratic interest groups, operatives, and state committees have commissioned their own private 2016 election autopsy reports.
The projects, which aim to diagnose the party’s ills and pave a path forward, are designed in part to
While Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook and members of his team have been privately presenting their own findings to Clinton and other influential party figures, the absence of a full, public accounting of the factors and forces underlying her shocking loss has generated a cottage industry of projects dedicated to explaining and understanding how things went so wrong for the party in November.
So I’m doing my little bit to help out, here. (Also, if the work were easy — or more precisely, easy to hear — some Democratic strategist would already have done it, and billed for it. Which is my excuse for this post being both longer, and later, than it should be.)
Pathway (A): The Democrat Establishment
Cohen and Gooch were no doubt wise to rule the civilian vs. military politics in the late Third Republic out of scope in their matrix of failure; but I felt I needed to embed the Democrat Party within its larger “Establishment.” It’s worth noting that none of the other functional characteristics of the Democrat Party — the Third Way combination of identity politics with neoliberalism’s TINA, Obama’s management of the economy, the focus on “50% plus one”/swing state electoral strategies as opposed to enduring national coalitions driven by the provision of universal programs that provide concrete material benefits to everyone, especially the working class, as well as the dominant role played by party insider Superdelegates in picking the nominee — none of these characteristics, I say, would exist if Democrat Party funders had not wanted them to be exactly as they are. The Establishment standing up and then electing
Ellison Perez as DNC chair shows this quite clearly; as does the systematic erasure from the discourse of Sanders’ proven ability to run a national campaign without depending on large contributors at all. Every pathway to misfortune, then, that begins at the Establishment level is also a failure by large contributors who dominate and structure that Establishment. So either big Democrat donors are lighting their money on fire and throwing it up in the air, or they’re paying the Washington Generals Democrats to lose. Or both!
Pathway (B): Clinton’s “Deplorables” Gaffe
The rich are different: They give more money to politicians. And the rich also expect to have the so-gifted politicians explain what they are going to do to the money; how they will provide their investors with a return by getting the canaille to vote for them. Hence it’s not surprising that Clinton’s “deplorables” gaffe, Romney’s “47%” gaffe, and Obama’s “bitter”/”cling to” gaffe all occurred at fundraisers; in each case, the politician was sharing their unique insights on voter behavior with funders. So, here the pathway runs from the large contributors, who established the context for the gaffes to take place — enclaves like the Hamptons, celebrity compounds like George Clooney’s — to its effect on voters.
I’ve divided effects on voters generally into two categories: Affirmatively Repelled (“AR”), and Failure to Turn Out (“FT”), and it’s clear that some voters were affirmatively repelled by Clinton’s remarks (and it’s rather remarkable how many categories of voters the Clinton campaign affirmatively repelled). However, it’s not clear how many were; there’s no county data that I know of which suggests people who would previously have voted for Clinton shifted to Trump because they felt Clinton called them “deplorable.” So the effect is in the zeitgeist; real, but not quantifiable. In other words, this pathway is secondary not primary. Clinton no doubt lost some votes, but we don’t know how many, or where.
Pathway (C): Clinton Repels the Left
Here too, we have the Clinton Campaign affirmatively repelling voters: Sanders voters and the left generally. Democrats tend not to allocate money to voters they think they own, and that includes the left; the feeling is that “they have no place to go.” Two pathways meet in this failure: First, Clintonian incrementalist messaging (“Never, ever” single payer, for example) repels the left; how does one devolve to supporting ObamaCare when Medicare for All was, however briefly, on the table? Second, the Clinton campaign combined its own micro-aggression with a fact-free version of identity politics to come up with #BernieBros, which they then freely applied to all Sanders supporters (and they’re still doing it). And then there was the Democratic National Convention. I suppose you can expect to smear your opponents like that in a primary and then claim their vote in the general if, indeed, “they have no place to go,” but this year, the left did have places to go: third parties, and write-ins. Here again, we have a zeitgeist effect, and a seconday, not primary pathway. It’s clear Clinton affirmatively repelled some left voters, but we don’t know how many, or where.
CRITICAL Pathway (D): “It’s The Economy, Stupid!”
WaPo does a little post mortem-ing of its own. From November 9:
Donald Trump is the president-elect of the United States of America, and he did it by completely blowing up the electoral map and all of our projections and expectations of it.
- Trump won his “must-win” states of Ohio, Florida and North Carolina in races that were called on Tuesday night.
- He won his other apparent “must-win” state, blue-leaning swing state Pennsylvania, which was called for Trump early Wednesday morning.
- Not stopping there, he won at least one and possibly two states in which he didn’t even campaign until the final week of the 2016 election: Michigan and Wisconsin. These, like Pennsylvania, are states that have long eluded the GOP’s grasp and didn’t seem likely to be winnable for Trump.
All of this disproves the idea, which we and everyone else have espoused early and often, that Trump’s path to victory was narrow. It wasn’t. It was broad. We were wrong. The polls were wrong. We fundamentally misunderstood this election. We thought Hillary Clinton might be winning red states. But Donald Trump won blue states.
What happened? WaPo has the answer for that as well: Counties that voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, but flipped to Trump in 2016, gave Trump victory in the electoral college. First, I’ll present data supporting that claim. Next, I’ll present the county data, state-by-state, that explains this critical pathway to misfortune. Then I’ll summarize the pathway to misfortune. WaPo has a handy map of flipping counties:
WaPo describes the implications:
The Obama-Trump counties were critical in delivering electoral victories for Trump. Many of them fall in states that supported Obama in 2012, but Trump in 2016. In all, these flipped states accounted for 83 electoral votes. (Michigan and New Hampshire could add to this total, but their results were not finalized as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.)
In other words, losing these states was a primary, critical path to failure by the Clinton campaign. (And note that while there are probably plenty of racists in these counties — like everywhere in American, including coastal enclaves — they voted twice for a Black man to be President.)
Let’s look at each state in turn.
Obama won Pennsylania in 2008 and 2012. Clinton lost Pennsylania in 2016. From Billy Penn, “How Donald Trump won Pennsylvania, then the White House”:
For the first time since 1988, Pennsylvania has elected a Republican presidential candidate despite a Democratic voter registration advantage of nearly a million people. With more than 99 percent of returns in, Trump has carried the state by about a percentage point and more than 60,000 votes.
Why? There are a few reasons — the main one being that the places in Pennsylvania that have historically mattered just didn’t this year. The Philadelphia suburbs were not the difference-maker. Instead, it was Trump’s utter clean-up in southwest Pennsylvania and his ability to flip several counties that went blue in 2012. Several Pennsylvania counties that went blue in 2012 for Obama flipped to red this year. For example, Trump hugely flipped Luzerne County in northeastern Pa., which elected Obama by 12,000 votes and five points in 2012. This year, Trump won the county by a stunning 20 points and 25,000 votes…. Obama didn’t win the counties outside Pittsburgh in 2012. But Clinton was crushed there. Look at Greene County, for example, which went 58 percent to 40 percent in favor of Romney in 2012. This year? It went 69 percent to 27 percent in favor of Trump.
More on Luzerne County:
Like many Americans in 2016, the voters in Luzerne County say they want change. They want lower insurance premiums, an end to illegal immigration and better jobs than those that involve a graveyard shift walking miles on the concrete floor of a cavernous warehouse. More than one in five Luzerne County families with kids live in poverty—5 percentage points over the state average, and 9 points higher than in 2000. Per capita income hovers under $25,000, about $4,500 less than the state average, and unemployment tops 6 percent—also over the state and national rates. Since 2009, the number of manufacturing jobs has dropped by 10 percent, and retail jobs have climbed by 8 percent. “People perceive themselves as worse off,” says Thomas Baldino, a political science professor at Wilkes University in Luzerne County.
As I keep saying about the flyover states: It’s bad out there. “America is already great” is just not a message that resonates.
Obama won Ohio in 2008 and 2012. Clinton lost Ohio in 2016. From Cincinnati.com, “How Donald Trump won Ohio”:
Clinton did worse than Obama in all but two Ohio counties, Hamilton and Delaware. And she did better in those by only razor-thin margins.
Even in some of the few counties she won, Clinton missed out on thousands of votes she couldn’t afford to lose, because voters didn’t turn out, opted for third-party candidates or voted for Trump instead.
In Mahoning County, an industrial center that’s been declining since the 1970s, Clinton took 50 percent of the vote to Trump’s 47 percent. Obama won the county with almost 64 percent of the vote four years ago.
The trend played out across Ohio, especially in the north. Lorain County, just west of Cleveland, went for Obama by 15 points in 2012, but Trump flipped the county to his column with a narrow win.
More on Mahoning County (Youngstown) from Chris Arnade, “Outside coastal cities an ‘other America’ has different values and challenges”:
Anthony Rice’s house in Youngstown, Ohio is a mile away from a river valley once filled with factories offering jobs. Many of those left in the 1980s, and with them, many residents. His home is one of the few occupied on the street. Empty lots or boarded-up homes make up most of the block. … The road itself is a patchwork of potholes. “This street hasn’t been paved in like forever. They just don’t care about us. But we used to that.” Did Trump’s win surprise him? “No. Obama promised a lot and only a little came of it. Maybe New York City got delivered promises. This street here is still filled with homes falling down.”
It’s bad out there.
Obama won Michigan in 2008 and 2012. Clinton lost Michigan in 2016. From The Detroit News, “Trump flipped 12 counties to win Michigan”:
Twelve counties that voted for Obama in 2012 instead went for Trump Tuesday night. They included Bay, Eaton, Macomb, Monroe and Saginaw counties.
Trump far out-performed historical averages for Republicans in rural areas. The 70-year-old real estate developer received nearly 70 percent of the vote in Montmorency, Kalkaska and Osceola counties, for instance, more than 10 percentage points more than Republican and Michigan native Romney in 2012.
A close look at the number reveals that Trump won Michigan the same way he won Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania — by way over-performing in working-class communities, which was enough to offset Clinton votes in the urban and surburban corridors.
Obama won Wisconsin in 2008 and 2012. Clinton lost Wisconsin in 2016. From the Journal-Sentinel, “Difference-makers in Trump’s Wisconsin win”:
Trump won 22 counties Obama carried four years ago, 18 of them rural.
Much more than others, those voters disapproved of Obama, disdained Clinton and viewed the economy bleakly.
As a group, they weren’t in love with Trump.
Half of “non-college whites” in Wisconsin — Trump’s demographic base — had an unfavorable opinion of him, according to exit poll data provided by Edison Research.
But of those blue-collar voters who didn’t like Trump, almost a third (29%) voted for him.
Blue-collar swing: Whites without college degrees are roughly half the electorate in Wisconsin. Romney won them by 8 last time. Trump won them by 28 this time.
[Edison Research] that showed that “non-college” whites:
- Were far more negative than other voters toward Clinton (68% had a negative opinion of her).
- Had a bleaker view of the economy (67% called it not so good or poor).
- Were much more negative about trade with other countries (61% said it takes away jobs).
- Were more negative about immigration (45% said immigrants do more to hurt the country than help).
- Many voters who had qualms about Trump set them aside. They didn’t do so in Clinton’s case. Those who had objections to both broke by large margins for Trump, the “change candidate.”
“A lot of those people feel like they got left out of the recovery. Trump really spoke to them,” said GOP Gov. Scott Walker.
Dave Obey, who was a Democratic congressman from Wausau for four decades, said that for a lot of workers, “Wisconsin has been slipping for a long time…they’re desperate enough to try anything. And Trump is anything.”
So Republican Walker and Democrat Obey agree…
Obama won Iowa in 2008 and 2012. Clinton lost Iowa in 2016. From the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, “Clinton Drops 32 Iowa Counties Obama Won In 2012”:
The loss of 32 Iowa counties that voted Democratic in 2012 gave the Republican nominee Donald Trump the state’s six electoral votes.
While Barack Obama was able to win the state with 38 counties in 2012, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton claimed just six, an IowaWatch review of the Tuesday’s preliminary vote shows.
Here’s Clinton campaigning in Cerro Gordo County, which Obama won in 2008 and 2012, and Trump won. From the Boston Globe, May 22, 2015:
There is a drumbeat growing in both parties that could move the highly personal, painful matter of heroin and opioid drug addiction, which has metastasized into an epidemic, higher on the national agenda than at any time since the rampant crack crisis more than two decades ago.
On Monday in Mason City, Iowa, Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed drug abuse before she commented publicly on the Trans-Pacific trade deal, one of the central economic policy questions of the day. Calling it a “below the surface” issue, Clinton said she was “now convinced” that she needed to talk about it on the trail.
One Clinton campaign aide told the Globe that hearing about meth in Iowa and heroin in New Hampshire had prompted Clinton to ask her policy team to begin working on what she has previously called a “quiet epidemic.”
Gee, that never did happen, did it? I guess that’s because deaths in the flyover states don’t, well, matter.
“It’s the economy, stupid!” was, of course, the catchphrase James Carville used to keep his campaign team focused in the 1992 election that first elected Clinton. So, it’s ironic that the Clinton campaign of 2016 forgot Carville’s motto, but the matrix of failure shows us why. The Clinton campaign faced a fundamental contradiction. On the one hand, they were deeply committed (personally, and by their funders) to the idea of TINA: There Is No Alternative to the (neoliberal, austeritian) policies practiced by Democrats. On the other, they had to run on Obama’s record, which to voters in the flyover states just wasn’t that great, as the quotes above, many reports, and your own eyes (if you live in one, as I do) show. Obama’s economic record includes job creation exclusively in part-time, precarious jobs (see the comment on warehouse jobs from Pennsylvania). Obama’s tenure has been marked by rising mortality rates, an AIDS-level epidemic of excess “deaths from despair” due in part to an opioid epidemic. These are all economic issues, and Obama’s record is terrible. Clinton attempted to wriggle out of the contradiction in two ways: First, she began by proferring incremental changes and endless bullet points, and then shifted to focusing on Trump’s flaws as a candidate and a man. In either case, it was crystal clear she had no sense of how bad it was out there, or any real idea of what to do (unlike Sanders, who explicitly framed his program as an economic one). Trump’s slogan: “Make American Great Again.” Clinton’s riposte: “America is already great!” Really? The counties that voted for “hope and change” in 2008, and gave Obama a second chance in 2012, weren’t buying it, nor should they have. They decided to vote for “change” again in 2016. And why wouldn’t they?
CRITICAL Pathway (E): Voter Registration and Turnout Failure
Turnout failure is often framed as voter suppression, and Republicans are blamed. Salon, in one example of many:
Voting in the U.S. isn’t equal for all groups. Black voters, who are often concentrated heavily in inner-city areas, are forced to endure the nation’s longest lines, ones that may discourage them from voting altogether. A study from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies showed that black voters wait twice as long as white people to cast a ballot, with the longest wait times being in South Carolina, Florida and Maryland. Harvard researcher Stephen Pettigrew found that African-Americans were six times more likely than members of demographic groups to spend more than an hour in line in order to vote.
Part of the problem is the resources allotted to polling places in predominantly black communities. Those districts have fewer poll workers to assist voters and guide them through the process and have fewer voting machines on hand to process voters in a timely manner.
I agree, but the truth is very partial. I think the pathway to low voter turnout begins with the Establishment, who have never made voter registration a core party function, something that goes on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. (Instead, it’s done by the campaign when some squillionaire can be induced to spend some money registering a protected group.) Restoring the franchise isn’t a matter of more voting machines or polling places; it begins with political clout. And the only way to do that is to get voters registered. Yes, that would cost moeny. Maybe next time the Democrats have a billion bucks, they can put some of it to this use, instead of jamming it down the toilet of the next Clinton campaign, and flushing.
What is true for blacks is true for Hispanics. In Florida:
Hillary Clinton won 66% of Latino voters on Election Day, according to updated National Election Pool exit poll data, a level of Democratic support similar to 2008, when 67% of Hispanics backed Barack Obama. However, Clinton’s share of the Latino vote was lower than in 2012, when 71% of Latinos voted to re-elect Obama. (This year’s Latino voter turnout, which has historically trailed other groups, won’t be known until sometime in 2017 when the U.S. Census Bureau publishes its report on U.S. voting.)
“[H[istorically trailed”? What kind of alibi is that? The Democrats had sixteen years to get serious about expanding their voter base; that’s how long it’s been since Jebbie tried to steal Florida for his little brother by purging the voter rolls of Black people.
Anyhow, Obama won Florida in 2008 and 2012. Clinton lost Florida in 2016. From the Orlando Sentinel:
Clinton had lots of support in Florida: 4.5 million votes. And she did better than President Barack Obama did in Florida when he won re-election in 2012, increasing his total by 5.9 percent.
But Trump did even better at improving on Republican Mitt Romney’s 2012 performance. Trump’s 4.6 million votes was 10.6 percent higher than Romney’s total.
“She came pretty close to wining Florida,” said Robin Rorapaugh, a Democratic Party political consultant from Hollywood who’s run multiple statewide campaigns in Florida and was Texas state director for Bill Clinton in 1992, the year he first won the presidency. “She was massacred in smaller counties up and down the Panhandle and in Central Florida.”
Clinton won just nine of the state’s 67 counties, including the five largest. Rorapaugh said the map clearly shows Clinton failed at “holding together the Obama coalition and the absolute hunger to burn down the house in so many small communities in Florida was exhibited at the ballot box.”
The three most populous counties in the state — Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade — gave Clinton a big victory. She had a margin of 678,000 votes over Trump in South Florida.
“South Florida performed very well,” Rorapaugh said. “Democrats turned out. They turned out in large numbers and gave her large margins.” But not large enough to offset Trump’s surge elsewhere in the state.
So Florida is not a flipping counties story. As it turns out, Trump out-organized Clinton:
But in the rural and “exurban” counties – including Lake, Marion, Volusia, Brevard and especially Hernando and Citrus outside Tampa – Trump exceeded Romney’s 2012 numbers by the tens of thousands, allowing him to pull ahead of Clinton in Florida by more than 100,000 votes.
[Josh Kivett, the Republican National Committee’s Southeast regional political director] said the key was the RNC’s strategy of dividing Florida into 254 unique “turfs,” each staffed by people with real knowledge of those communities.
Florida is a “rural votes” story, but it’s also a story of Clinton not increasing Black and Hispanic voters enough. And to me, that’s a voter registration story.
Pathway (F): The Undecideds Break for Trump
Trump won big among voters who decided at the last moment. FiveThirtyEight:
In all, Trump picked up 4.0 percentage points among people who hadn’t been with him in mid-October, and shed just 1.7 percentage points for a net gain of 2.3 points. Clinton picked up a smaller fraction — 2.3 points — and shed 4.0 points for a net loss of 1.7 points. That’s certainly consistent with Trump gaining steam in the race’s final weeks.
As to why Trump gained steam, the ObamaCare rate hike seems not to have shown up in the numbers, and of course there is the Comey letter (“4 pieces of evidence showing FBI Director James Comey cost Clinton the election”). But to me, that’s too short a pathway; it’s like saying the German’s won the Battle of France because the Belgians didn’t block the roads in the Ardennes; I view the Comey letter as the last pebble in an avalanche of fail. Follow the chain upwards. Why was the letter so damaging? Because it reinforced existing perceptions about Clinton. Why did those perceptions exist? Because of Clinton’s own behavior: Nobody forced Clinton to privatize her email server! Why was Clinton’s behavior so damaging? Because twenty years of strategic hate management by conservatives (some based on truth, but by no means all or even most) provided a narrative that fit the facts of the case. Why was such a risky candidate nominated? Because the Democrat Establishment wanted her (“the party decides”). A narrative like “… cost Clinton the election” is just a little simple-minded, surely?
I hope the matrix of failure is a useful tool; I enjoyed fitting as much as possible of what I remember happening into it’s framework. To me, though, the election turned out to be pretty simple:
1) “It’s the economy, stupid!”, and
2) “Change vs. more of the same”
Clinton was the “more of the same” candidate in a change year when the economy was the issue. That’s why the Obama counties flipped. So she lost! Oh, and you can argue that zeitgeist issues like the Comey letter “lost Clinton the election.” But arguments like that depend on national polling. What you’ve got to do is show that your zeitgeist issue of choice would unflip the Obama counties that went for Trump. Seems unlikely.
This post slipped out a few minutes early, if a post so sprawling can be said to slip. Sorry about that, It’s all here now.
 I might also have added an additional secondary pathway from “identity politics” and “microaggression” to “deplorables.” I didn’t, because Romney committed the same sort of gaffe, and he’s not ideologically committed to identity politics in the way that the Democrats are.
 The difference in votes between two candidates must always depend on how many voted, and how many did not vote; it’s like an accounting identity. So explanations like “Low voter turnout in a few key states may have helped Donald Trump” or “Rustbelt Catholics Voters Put Trump over the Top” are necessarily partial. As it turns out, in this post there are two complementary pathways to misfortune: (d), “the economy” flipping votes to Trump, and (e) lack of voter registration leading to a voter turnout fail.
 It’s not enough to show that Green Party vote totals; the issue is how many Green voters were repelled by Clinton, and what difference did that make? If there is data on this, I haven’t seen it. See the final paragraphs in this Billy Penn story, for example.
 This could even have reinforced Trump’s appeal: “If she hates him that much, he could be OK!”
Lambert, I think you mean Perez. [Unless this is an Oscar moment.]
You should get paid big bucks for this analysis. Dems are stupid not to utilize it.
There’s a reason they don’t have their own analysis: it would tell the world, and their funders, who was responsible.. And those people don’t want that to happen.
I did mean Perez, thanks, fixed.
This is the second 180°-wrong substitution I’ve made in this series, but I can only plead the pressure of time in dealing with a truly enormous subject!
I think I’ll do a followup post tying up any loose ends and giving the failure matrix another work out. I never did get to FT Blacks (economics; examples in Philly and Detroit) or FT Hispanics (apparently rural Hispanics are more like other rural voters than they are like urban Hispanics*, which is a nice controlled test for identity politics, come to think about it. I should also look at the suburban women Clinton thought she would win over and didn’t (Philadelphia again).
* As if Cubans and Mexicans were the same. Democrats are so, so dumb. Who knew that because people have the same skin color (more or less) and language (more or less) that they aren’t necessarily the same, and don’t necessarily have the same values and interests? [slaps forehead].
It’s not fixed–I just read it and it says Ellison still.
Most of the typos are obvious typos, but that one had me confused, because some establishment types like Schumer did support Ellison.
Well per the play The Spelling Bee, definition of “Mexican” is someone from the Dominican Republican, Puerto Rico, Honduras, etc. My wife and I quote this to each other all the time when we hear the adjective “Mexican” thrown around here. E.g. The top notch team of Mexicans who repiped houses in our neighborhood were brothers who came to US from Nicaragua.
Agree with overall point you make but…I’d quote to you on this subject from a Cuban woman I dated at one time, but this is a family space. Short version: residents of Cuba (and Mexico) exist in not insignificant number who have blond hair or red hair, green or blue eyes.
I like the comparison to the Battle of France. If there was one over-arching theme of that battle, it was that the Germans were audacious, and the Allies didn’t properly anticipate the situation, and that’s one of the reasons they couldn’t adapt. The Allies should have won, and they knew it. They just forgot that real wars often aren’t won by the side that should.
That’s the basic theme of the 2016 Presidential election, too. Leaders who are fool enough to brush aside any facts that disagree with their view of the world are dangerous to those they lead.
Good analysis of Democratic failures, BTW. Like the previous commenter, I think the Dems should read and think about it carefully. I doubt they will, though. Nothing about Dem leadership has changed since November.
March 7, 2017 at 6:28 pm
And don’t forget the Pervitin! Nothing puts the blitz in your blitzkrieg like a fist full of amphetamines! It is interesting that both of these failure matrices have a spot for drugs!
The Allies in 1939-40 were fighting the last war. I think that as a Dem2016 analogue is spot on.
A WW2 analogue for Trump would be Guadalcanal.
This is an excellent analysis of the last election. What changed between 2012 and 2016 was that Wall Street Mitt Romney is the problem and Donald Trump promised to help working America. Hillary Clinton has way too much baggage; 1) throwing mid-America under the bus, 2) the migrant influx, 3) Libya, Syria and the restart of the Cold War with Russia, and 4) the collapse due to illness.
All of the issues that originated in the late 1970’s have come home to roost. We are even getting to watch a replay of Watergate. Since Globalists have no intention of redistribution of their wealth which is the way to provide meaningful number of new American jobs; a soft coup is underway to make sure that the President resigns and that Mike Pence is elevated.
Perhaps you meant “Iowa” in that second sentence?
Iowa is.more republican than Wisconsin.
So the Democrat’s went from winning republican states to losing Democrat ones with clinton.
Although Wisconsin is.more republican then it used to be.
Clinton came closer to winning Texas than Iowa.
I did, thanks. These sentences should have been parallel, so I used the copy-and-paste method, and then butchered the template…
As above, I can only plead the effects of jamming a book-length topic into a post under pressure of time…
tom glavine, game 162, 2007…I was in greece and the mets were so far in front, I did not bother keeping up…as I got to the airport for my flight back to the states, there it was…they had somehow pulled off one of the biggest flops in modern baseball history…
$hillary crowned herself queen in april 2015…she “fixxxed” everything…it was going to be a cakewalk…bernie probably was not running to win, but when it became obvious she had a romanov on womans day level of support, he went for it, and she had to pull every criminal act against voting rights she could come up with to hold him off…a non democrat…
Trump was the second non-candidate who could not possibly pull it off…one would be hard pressed to convince me he had any intentions other than to sell another book and get a billion dollars in free enough publicity…but when all the candidates in the republican party did their keystone kops routine, he walked through the open door…
and when $hillary decided her “algoz” had her winning hands down, she became grumpy when Trump made her work a little…and when she fumbled, he picked up the ball on his shoelaces ala franco harris and went on to win his superbowl…
never give in, never give up…many a champion has been announced in spring training, and many a defeated army has laughed off an “inferior” foe…
winning against all reasonable odds is the american way…a nation of left overs, throw aways, refugees, slaves, morganatics, indentured servants, second rate squirts, and all around underdogs…fleeing criminals and privateers turned pirates…bootleggers, tax dodgers, and copyright fleeing freebooters…thugs, mobsters, cheaters, and all around corner cutters…the bad news bears….
> many a champion has been announced in spring training
Of course, “Buckner lets ground ball roll through his legs” is a “man in the dock” theory….
Never give in, never give up…mookie wilson, lenny dykstra, wally backman…all 4a ballplayers…all overachievers, all too stupid to know they were not good enough to be sitting on a major league team in a major league uniform…
Buckner flinched because mookie never ever walked to first base…always, always, always, ran out an at bat full speed…always…and the pitcher was slow to first base…if you actually watch the video and slow it down…it was the pitchers fault…he didn’t break fast enough and wilson out ran him to first, forcing buckner to have to try to scoop it up with his gimp leg and think about not throwing, but diving to first…buckner is too much of a man not to take the blame for stanley…ray knight would have scored anyway as he was running full guns in typical mets 1986 fashion with two outs…
To the victor go the history books…or the better publicists…bob stanley got done in by the superior greek mind of mookie wilson…wild pitch in the at bat scored on run moving knight to second…if mookie had just taken the hit by pitch, the red sox probably win…the mets needed two runs and mookie delivered…bob stanley messed up but his publicist…or I should say, his cowardice in not ever taking the blame and letting it fall on buckner….
Actually sounds familiar doesnt it…
Took a while for it to register….you nailed it….bob stanley his hillary and the democrap insiders…
Will roll back the narrative a bit…billy picks up ball, ray knight was not running full speed…does not score…just finished reliving the moment…darn rudetube has various videos…still bob stanley as hillary and dumbokraps is probably a fairly good analogy…billy buckner as putin…
Oh, my! This brings back memories of my working days when I used to use Root Cause Analyses to determine why an incident or accident happened. That system was very effective at systematically finding all of the different items that led to an incident or an accident and understanding where the critical failures occurred and why.
I’m surprised that this kind of Root Cause Analyses wasn’t applied before…….but to tell you the truth, even though I’ve worked with Root Cause Analyses a lot in my career, it never would have occurred to me to apply it to politics…..
Kudos to you Lambert, for making the connection!
You want voter suppression?
Who gave us the 1994 Crime Bill?
The message Clinton pushed was BOHICA, learn to like it.
And given the choice between BOHICA and a vulgar con man who promised change we got Trump.
I wrote in Sanders because I was very familiar with Clinton’s record and and would not vote for someone who makes it clear that they are corrupt, incompetent and racist.
If the Democratic Party wants to win some offices they need to start providing the political goods.
“We spit on it first, sometimes” doesn’t resonate with the populace in a positive way.
> Who gave us the 1994 Crime Bill?
The pathway here being that felons are disenfranchised, that bill increased the numbers, and those disenfranchised as felons are disproportionately black.
Was actually just looking into this. The Sentencing Project has the numbers if your interested: 6.1 million Americans disenfranchised due to felony convictions. 1 in 13 African Americans disenfranchised due to felonies compared to 1 in 56 for non-African Americans. Lots of very interesting (and incredibly depressing) statistics and analysis.
All that, and he never did get his racist white brethren to return to the Democratic Party.
I’m sure he and Hill manage to assuage their disappointment in their various mansions while reviewing their numerous bank accounts with their many subordinates, though.
I know I’m chiming in late (and at the bottom of an uncivil comment, to boot) but I appreciated this piece a lot. It seems to me that the crux of the matter if you’re a Democratic donor or operative is were those Obama-to-Trump counties holdable? The Clinton team’s excuse (Comey! Because Russia!) would only have a shred of validity if they had solid evidence (like, internal polls that also corresponded with election day) that most of those counties were going to Clinton through the middle of October. I didn’t see any evidence of that in the piece, and I haven’t read anything like that anywhere else, either. I don’t think that would be dispositive, as per your point that people were already primed to weigh seriously information that Clinton was dishonest and corrupt because of her many decades of being dishonest and corrupt. But without such evidence, they don’t even have step one of being able to prove their claims.
It’s a really interesting problem to solve, if you separate out all the profound consequences. Her campaign seems to have been extremely incompetent in several ways, but it’s also possible that none of that mattered in terms of the outcome. It may be the case that after Obama governed the way he did, picking Clinton guaranteed a loss, and all their crazy-seeming actions flowed from their being essentially extremely well-paid rats trying to escape a maze with no out slot.
The total votes she needed in the handful of swing states with razor thin margins that she lost is so tiny, compared to the overall electorate. Yet the number of Obama counties that flipped is not tiny, and there are so many other counties where either she won but her margins were way down or she lost by a much larger margin which cost her the state. What if there just were no more votes to find for the status quo candidate, no matter how the campaign operated?
> all their crazy-seeming actions flowed from their being essentially extremely well-paid rats trying to escape a maze with no out slot.
My metaphor is this: The Democrat Party has an immune disorder: It can’t talk about “economics,” meaning it has no defense against the ills of neoliberal life outside the coastal and class enclaves of its base.
The immune disorder is the primary pathway, and that’s why the counties flipped. All the other stuff — Comey, weird TV advertising decisions, “deplorables” — are secondary pathways. They’re like opportunistic infections. If it hadn’t been Comey, it would have been something else (and in fact, if you look carefully, there always is something else; ObamaCare rate hikes were drowned out in the Comey noise, for example).
Yes. That’s better than mine. Agree about the rate hikes and why they might not have showed up explicitly in the polling.
I’d like that data, though — about the counties and their potential to be held by Clinton under any circumstances. Having said starting in the Spring that she’d only win if she could steal in swing states controlled by the Kochs, it’s fun to pat myself on the back for being right. But I’d like to avoid being smug. I remind myself regularly that the margin was very thin in those lost, crucial states. If you focus on just that number, it seems so close. It is possible that just feeding the ground organizer data into Ada would have changed the campaign enough to change the outcome? I don’t think so, but then, I don’t want to think so. I want to believe I was right all along.
The difference between me and Democratic leadership is, I’d actually like to know the truth.
I haven’t seen any such data. AFAIK, the exit polls are still coming out.
A fine article! Superb work!
By the way, the Green candidate finished fourth, and there was a candidate who finished third.
> the Green candidate finished fourth, and there was a candidate who finished third.
This would surely depend on the states. Another thing I didn’t get to was GP votes in Wisconsin; apparently they had effects at the margin, in a “last pebble in the avalanche” sort of way.
Here in Hawaii the Libertarian and Constitution parties (who presumably drew votes away from Trump) got more votes than the Green Party (a combined 4.6% vs 2.9%). So the idea that third parties hurt Clinton certainly isn’t true across the board.
No, I think it totally depends on state context (and nobody wants to do that work, apparently).
Prodigious. But I am not sure who the audience for the analysis might be. Blue Dogs won’t listen, and NC crowd is mostly convinced. But prodigious.
Imho your talents are needed elsewhere. Who can we make Governor of Maine?
One small quibble on the identity politics thing. I agree it is used as a cheap gimmick to chase votes without offering benefits or justice. So I think we agree.
On the other hand, I think you would agree with me that cultural identity is important to the way people perceive the world and perceive political messages. Tribal loyalty always drives a lot of politics. Anyway, I think we agree on that. So my quibble is that identity politics is not only a scam. It is also a factor that one must keep in mind while trying to fashion a convincing message.
Just because I’m a good analyst doesn’t mean I’d be a good executive; look at Jimmy Carter. Or Herbert Hoover. Also, I don’t do politics well face-to-face, because I get angry too easily. And I’m an introvert!
On identity politics: I make a distinction (and I’m alone in doing this, I think) between intersectionality and identity politics. If we think of people as bundles of properties (“rural hispanic wage worker, female” is four properties; “married” is a fifth; “with children” a sixth; “with medical debt” a seventh) then it’s easy to see how to conceptualize overlapping sets of people/voters based on those properties, and also easy to see how (and that) you should adapt your approach based on the composition of the sets. Intersectionality is a humane approach. If you want to construct the largest possible set, then you obviously focus on the property shared by the most people/voters, which in a capitalist system would be wage work. So a focus on “class” = “economics” is in essence pragmatic. That’s where the votes are!
The Democrats and Clinton vulgarize “both/and’ intersectionality into “either/or” “identity politics.” There is, for example, only the “white working class,” because all black and brown people are really aspirational artisanal pickle workers who want to move to Brooklyn, and never “working class” at all. Some might go so far as to say that identity politics (as practiced by both parties) is intrinsically built on combining vertical identities into “50% + 1”-style coalitions, which has the advantages of (1) keeping party establishments alternatively in power and (2) not really changing anything, because the coalitions are too weak.
Ruy Teixeira has a lot to answer for with his “coalition of the ascendant” (which was too long to fit in the “Doctrine” box, so I put “Obama Coalition” there instead). There are a lot of Democrats whose rice bowls depend on his work, though, so the nonsense is hard to dislodge. (To be fair, Teixeira is said to have wanted a working class focus as well, but the Democrats forgot about that part, rather like the neoliberals forgot that redistribution was needed to compensate the losers hidden by the average figures used to show the benefits of globalization.)
If you want to construct the largest possible set, then you obviously focus on the property shared by the most people/voters, which in a capitalist system would be wage work. So a focus on “class” = “economics” is in essence pragmatic. That’s where the votes are!
1. It is interesting that HRC was so resistant to an economic narrative. She moved, transparently, from pro-TPP to “against” TPP, so she wasn’t oblivious to economic-message pandering. But in general she was too confident that a ‘moderate’ economic message appealing to New Dems and suburban Rs would do the trick for her, with the added bonus that after taking office she wouldn’t have the hassle of having to renege on a whole bunch of campaign ‘promises.’ OTOH, she clearly had no stomach to run against O’s record, so she was kind of boxed-in to an “everything is awesome” message.
2. At certain points, economic losers lose patience. (Especially if they find a voice that helps to articulate their dissatisfaction. Trump was that voice.) Many voters showed extreme patience with O, which turned out to be another bait and switch. This time around, an “I feel your pain” campaign narrative (that Slick Willie must have been promoting internally) might have been a dud anyway because voters were (more) wise to the trick and she had very little credibility.
Yes, she ran a terrible campaign but I am quite sure she ran the campaign she wanted to run (with the possible exception of the TPP flip flop). So I ultimately conclude that she lost because she was a terrible candidate.
HRC didn’t run against Obama’s economic record because doing so would have opened a can of identity politics worms.
Actually, I think if you looked more carefully at the messaging history of her campaign, she was DYING to run against Obama’s record. But then she needed all those black church ladies in the South as her firewall, and she needed Obama and his lackeys to keep her out of jail until Inauguration Day, and she slowly backed into running as his third term, when no other theme was working for her.
To be clear, what I’m arguing is that she basically got caught in pincers: Obama flavored dog food was selling nominally better than the Clinton brand, AND she couldn’t throw him under the bus as energetically as she wanted to, because she needed his legal protection, which their mutual owners would have demanded he deliver. She, Bill and some of their top surrogates did float anti-Obama messages at various points in the both the primary and general election campaigns.
It’s occurred to me that a possible consequence of the Black Misleadership Class nobbling Sanders with the South Carolina firewall is Booker 2020.
I don’t think so. If you mean he’ll run, that was always going to happen. Obama got in his way.
I don’t think he’ll win the nomination. I don’t think the base will go for him. I don’t think the remaining church ladies will dig him enough, I don’t think working class black people and leftist black people will go for him. Other PoC minorities still in the thrall of identity politics will say it’s “their turn” to field the candidate.
And I think leadership is going to try to get rural whites back by running a non-urban white guy. Look at what they just did with the SotU response. They’re incapable of thinking outside demographic check boxes. And four years of complete Republican hegemony presumably means more and better voter disenfranchisement, which almost necessarily disproportionately impacts black voters.
I guess that will be a good test of whether I’m truly wise at this stuff, or was just lucky in my prognosticating this year. I do not believe Booker will get the nomination. The real wild card on that, IMO, isn’t the Misleaders, it’s Wall Street. The Street will presumably continue to own the Democratic Party, and Cory’s their boy. But I don’t think they’ll be able to get the dogs to choke down that dog food even in the primaries.
(Oooh, now I’m actually excited to see if I got it right.)
It may be interesting as an intellectual exercise to pinpoint specific episodes in Hillary’s campaign and suggest that they led to her loss, but the bottom line is that Thomas Frank has it exactly right. Beginning in the 1970s, the Democrats decided that they no longer wanted to be the party of the people–unless those people were in the top 10% of all earners or had attended ivy league schools–or preferably both. At the same time, Democrats, as well as Republicans, were determined to eviscerate the New Deal and the Great Society. This came to fruition under Bill Clinton, and, let’s be honest, Hillary and Bill are tied at the hip through all their co-mingled accounts and activities. Every law that real progressives would like to change amounts to a complete dismantling of the Clinton administration legislation. Hillary had her own issues, but both she and Bill had to spend a good part of the campaign pretending they weren’t who everyone knew they were. As an acquaintance remarked, “The Clintons’ idea of success is seeing how much they can get away with.”
Obama’s election, and re-election, had a lot to do with both white guilt and black guilt, not approval of him or his programs. Hillary ran on a platform of Obama’s third term, but even the blacks weren’t prepared to support Obama’s actions, even if they refused to disavow the man based on racial identity. It wouldn’t matter how many voters were registered if they weren’t willing to vote for Hillary. If any one event can be said to have sunk Hillary’s campaign, it would be Bernie’s campaign. Bernie’s platform made it impossible for Dems or Repubs to ignore what was possible under a decent human being running for office on issues that affected real people. Any candidate running on “more of the same” was bound to lose.
1. Mondale’s failure
2. Dukakis’ failure
3. Clinton (under DLC asupices) win
Signaled the change in the Democratic party’s funding.
During their control of Government the Democrats completely failed to address Right to Work and Taft-Hartley, due to their dependence on their Dixiecrat wing.
The reason for the Dixiecrat objections to organized labor appear based on the aversion to slave revolts, and is a core foundation to today’s republican party.
The sole reason for the historical Dixiecrat wing of the Democratic party was political expedience in having a set of voters who would never vote Republican because of Abraham Lincoln’s “War of Northern Aggression.”
When my wife and I, both English, moved from NY to Raleigh, (Old ….. Raleigh), we were met by a neighbor who said:
“I’m right pleased you are English and not Yankees.”
My instant though was “War of Independence, forgiven, US Civil War, not at all.”
Finally, please reflect on “The South Shall Rise Again.” It has, in today’s republican party, and they rule. I’d point our that Clinton’s southern perspective was very effective at gutting the Democrat’s traditional constituency – the Poor, Downtrodden and Oppressed, as one would expect from a definition of success , where historically success = plantation owner.
Payback time. Only took 150 years.
First they came for the Communists
Then they came for the Muslims
Then they came for the poor
Then the came for me…..
> It may be interesting as an intellectual exercise to pinpoint specific episodes in Hillary’s campaign and suggest that they led to her loss,
It certainly would have been, but that’s not the post I wrote. See at “Establishment -> Doctrine.” The Thomas Frank material is all there (in short form, I grant)*. I then go on to work out the contradiction between the effects of establishment doctrine as implemented in Obama’s policies, and the messaging that doctrine permitted the Clinton campaign to put forth, and how that played out with actual voters in flipped counties. As it turned out, Clintonian incrementalism (“America Is Already Great”) was not a winning one.
> If any one event can be said to have sunk Hillary’s campaign, it would be Bernie’s campaign.
I have a secondary pathway where Clinton campaign Affirmatively Repels the left (which means in practice Sanders voters). I didn’t make it a primary pathway to failure because I couldn’t put any numbers to it, making it a zeitgeist thing, instead a critical failure.
If you want to urge that the Sanders campaign was a primary path to failure for Clinton, then you need to show that the counties that flipped from Obama to Trump had a substantial proportion of Sanders voters who either flipped to Trump, or voted third party, or stayed home. If there is such evidence, my priors tell me that I’d love to see it, but I haven’t seen it, and you don’t present it. I’ve seen one or two anecdotes of particular voters (Chris Arnade had some) but nothing significant
Pro tip: Before categorizing a post as an “intellectual exercise,” do consider reading it. I know it’s long, but I flatter myself there’s some useful material in it.
NOTE * To be fair, not the cultural aspects, formulated by Chris Arnade as the distinction between “front row kids” and “back row kids.” But again, that’s a zeitgeist thing; a constant, not a variable
“I didn’t make it a primary pathway to failure because I couldn’t put any numbers to it, making it a zeitgeist thing, instead a critical failure.”
That’s a non sequitur. One’s inability to put numbers to a pathway doesn’t make it any less of a critical failure. The Sanders challenge to Clinton involves all the issues: the economy, voter suppression, the MSM, the VSP. In particular, there’s an obvious reason why Clinton’s campaign never ran with the Voter Suppression issue: they needed it for the primary.
Please do me the courtesy of assuming that I did read the article–which, in fact, I did. I realize that you spent a considerable amount of time gathering information and putting it together in an article, but that doesn’t mean I found it illuminating. Rearranging data into a chart doesn’t necessarily make the data more relevant or make for a more cogent explanation of Democrat party failures, at least, not to me. If it helped other readers, great.
Maybe the data to demonstrate the Bernie factor in Clinton’s loss can never be quantified in numerical terms. Bernie’s campaign inflamed hope and the will for change in the hearts of so many dispirited people. Obama promised hope and reneged thus feeding despair.
In Bernie Sanders there was a real chance of fulfillment but that was haughtily crushed by Hellary. So people who participated in the Bernie revolution either in attendance or as observers had only one place to go and that was to smash business as usual;- the stuff that normally happens when revolts begin.
Maybe they went for Trump, he does symbolize a molotov cocktail in so many ways.
Would using the primary results (as is) be a substitute for quantifying the effect on Sanders supporters? Clintons’ delegate count included lopsided victories from deep red states that she was never going to win in November. Comparing swing state Clinton/Sanders results and then comparing that to Obama 2008 and 2012 might show something.
> In other words, you do not have to be in a flipped county to affect the outcome in the state.
True, but that’s a zeitgeist effect. I’m focusing on classes of flipped voters that can be demonstrated to have had a real effect, not on hypotheticals individual votes.
I think the Sanders campaign was more a symptom of the Third Way/DLC failure than the cause. That campaign appealed to a lot of people who had become disillusioned with politics, at least as that art is practiced in 21st Century America. When Sanders conceded the nomination, I suspect a lot of those people either didn’t vote or voted third party, which is what they would have done in the first place. Clinton might have lost even without a Sanders campaign.
I’ve voted third party for President ever since John Anderson, so I’m probably not the best gauge for the mood of the country. The only votes I regret now, though, are the ones where I didn’t vote third party. It’s clear that the New Democrats were just going to keep taking the money and running, and as long as the money came they were happy. The sooner we could have brought about the end of that money by making the New Democrats an irrelevant party, the better we all would have been.
In the end, the Clintons and the Democratic leadership were the ones with the power to change things for themselves. They didn’t. I know you’re not blaming Bernie for the loss, but a lot of Clinton’s supporters do, and they couldn’t be more wrong. The Germans came through the Ardennes again, just like they always do, and the Democrats’ leaders didn’t see them coming, because they didn’t want to believe it could happen.
You know Clinton could have harnessed that energy instead of combating it. She could have given Veep or SoS or something to Bernie (maybe he didn’t want to play ball). She could have chosen Liz Warren to be Veep, or at least some true-blue progressive.
Nope, she went and chose insider and frightfully boring Tim Kaine. A definite F-U to the left wing. A literal synopsis for hippy-punching.
Ultimately, she thought she’d win despite it all because “who would vote Trump”?
I watched during the campaign for a genuine recognition on Clinton’s part that Bernie had a point. I never saw anything like it. So, yes, the Clinton campaign just gave his supporters the finger and moved on to losing the general election.
And Kaine was a mistake, even if you didn’t care about progressives all that much. I think of him as Timmy The Idiot, not because he’s stupid, but because the man speaks with so little affect that he might as well be. ‘Lackluster’ doesn’t even begin to describe his style, and they picked him when they were up against a boisterous and energetic opponent who never has had problems expressing himself in public.
Talk about bringing a knife to a gunfight.
I’m probably a better data point to illustrate your point. I hated the Clintons, and my main reason for supporting Obama was that I assumed (wrongly) that if he was willing to take on her coronation in 2008, he must be courageous, and want different governance, ergo wasn’t as corrupt and wasn’t neoliberal.
Whenever you’re done laughing at me (which I get, and accept), consider that I donated to and VOLUNTEERED for Obama in 2008. By 2012, I went into the voting booth intended to vote third party for President for the first time in my adult life; I’m in my 50s. I chickened out at the last second, worried that with a thinner margin, Obama would be even more likely to govern like a Republican. So since I was a Californian, and there was ergo no way for my state’s electoral votes to go elsewhere, I voted for him to increase his popular vote margin, in the slim hope he would govern more like the person he campaigned as.
This year, I voted for Bernie in the General Election, legally. I would never, ever have voted for Hillary Clinton in the primary or the General Election. I had been planning to vote Peace & Freedom before Bernie got in the race, and I would have defaulted back to it.
The corporate Democrats will never con me again. Or rather, the only way they could would be to run on a strong platform of concrete leftist policy and refuse to deliver it. But I wouldn’t fall for identitarian markers again like race or “community organizer” status. They’d need to turn a real leftist as their Trojan Horse, not offer up a corporate stooge with a slim enough record as to be artificially overwritten in the media. And they’d have to be running a whole horde of actual turned leftists for Senate and Congressional seats. Otherwise, I’d spot the closers in the back of the boiler room.
And I do not think I’m alone in this.
Trust me, I’m not laughing. I was part of the “let’s get more progressives in the Democratic Party” crowd back then. I knew Obama was a conservative, thought he was a fake besides, and, believe it or not, I supported Clinton once John Edwards dropped out.
But, as some wise person once said, if you want to find out who someone really is give him the power to do as he wants. Once the Dems had control of the White House and Congress, it was clear that they didn’t want to do any of the things we sent them there to do. They didn’t really fix the economy, they didn’t provide universal health care, and they didn’t make the wars any shorter than they were going to be anyway. Plus, they got us into a few more wars.
And whenever we tried to run a progressive against a Democrat who was a conservative, the DSCC or DCCC stepped in to make sure that the conservative won. They did this even when it was clear, as in the case of Bill Halter running against Blanche Lincoln, that the conservative would lose in the general election.
It took awhile, but it finally dawned on me that the Democrats not only didn’t want power for any useful purpose, but they didn’t care if they even had power, as long as the money kept rolling in. That’s why I like your reference to “the boiler room”. It really is a con – send them money and they’ll pretend to try to resist what the GOP is doing, but in fact, they either don’t care or are helping the GOP along. That truth has only dawned on me fairly recently, but the last three elections are proof that the Dems in DC don’t care whether they ever gain power again. Either that, or they’re complete idiots, and I don’t think they’re idiots.
So maybe your refusal to vote third party wasn’t such a bad thing, after all. The power of voting third party is that it tells another party that they won’t get your vote unless they do better. When they don’t care about the votes, there’s not much that voting Green, or whatever, is going to tell them. That’s not going to stop me from doing it, but I’m now looking for a strategy that will work against the enemy we actually face, not the one I thought we were facing.
Anyway, thanks for sharing your story.
Me, too. That’s why I’m here, and that’s why I’m sometimes annoyingly intransigent and repetitive. I see literally no alternative now to voting every single corporate Democrat out and doing everything possible to peel every well-intentioned liberal away from them.
I considered putting “well-intentioned” in quotes, but while Democratic leadership is a bunch of liars, I think there are a lot of people who could be allies and just haven’t woken up yet, because recognizing the enormity of the task ahead is too frightening. We need to reach them, and get them to understand the Republicans have functional governing hegemony that the corporate Democrats can’t and won’t overturn, so voting out all the Ds does no harm, while at least giving us an opportunity for good in the future.
I suspect a lot of folks did not like the way the country was going and recalled the definition of insanity as doing the same thing and expecting different results. Clinton was going to be doing the same thing and expecting different results.
Yes, you describe “volatility voters” thing. But I don’t accept the zeitgeist as an explanation for losing an election; elections are won and lost by voters voting in precincts (in counties (in States (as aggregated according to the rules of the electoral college))). So, I agree with you, but only because I presented evidence for this happening in the counties that flipped from Obama to Trump.
The bitterness behind “The Resistance” with no programs or benefits for the disaffected, signals three things:
1. No intent to change
2. Complete surprise that the previously successful identity politics became exhausted (grayslady says it better).
3. A song and dance to convince the large donors not to jump ship.
As a large donor, what would you do? I’d take my money to a tried and true republican “honest politician.”
Honest Politician: One who stays bought.
It so damn weird. One rational article after another describing why Hillary lost. And why the Democrats are losing over and over again. So what do we hear from the establishment Democrats (and now the DNC yet again): Why it is Putin’s fault. There is nothing Democrats can do but advocate for war against Russia. That will certainly solve their long term problems,
It’s rather like one of those horror movies with pod people, isn’t it? Or the Stepford Wives.
Donna Brazille, Nancy Pelosi, and their ilk (the third way) are the problem. The solution is a purge. One of the appeals of Hillary was the promise she would spend her way to victory and state party chairs would get primo inauguration tickets with no work.
At this point, too many Democrats are so tarnished they can’t reinvent themselves. After the loss of Ohio, I wonder what kind of reception Sherrod Brown is receiving from Hillary skeptics who said Brown told them Hillary would win when she was striking him along with VP promises.
Who would believe them if they did change? Trust doesn’t work that way. Without Team Blue patronage, would Carville get screen time to drop gems such as “it’s the economy, stupid.” Whoa, imagine if Hoover knew this. He would have still engaged in a massive change to how the federal government works and intervenes and still been woefully short because he and the U.S. at large didn’t have sufficient experience.
What do they have besides Russia? Also, I’m cynical enough to believe Clinton Inc thought this would appeal to “moderate Republicans” after Palin and Mittens. Yep, Palin could see Russia, and Hillary sees Russians everywhere.
If I can be forgiven one observation about the Battle of France, I would like to use it as an analogy. France could have won only by attacking Germany the previous September or October; French aggression in September-October 1939 while the Germans were in Poland might have induced collapse in the Nazi regime; only then could France have had the advantages of initiative and numbers. By waiting for the Germans to get organized and to take the initiative on a schedule that suited the Germans, France ensured that its own military could not respond adequately to the Germans, when the Germans, rested and tanned, finally showed up to fight in May 1940 on ground of their choosing and with a full complement. This grand strategic failure is thus arguably the origin of the failure to adaptively respond adequately that Gooch and Cohen identified.
It seems to me that Clinton was not just the status quo candidate thematically, but also in terms of grand strategy. The failure to adapt to emergent evidence was built into the conservative use of models by pollsters, but also by conservative use of political models by the Clinton campaign. Identity politics is a model of voter behavior and effective means of persuasion. The failure to win the primary in Michigan or Wisconsin against Sanders contained important information; the inability to hear is remarkable and needs explanatory analysis.
In a related matter, why wasn’t Clinton trying to win the Senate? The Party had a remarkable numerical advantage in having more Republican Senate seats available to contest, with several in swing states where a Senate campaign could increase Democratic turnout. Why circumvent campaign finance laws to drain money from the States when she had many hundreds of millions to spend already?
March 7, 2017 at 8:50 pm
good points – I might quibble over “emergent evidence” versus failure to adapt to ANY evidence. you can’t teach people who know it all anything…
“The failure to win the primary in Michigan or Wisconsin against Sanders contained important information; the inability to hear is remarkable and needs explanatory analysis.”
Some people just don’t learn. Remember 2008 – Hillary vs Obama. The Clinton team, MASTERS of politics, apparently did not understand some of the nuances of winning delegates.
Rinse and repeat:
The Clinton team, MASTERS of politics, apparently did not understand some of the nuances of winning the electoral college….
That’s an interesting comparison. The Clinton campaign was outflanked in the caucuses by Obama. Then Trump outflanked them in the Electoral College.
It’s part of their general contempt for the rules. They don’t matter. Back during 2008, she was desperate to move Florida and Michigan up to prevent New Hampshire and Iowa from hurting her before going to South Carolina. Trying to win without the appearance of cheating would have gone far.
The Clintons first date was to cross a picket line.
Isn’t that an amazing little fact? The In These Lines article about it was so devastating in its detail. Bill and Hill love breaking the rules, loving hurting working people, love undermining worker solidarity and love, love, LOVE feeling like the cleverest, most morally transgressive people in the room. That makes them feel special.
If you haven’t read it yet, do. They are, and always have been, who the left thought they were.
> They are, and always have been, who the left thought they were.
For those who came in late, this is a reference to a famous rant by the great Dennis Green:
And let’s not forget the last line: “And we let ’em off the hook.” Never again!
Would it be appropriate, given the post topic, to drop in “YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!”
Best thing he ever did…
Good point, too. Yet I have been amazed over the years by the number of otherwise smart people who were impressed with how professional Hillary Clinton’s campaigns were. No matter who was up against them – Edwards, Obama, Sanders, Trump, etc., they just couldn’t believe that anyone could choose those people over Clinton because of her obvious excellence.
I admire well-oiled machines and the organizations as much as the next guy, but a well-oiled machine that’s being driven in the wrong direction isn’t going to go anywhere useful, except by accident. And, much like her policies, Clinton’s campaign strategy seemed to have set goals that were more oriented toward making the Clintons better off, rather than making the rest of us better off.
Clinton could have signaled to all that she heard very easily – by picking Sanders as her running mate. At the time it seemed to me the obvious thing to do, and she even had a good precedent: Bill defeated Al in the 1992 primary then picked him as VP for a winning unity ticket. If she had teamed up with Sanders, who has said that he would have accepted, I don’t see how they could have been defeated.
When I hear people saying it’s not her fault because of things outside her control (sexism, Comey letter, bigotry) I think yes it is her fault, because she showed with her VP pick that she wasn’t hearing how hard things are out there.
Yes this needs explanatory analysis, maybe we’ll get it in the book she is writing.
This is what made clear to me the hatred that the DNC and Dem elite have for actual left wing policies and the people who support and promote them. Bringing Sanders in as the VP candidate and pretending that they wanted his supporters as part of the party probably would have given them the White House. They just couldn’t do that because they seem to be fundamentally opposed to anything even resembling New Deal style policies and because Sanders isn’t “the right sort of chap” and thus could never be considered for admittance to the head office. Even lip service to the left was out of the question.
Yep. The failure to pick Sanders as VP — or even to respect his supporters and include them — is doctrinal.
Until wiki leaks demonstrated Kaine was the pick all along, I assumed Kaine was a cynical attempt to appeal to white males who can’t afford hair plugs.
You guys keep avoiding the obvious.
1) She had Obama’s boy moved out and her girl Debbie moved in, and she had to trade something to get it.
2) She had to put a reliable neoliberal stooge on the ticket to protect the TPP and the other key elements of the neoliberal project coming to final fruition because she (and Bill, and probably key funders) knew she was unlikely to be able to stay in office a full four years because of her health.
Now that it’s over, can we finally stop pretending she doesn’t have a severe neurological condition? It can’t be just alcoholism, as I have read some speculate. You don’t have to wear those special glasses for a hangover, and DTs don’t look anything like that collapse on the curb. Believe me. I grew up with alcoholics. She may be a drunk, but that is not her only problem.
#2 translates to “doctrinal.” In DC, there’s no such thing as a doctrine without persons attached to it.
I deprecate the health stuff. If Bill Frist can’t diagnose Terry Schiavo from a video, we can’t diagnose Hillary Clinton from a video.
My position is that her coumadin use is the key factor, (a) because it’s very dangerous if not correctly regulated, especially for stress, (b) the Presidency is an obvious stressor, (c) and I have a bad direct experience with it.
IOW, her coumadin use is iron-clad with evidence (unlike anything else) and it’s a disqualifier. Why ask for a President to be hit with a stroke?
I consider the physical, videotaped and photographed (i.e., multiple sources at multiple points in the time line) evidence from her September collapse pretty solid proof that something is seriously wrong with her. But I won’t belabor it here.
PIcking Kaine was such a terrible and specific mistaken that doctrinal seems a bit to general to fully explain it. I mean, I think for the purposes of the matrix analysis, it clearly fits right in that box. But I think there was a lot more going on there that isn’t relevant to the matrix but is relevant to understanding the Obama and Clinton factions — not the topic of the piece.
IOW, doctrinal forces probably meant that she’d have put a TPP-loving neoliberal in the VP slot instead of Sanders even if NOT Kaine, and the failure path would have continued on its sad way to failure. I was responding to more to NTG and the general befuddlement through the comments at her picking someone so very, very terrible. That’s actually one of the things I like about your matrix; you’re laying out a way to discern what most likely DID cause the failure, not what might have. (Looking at the mistakes that didn’t matter is like looking at airplane that survived being shot at, and not the ones that went down.)
I don’t think the coumadin moved votes though. The actual collapse was more relevant to that box, I think. And some of that was how very sick she was, how very chill her people were about it (indicating how common this was), but also how it touched on how secretive and dishonest she has always been.
I agree that someone with her health history should never have been nominated. But I don’t think that, specifically, cost her votes. Would a Hillary without coumadin in her health record have held those Obama counties? (See, that’s why your matrix is so useful…)
“dizziness/fainting” and “unusual or persistent tiredness/weakness” are side effects of Coumadin. I don’t see a reason to venture into armchair diagnosis when there’s a well-evidenced account (that, moreover, disqualifies the candidate, the presumed political goal).
> By waiting for the Germans to get organized and to take the initiative on a schedule that suited the Germans
Military Misfortunes discusses this, and IIRC there are two reasons:
1) In fact, some French personnel did study the blitzkrieg in Poland, and the French military was beginning to incorporate some of the lessons, and the slowness of military bureaucracies to react (and reconfigure units and procure weapons) aside,
2) French doctrine was all about absorbing an offensive blow and counter-attacking successful (a lesson of World War I). So taking the offense would have been alien to them. The strategic failure of 1940 was a consequence of the hard-won strategic successes following 1917, ironically enough.
> the inability to hear is remarkable and needs explanatory analysis
I think that’s true. Again, I didn’t see evidence that Clinton’s screw-ups on the ground had material effects; Nate Silver argues not. But the Clinton “campaign culture” was clearly deeply dysfunctional, and maybe I can follow up with that in a subsequent post.
On the Senate, the Democrats picked horrible candidates: Bayh in Indiana, Murphy in Florida. I don’t know how that happened.
They not only picked horrible candidates, they actively worked against, funded, and mounted vehement attacks against more progressive and/or independent (of the party royalty and dogma) candidates in, e.g. PA and FL. That’s how it happened, and that definitely pissed off some lefties. Like me. Could Grayson have won in FL? Probably not, especially after his own party leadership called him out as a jerk, a crook, and a domestic abuser. Some of which is true, but he’s an effective politician. How about Sestak in PA? Better chance, as he came very close last time against Toomey (49-51). Picking McGinty to swing Allegheny County strongly Dem worked, but aside from Pittsburgh and Philly, the whole rest of the state (which had never heard of McGinty) went to Toomey. Sestak (ok, not exactly a progressive)had name recognition, a great resume, and prior national elective office experience. But he wouldn’t kiss Chuck Schumer’s ass. Could he have beaten Toomey? Maybe. Could he have swung enough votes from Trump to swing Pa? Long shot.
Examples abound of the Dem establishment kneecapping lefties and non-lockstep non-sycophants in primaries to run DINOs. Rahm lives!!!! We “fucking retards” can pound sand.
Point being, it’s not just the presidential race that needs analysis. The perfidy of the Dem establishment in down-ticket races colors voters’ perceptions of the Dem party, candidates, platforms and promises and affects their votes for president.
Incredible work, Lambert. Do you sleep?
They should have gotten behind Fetterman. But that would have meant letting an unkept progressive win. Can’t have that.
> Incredible work, Lambert. Do you sleep?
Not on the nights I wrote these two posts, no! My excuse for a few more slip-ups than usual!
Two words, IMO: Todd Akin.
In 2012, incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill was facing a real threat from the insurgent GOP, so she devised an unusual scheme: prop up an opponent so toxic that “sensible” voters would shun him in favor of her. That man turned out to be Todd Akin, and his infamous “legitimate rape” quote paid off in spades for her. As Akin refused to withdraw his candidacy, he turned off even die hard Republicans. Meanhwhile, McCaskill campaigned with the idea that only her “woman-in-the-middle” approach was right for MO, and an “extremist” like Akin was not.
She won easily. Akin was so bad that he dragged down numerous GOP candidates with him.
This, IMO, paved the way for Team Clinton to use a similar tactic to prop up Trump, only this time, with her own toxic record weighing her down, and the appeal of playing to the middle a horribly mistimed venture, the strategy backfired.
McCaskill herself admitted as much.
This is an excellent point. I really do think the HRC campaign thought the Access Hollywood tape would clinch the deal.
Dang this election stuff is complicated. At least the Washington Post finally got it right. “Our Worldview Was Incorrect!” Jeebus. And I thought I was the only one that suspected that.
I wonder if we have enough data-history yet to do the Matrix for the sequel. “The DNC Strikes Back!”
DNC soul searching indicates everything they did was fundamentally sound and they had a wonderful candidate everyone loved, but elections are chaotic and the math just went against them. Can happen to even the bestest and brightest people. They just need to try harder! So, turn the amp up to 13 and lets let it rip! This team can be Weiners! They just need a lot of hard work, scream the message louder we already are so fond of, and the team players only need a slight bit of juggling.
Onward to victory! First we’ll take Manhattan…then we take Berlin….
Your amp goes up to 13?! Wow!
Future Washington Post headlines:
“Nancy Pelosi makes impassioned plea to Sister-In-Arms Frau Merkel – ‘Build That Wall, Angela!'”
“‘ ”Chuck ‘Chucky The Pizza Dude” Schumer announces if he were President, he would build a Wall along the entire western Russia border and get Putin to pay for it. If Putin doesn’t have the cash, Chuck says he’s got business associates that do. But all details of the transactions will be handled by Domino pizza deliveries of encrypted pizza code to Beltway Russian ambassadors to avoid any improper direct communication with Russian officials. Press reports on the status of the pizza code negotiations will be leaked to Romanian hackers whom agree in writing to forward the leaked reports to Wiki Leaks. Extra credit points if they get ex-British spooks to act as intermediaries.””
“Soros discretely organizes a Two Million Women March On Berlin. Sadly, the next day, two million pink pussy hats wash up on the Jersey Shoreline.”
There will be more. America IS still Great!
Good analysis, but I think the Democratic party will not listen.
I’ll keep voting Green. It’s the other thirty years of voting Dem that I’ve come to regret.
I think the essential difference between the Greens and the Democrats is that the Greens don’t have any power. Endorsing the “Russian hacking” theory as a reason for their election suit should be a giant, er, red flag.
The Green Party sucks. But if you leave the presidential ballot blank you don’t signal anything, right? So we vote for Jill Stein. I’m not sure why this is so hard.
In addition to voting for a party that sucks, you can (in some states) write in your candidate of choice, or you can spoil your ballot (which counts, IIRC, unlike a blank ballot). So it’s not hard, but it’s a little harder than you think.
Why? I’d have mentioned any sort of similar situation that looked fishy in a court pleading on this subject, so why not that one?
If it came to you voting Green in the general election, you might as well not vote (specific precincts may matter).
Who did you vote for in the primaries?
I live in Cerro Gordo county Iowa–Mason City–where Hillary gave that cited speech. Amidst the ongoing opioid and meth epidemic, it was just announced by our state’s newly privatized medicaid corporation that it may no longer contract with our local hospital which plays a large role in the medical treatment of addiction.
The hospital is the largest one in the 210 miles between Ames IA and the Minneapolis area. Mayo no longer accepts Iowa medicaid and it looks like the general hospital available to medicaid patients might well be the Univ. of Iowa in Iowa City, 150 miles away.
Thanks for the report! Just remember:
America Is Already Great!
Adding, I always like it when a report from the ground shows me that I’m exactly as
bitter and cynicalrealistic about the political class as I need to be. (Of course, I do temper the realism with optism about (non-political class) activists!)
Lambert, this is great.
There’s a lot of easily comprehended data in the state by state absolute vote totals that I think gets obscured when looking only at percent margins. In fact the most rock-headed analysis of state absolute votes 2012-2016 already yields some clear results. You don’t need a consulting firm with Big Data Analytics to understand what they’re telling you. In short: Trump got exactly the Romney vote totals. 6% of Obama vote totals went to third parties, 94% went to Clinton. This simple model shows a 99% correlation to state-by-state margin shifts, which span a large range (over 15 points).
If you have any interest you can email me for spreadsheets.
Thanks very much!
>Trump got exactly the Romney vote totals
Which is rather interesting. There is a lot of discussion about white working class voters and how the Democrats can appeal to them. And I want to and do at the moment believe in pretty much all of it.
But: it does bother me that there is an authoritarian strain in America, where a bunch of people are perfectly happy to tug their forelocks as long as they are part of… something and can feel that there are other people that…aren’t. And when people who are Republicans vote for Republicans, no matter if that person is a totally inexperienced New Yorker that they can hardly find anything positive to say about when asked, well, that is a bit disquieting.
The Dems failed? We have a monism, one theology, one god and one master: Markets Uber Alles.
The Dems messaging failed to win enough thumbs up from the voters, but the new boss same as the old boss.
If they would have won, what would be different?
We’re just seeing some symbolic tinkering at the margins.
Actually, given the rigidity of the pattern of trade-offs (2 full terms each, alternating, ever since Clinton was re-elected – the same pattern was predominant since term limits were enacted), it’s a very good question whether the Dems “failed.” They may simply have been keeping their bargain.
We certainly don’t believe it makes a big difference; they may not, either.
Note that by that logic, it is now Trump’s and the Republicans’ job to
1) save the Democrats (from themselves) by handing them a victory in the midterms – this is already well underway; and
2)Insuring that a Democrat is elected President in 2024 – regardless of who it is. They’re doing so well at this that 2020 is going to be a close thing. it might well be necessary to cheat on a large scale to re-elect Trump. But we know they’re up to it.
The job of the Democrats seems to be to block the left from power. In this they have been successful. Their wealthy donors are rewarded for their support, whether or not the Democrats actually exercise power themselves.
> The job of the Democrats
No, the job of the Democrat Establishment. As I keep saying, the party has assets worth seizing, once its management is purged.
Absolutely…it’s not like they’re really being used right now.
The remaining questions:
What are the odds on “purging” the leadership? Again, 30 years of attempts came up a lot worse than zero – they’ve only strengthened the leadership.
What do you do with the 53% of Democrats (membership) who voted against Bernie in the primaries?
How long will those assets last, at the rate affiliation is shrinking? It’s now less than Republicans, according to Gallup, for the first time.
What you really want is an empty set with ballot access and a lot of money. Trouble is, it isn’t empty and isn’t going to be any time soon. If it were, it would have neither ballot access nor money.
Unfortunately, this is a dilemma that isn’t going to be settled soon. We’ve got about a year until the 2018 campaigns start. My faith in electoral solutions is shrinking.
A further thought, since I’m getting more and more radical: there HAS been a nuclear-armed government overthrown, the Soviet Union. A careful study of how that worked might be worthwhile.
Last I heard, the Berniecrats took over California. We’ll see how that goes.
I think we have to be careful not to overstate that. I went to those elections, to vote for a Bernie slate. They were part of broader coalition of Berner and related leftists and progressives aligned in groupings across the state. I went because a whole lot of outreach touched me. I personally talked to every member of the slate I voted for. I was tremendously impressed with them personally, with their direct communication (conversation and speeches), with their marketing communication (postcards, etc.), and with their public communication (Twitter, their web site). The entire slate won, including the guy we elected to the California Democratic Party Executive Board. I signed up for future communications. I was psyched about what I observed that morning and heard was happening all over the state.
I have not heard a peep from them since. The web site has not been updated in any way other than announcing the slate had won. I have received no direct communication from them. I have seen nothing on Twitter. I intereact with other California Berners, progressives and leftists in a variety of online forums. I have seen and heard nothing.
I do know that just as the national Democratic party has around 25% of voting member slots of the DNC reserved for lobbyists, and lobbyists are disproportionately represented among the superdelegates who get to decide who’s the Presidential nominee, the California Democratic Party is not controlled by the elected party members, either. There’s a whole bunch of unelected insiders here, too. Berners and their allies won the majority of elected seats (based on news reports) at the district level and on the Executive Board, even with all the attempted and successful rigging at various locations. (I don’t know if the law suit over the rigging in San Diego (IIRC; definitely south of me) is still ongoing.) But my understanding is that winning the elections did not give Berners functional control of the state party. The unelected combined with the corporate/neoliberal/establishment Democrats who got the minority of the seats put up for voting are the majority.
You can see this tension on the state party web site. I just went to the California Democratic Party site. It still lists the election results as unofficial on the main page about it. I had to do an internal search on the name of my new Executive Board representative to find the sub-page where my slate’s win is confirmed. I could not figure out any way to navigate from that page to any other district’s results from within the web site’s designed navigation. If it’s there, it’s obscure. I had to backwards engineer the page address for another district from up in the address bar. The new, Berner dominated Executive Board isn’t listed on the Executive Board page; it still lists the old board. It’s been more than two months since the election.
So while we made major in-roads, we do not have control of California. The neoliberals still do.
As a Brit in Australia who follows politics in France as well, the US system is to say the least perplexing. It never seems to deliver what I define as true legitimacy and leadership. So as to confirm my suspicions I tried to find out who is the leader of the GOP by Gargling, and got two answers, or was it three? In the Westminster system we know exactly who the leaders of the political parties are and therefore who seems to have power. The leader maintains legitimacy by means of a more or less weekly verbal biffo with the opposition. It seems to sharpen the mind!
The way I look at it, in the legitimacy stakes, if there is no clear civilian leader, power defaults to the the military (who are the basis of civilisation). Thoughts anyone?
” this year, the left did have places to go: third parties, and write-ins.”
And most important, home. Republican turnout did NOT increase; it fell. But Democratic turnout fell much more (outside of California.)
So repelling voters may actually have been the critical “pathway.”
Excellent after-the-fact analysis. Would there be a way to correlate this with Dr. Lichtman’s predictor test (which called for a Trump victory at least as early as Sep 23rd), based on 13 criteria
[1. Party Mandate: After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives than after the previous midterm elections.
2. Contest: There is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination.
3. Incumbency: The incumbent party candidate is the sitting president.
4. Third party: There is no significant third party or independent campaign.
5. Short-term economy: The economy is not in recession during the election campaign.
6. Long-term economy: Real per-capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms.
7. Policy change: The incumbent administration effects major changes in national policy.
8. Social unrest: There is no sustained social unrest during the term.
9. Scandal: The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal.
10 Foreign/military failure: The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs.
11. Foreign/military success: The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs.
12. Incumbent charisma: The incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero.
13. Challenger charisma: The challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero.
Clinton gets a ‘False’ on 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 11, 12, and more than 6 would make Trump a winner]
According to the Lichtman scheme, having Sanders instead of Clinton running against Trump would have toggled item 12 from False to True, leaving still 6 or more False for the Dems and predicting a Trump win.
??? Sanders would have flipped 2 and I don’t know how you would score 4 in the case of his run. And 7 is interesting, you said “false”… the ACA wasn’t a major change in national policy?
Jeff: Good idea for a follow-up!
Different Chris: On 4, ACA certainly wasn’t perceived that way, and the very slow implentation (passed in 2009) would count against Clinton too.
I think Sanders might have scrambled the logic. For example, with Sanders and Trump surely you would have two challengers?
Debating gender: what if Donald Trump was a woman?
A nice video of Donald and Hillary with their genders swapped. Apparently they needed to go this far to realize that Hillary is just unlikeable.
Thanks for posting. That was interesting!
OK, not to plunge into the Battle of France, but it was largely won or lost for two reasons, and I’d be interested to know if there are analogues in your recent election.
One was new tactics, involving fast moving armored spearheads with close air support to dislocate the enemy. The French knew about these tactics but there was no technical counter to them at the time, and would not be for several years. By definition, they were only usable in the offense. Any similarities? Did Trump use tactics to which there was no response available?
Likewise, luck was the biggest reason for the German victory. They gambled on an extremely dangerous plan which depended on good weather (for the use of airpower as well as the passage of troops through the Ardennes) and the French making mistakes. They succeeded but only just. How much if any of Trump’s victory was attributable to just luck, in the sense that one or the other competitor had to win, and ex post facto explanations may not mean much?
I think, just like with the Battle of France, the winner had a lot of luck on their side. I don’t know if its true or not, but its said that the Battle of France along with the Battle of Midway share the distinction of being battles in which every single attempt to wargame them results in an opposite result. The German assault was brilliantly organised, and the Franco-British defence was quite abject. But luck undoubtedly played a very large part. There is no question I think but that a lot of rolled dice rolled in Trumps favour – not least the distribution of the votes he won turned out just right for him in electoral college terms.
But the broad point should be that in both cases, the loser had a much stronger hand going into combat. Quite simply, had the French and British commanders been more competent they should have been able to stymie the German offence no matter how lucky or brave the German commanders were. Likewise with the election – HRC had so many built in advantages in terms of demographics and resources and establishment support that Trump should never have had a sniff of victory. It was incompetence that gave him that small chance of victory – good fortune did the rest.
Great analysis – I must get that book, it sounds very interesting. Another military analogy that would be useful would be the Battle of Singapore, where the British and allies had a whole series of different, and superficially quite competent battle plans, all of which failed abjectly because, just like the French, they fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the threat they were facing and were unable or unwilling to adapt in time.
It seemed to me even at the time that the HRC campaign was suffering from a cascade of quite fundamental errors which I considered, as a complete outside observer, to be baffling. Why go out of your way to deliberately alienate the left and the millions of vote they represented? Why did HRC try to get down and dirty with attacking Trump (always likely to be a risky strategy), when she could have stayed aloof and let proxies do the attacking for her? Why put so much focus on ‘moderate’ Republicans despite knowing from repeated polls that they specifically and viscerally dislike the Clintons? Why did they allow the story to spread that they wanted a landslide, and so encourage many lukewarm supporters to feel their votes didn’t matter? Why did they allow her to be seen with so many east and west coast celebs when that must certainly have reinforced in peoples mind her association with urban elites? Why go out of your way to provoke working class white males? These are the sort of mistakes you wouldn’t expect any competent campaign of any scale or level to make. Those were my thoughts at the time – and now of course post election we know of many more mistakes – her failure to campaign in crucial constituences, the over reliance on Ada, etc.
This brings us of course to another famous WWII miltary disaster, Operation Market Garden. In that case, a series of highly skilled and knowledgable military leaders organised a catastrophic offensive, despite mounting evidence that the operation would not likely succeed. It is considered a classic example of groupthink, where senior strategists were so enamoured of their great plan that they ignored contrary evidence, and underlings at all levels were too scared or sycopanthic to openly disagree. This to me, other than assuming utter incompetence, is the only reasonable explanation for why so many unforced errors were made at all levels of the campaign.
It might be worth looking at another discipline for a moment – the concepts of shame and humiliation described in the work of James Gilligan and René Girard. Gilligan is a psychiatrist who has written extensively about violence as a response to shame and humiliation, and I think it can be argued that the Democratic policy of deliberately antagonizing and insulting various demographic groups (notably white males) produced a backlash which is the political equivalence of violence, and which, indeed will get worse (and arguably become violent) the longer this humiliation goes on. So why adopt such a strategy? Girard and others see it as about the creation of a “scapegoat” onto whom all evil can be projected. In a coalition as heterogeneous as the Democratic party appears to have been, the struggle over identity can only be resolved by finding a hate-object against which all can rally. So what looks like irrational behavior actually served the purpose of keeping the party together during the election.
I think there may well be some truth in that. The problem of course with picking white males as your ‘out’ group is that so many millions of them are voters! Sensible politicians seek out the smallest possible demographic if they want to scapegoat them. This is, of course, one of the many problems with trying to build a majority on identity group politics.
Yes, though remember that a scapegoat does not have to correspond to reality, and may not even exist at all (witches and satanic child abusers being obvious examples). Getting really speculative here, I’ve begun to wonder whether there hasn’t been an effort by liberal/progressive circles over the last generation to actually create enemies in real life that correspond to their fears and fantasies, and so retrospectively justify their commitment to ever more extreme forms of identity politics. That is to say, if you attribute all sorts of terrible sins to working class white males, for example, then the more you insult that category from different identity perspectives, the more that category will actually become radicalized against you, and you will be able to claim you were right all along. I think we may be at an inflection point now, in a number of countries. Even now, it seems to me, liberals/progressives are trying to provoke their hated groups (including the current government in Washington) further and further along a line which justifies their existence. Remember that like all ethnographic-nationalist movements, identity politics is a market in which the most extreme positions usually win. So if you’ve been telling people that Trump’s government is going to imprison men who identify as women and use women’s toilets, then you have every incentive to provoke and radicalise Trump’s people to make that outcome more likely, and so justify retrospectively your stance. It’s a great tool for unifying a movement or an ethnic group, and there’s lots of support for it in the literature on conflict, though I agree it’s pretty rubbish as a tactic for winning elections.
I think its a great insight to compare that particular brand of liberal/progressives with nationalist movements – the psychology is very similar, in that by creating this network of aggrived minorities, it is implicit that they have to be together against someone or something. Arguably, thats fine when the ‘something’ are people who have too much power and influence anyway, but it takes a nasty turn when they decide the real enemy are working class whites, especially when the leaders of that movement are invariably middle class and well off. Its just a cover for a bunch of quite priviliged people to hate on a weaker sector. Its a strong underlying current in so much modern feminist and anti-racist rhethoric over the past few years, something I’ve found increasingly disturbing.
Good point re: sycophantry as a measure of a colossal disconnect with reality. When you ignore facts, the outcome can be very painful.
Thanks so much for these articles. Very clarifying!
The ACA rate hikes were planned perfectly politically. Whomever in the Democrat party agreed to having them come out right before elections is one of three things:
#1. A moron.
#2. So naive that they thought the ACA really was designed to be affordable.
#3. A Republican, or a DNC Democrat that really in their heart wants the country to shift more rightward.
My bets are on #1. or #3., sadly with all the Wikileaks stuff coming out I am becoming much more conspiratorial.
You illustrate well everything that’s wrong with our elections, our voting system, and polling.
Here’s the real deal:
I live in a 4 unit apartment building in a major American city, we are older white Americans. The people on one side are a black American family, the people on our other side are roommates who are probably gay, and the lady downstairs is German who has been here for 40 years.
We are all Americans and we ALL know that no matter our race, our gender, our color, our income, the US government doesn’t give two flying fkucs about any of us.
That’s the real problem.
Lambert, this is a fantastic write-up. I’ve already emailed it to my big, unhappy, neoliberal family.
It really worries me, like you said, that the DNC hasn’t put out a real postmortem, especially in the wake of the hawkishness on Russia. I hope the Party doesn’t believe that’s a legitimate excuse, given that Putin didn’t exactly send in troops to stop the Clinton campaign at the Wisconsin border. Because while it’s certainly scary to hear people swallowing that lock, stock, and barrel, what absolutely terrifies me is the Party failing to learn any lessons from this campaign, and proceeding to make Trump a two-term president.
We’ve already seen pundits and politicians embrace a) a deep-state coup, b) impeachment, or c) Trump screwing up and getting voted out in four years – all of which are, coincidentally, not contingent on any change-ups in the Democratic establishment. It’s like watching a dog run into a mirror repeatedly.
Hi Lambert, Great piece
Have you seen any detailed info on the state level spending by Koch-type PACs on state level races? A lot (but not all) of the swing states had Senate/Gov/other races those PACs were interested in. My recollection is that polling for several of the key Senate races (PA, OH, WI) broke towards Republicans very late, similar to the late Trump shift. Not that this would be a top-line explanation for the Presidential result, but it could help explain why several of the factors you highlight turned out to be critical.
Obvious issue–was it late Koch funding on other races that helped push Trump over the finish line in a handful of states, or were Koch ads ineffective, and it was late Trump/Clinton dynamics that pushed the downticket Republicans over the finish line at the last minute?
Well, from here in Wisconsin, where we have seen LOTS of Koch political advertising over the past decade, I would say late advertising this time around had very little impact. The general view here, which I subscribe to, is that Trump carried Ron Johnson, who is not a good campaigner, to victory in WI, not the other way around.
Also, there was not a lot of evidence of a late break in the polling data. IMO, the polling firms want you to believe that their polls were accurate the whole time just up until that last couple of days when there MUST have been a big late swing that they didn’t do a good job of capturing. My guess is that the polls all the way along were wrong (i.e. understating Trump support), not that there was major movement in the last week. Of course, in that case it becomes hard to blame the loss on Comey.
That’s a very interesting point. I wonder if the presence of Koch stuff and the absence of Clinton stuff (see today’s Wesleyan study) could have interacted.
Nothing I love more than a thorough and we’ll developed analysis. Truly this is a masterpiece. It’s great because it’s nonlinear. Very satisfying to read something dynamic not a “laundry list” of political “sins”.
I would add though that the prime candidate was deeply flawed as a person. The unlikeability factor played a major part. Even monkeys don’t like old, mildewed bananas. To mix the metaphor that added to the kicker that HillBill”s baggage was TOO heavy. Perez is proof positive the DIMs have yet to learn the lesson.
The party can quell dissent but they cannot make/ force people to like them and their candidates or mode of operation.
Once again major props.
Thank you Lambert, I was looking forward to Part II, and you did not disappoint!
For a different take, complete with 400-odd comments, see
The thing is, even assuming the Ds had done the “get out the vote”/ “knocking on doors” – which they didn’t do in PA, MI, IA, WI, and OH – to offset non-voters, what message could they have conveyed to the working classes of these states (and not just the white working class, working men and women of all races and ethnic groups)? I keep looking for any coherent proposal to address the ills of flyover country (not really the right term, since “flyover country” can be just about anywhere), and I can’t find anything from the Dem establishment apart from ritual platitudes (go back to school, move away, etc.). Realistically speaking, what could HRC have proposed to this group even if she had courted them?
I think a lot of people (me included) hadn’t really understood that the Ds took a conscious decision a long time ago to ally themselves with the so-called credentialed classes. Thomas Frank’s recent book is proving a big revelation. The takeaway for me is that the working class (which I consider an inclusive term) has been bereft of a party for some time.
This morning I watched an incisive interview by Chris Hedges of Kevin Zeese, co-director of Popular Resistance. Zeese has about 30 years of experience in trying to get a third party off the ground (he worked for Nader and for Jill Stein), and he knows how hard it is. But his take on the Democratic Party was pretty dismissive; he feels it’s too corrupt to be taken over now.
Rule #2 of neoliberalism: Go Die. And it’s working out very well for them.
I really like the picture of a bunch of toothless Klansman sitting round the embers of a burnt cross in the dark and whispering to each other: “We’ve gotta git us a Socialist Jew in the White House.” I mean, come on.
“So either big Democrat donors are lighting their money on fire and throwing it up in the air, or they’re paying the Washington Generals to lose. Or both!”
More important than winning is keeping truly Progressive candidates from the ballot, so as not to threaten the neo-liberal consensus and the gravy train it presents to the .001%. It is not implausible that the .001% prefer a Republican win. The inept campaign tends to confirm that view. As much as Obama got away with, he could never get away with the ridiculous policies that Trump is implementing all to benefit the oligarchs. The writing was already on the wall for TPP. There were no limits to Trump’s ability to speak through both sides of his mouth, whereas a minimum of self respect would hold a faux progressive back. Needless to say the job was done, a truly left progressive, who would challenge the crimes of the .001% was kept off the ballot.
Lambert, your conclusions are spot on. I live in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, about an hour away from either Scranton or Wilkes-Barre (the big cities). It’s a poor area and even the advent of fracking has only enriched formerly struggling farmers with a lot of acreage; the little guy, not so much. What fracking has done is raise rental costs beyond ordinary people who are not employed by the gas companies and raise our school and property taxes so that older folks continue to lose their homes. It’s always been “It’s the economy, stupid.”
In any case, I am a Bernie supporter and I was not going to vote for Hillary because (1) she was the ultimate establishment candidate, (2) I didn’t believe any of her stances on issues, (3) I was angry with the super delegates who had been bribed with campaign money to support her, and (4) I was furious with the DNC for the way they treated Bernie, his supporters, his delegates and even his volunteers.
What changed my mind was the trip through several counties (Bradford, Wyoming, Luzerne) on my way to Wilkes-Barre the weekend before the election. I specifically paid attention to the political signs I saw. At least half the homes and businesses had no signs at all. The ones with signs were 85% for Trump and the rest were for other Republican candidates for Congress. Not a single sign was for Hillary. I also forced myself to vote for Katie McGinty, one of the worst Dem establishment candidates they could have picked; she had a shady past and claimed being a mom was a reason to vote for her. Previously I had always voted for Sestak, a truly honest and caring man whom the Establishment hated.
Finally, there is the current trend of “No more voting for the lesser of two evils.” For example, Trump won Florida by 113,000 votes over Clinton. But more than 130,000 voters voted for neither of them, preferring to write in other people or even cartoon characters.
I should have thought to include fracking! PA is a very interesting state, since it’s at the confluence of fracking and logistics and I imagine other things.
I think we need to start looking at the flyover states as colonies. That is surely what’s going on with fracking, the hog lagoons, Big Ag generally, the data centers, the warehouses, the landfills….
Trump’s win would be — speculating freely — an alliance between the screwed over working class and the equally desperate (for their own reasons) compradors..
Hubris, Sycophancy, Arrogance and “Entitlement” (and ignorance) defeated both the French in 1940 and the Democrats in 2016.
No need for any extended verbiage.
> No need for any extended verbiage.
Well, only if you don’t care about actual analysis, as opposed to posturing and sloganeering. Honestly, if you’re not comfortable with long-form pieces, it’s a big Internet. I suggest Facebook.
Interesting analysis but it left out the real method of Democratic victory and why it didn’t work this time. Therefore fundamentally wrong.
The real way Dems won for a long time was manufacturing votes, either illegal (multiple, dead etc.) voters, or manipulating the vote count (e.g. Detroit counting votes 6 or more times.) These things happened this time, but the Dems like to poll so that they know just how many votes to manufacture.
Apparently this time their polls were off and they manufactured too few votes. (Why didn’t Hillary go to these states? Because she knew that holding pitiful rallies wouldn’t help, and it would all be fixed at the back anyway.) If only they had counted Hillary votes 20 times apiece in Detroit rather than 6, they might have won Michigan, for example. But their polling was off. That’s why in their shock at losing the election, their first reaction was to talk about polling!
And why was the polling off? Because many centipedes like me lied to the pollsters, because we calculated a bit ahead.
That’s why Trump won, in addition to being a magnificent candidate who will be a great president.
Satire? Surely this is satire.
Detroit, for one. For you to deny this evidence which I even cited already means you are ignoring whatever evidence you see.
Artichoke, how you’re describing what happened in Detroit sounds inaccurate. And even when one is correct, Yves and Lambert will ask for links. Lambert’s asked me to provide links for positions he agrees with me on. Asking for evidence is the opposite of being ignored. In your initial comment, you didn’t provide evidence, you made assertions. The next step is linking to the evidence you are drawing on in making your assertions.
I think you’re referencing the mismatch that turned up in Detroit in the attempted recount, between the tallies and the actual ballots. They should have been identical, but the tallies were much higher, which strongly suggested a tidy form of ballot box rigging by the party running the precincts, which IIRC would have been the Democrats.
Is this what you were referencing? http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2016/12/12/records-many-votes-detroits-precincts/95363314/
That’s the kind of thing Lambert is asking for here. I think there may be some evidence of Trump voters intentionally misleading pollsters. If you can find a link to real evidence, bring it here. I suspect you’re overstating it. But that’s why providing the evidence is so helpful. If you’ve got the evidence, your argument will be respected (at least by me, and I think the NC community generally.)
In the interests of full disclosure, I do not believe Trump will be a great president. But I do believe him being elected was the better outcome of the two we were left with. What are your favorite policy positions of his?
And then there’s this other post:
Put the NC analysis with this and the big picture is that people voted for the perceived (perceived only, not actual) candidate of change each time beginning in 2008.
So nowhere in the big picture or the micro-analysis of the elections should the Beltway denizens be dreaming they can win big by being “business as usual” – unless that business is discouragement and/or oppression of potential voters.