Former First Lady and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton recently released her book, What Happened, and started on a media blitz. The book recaps the 2016 presidential election and takes a look at her perspective of the events that led up to her eventual defeat at the (tiny) hands of Donald Trump. Someone else is speaking out as to what he thinks happened. That man is the former pollster, Stan Greenberg. Greenberg was the chief pollster for both of Bill Clinton’s campaigns, as well as Al Gore’s bid in 2000.
On September 21st, Greenberg wrote an article in the American Prospect entitled, “Why She Lost.” I’d highly recommend reading the whole thing when you have an opportunity. Some of the more interesting tidbits of the essay are that Hillary’s campaign did zero state polling the last three weeks of the campaign. Instead, they decided to use data analytics of voter turnout, voter history, etc in its place. The overall belief among chief Clinton campaign strategists was that even though the Democratic Party was fractured after a bruising primary with Bernie Sanders, Trump’s attacks on Hillary would be enough to consolidate the party enough to rally around her. Because of this false assumption, the campaign didn’t do many ad buys in areas of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and other states that would have tipped the election in Mrs. Clinton’s favor.
Hillary’s trust issues came into play. American’s didn’t particularly trust her based on her email scandal, and the fact that Democrats didn’t trust her either for her ties to Wall Street and things only compacted the issue. Even though members of the Obama White House encouraged her campaign to get out front of these issues and address them head-on, the Clinton team again thought that doing so would distract from Trump’s incendiary remarks and only help him in his quest to win the presidency.
Another issue for the Clinton camp was their devotion to President Obama. As previously mentioned, many of the people on her campaign had worked either in the Obama a White House or on his two races for White House. Because of this, Hillary found a hard time striking a balance of on the economy. In her mind, her time in the Obama administration made it impossible for her to criticize the results of the Obama economy that she was seeing in campaign stops without saying that the president had been a failure in economic regards. Her reluctance to distance herself too far from Mr. Obama left the economic message for Mr. Trump to craft to his own liking with Hillary feeling like she was unable to combat it without admitting that the Obama administration economic policies hadn’t had the effect they were intended to have. Or at least the reach that they were supposed to have had.
The essay ends with this question that Mr. Greenberg: “Can you simultaneously advance identity and class politics.” For all the interesting insights that are in the essay, this one sentence explains everything that is wrong with today’s Democratic Party. A political organization should not profit because they divide and subdivide the American electorate into the haves and the have-nots. They should not attempt to micro-target women over men, gay over straight, Latino, Asian and African American over white, poor over rich. It’s this constant dividing of Americans into different groups, and pandering to certain groups is a large part of the problem that we have in our political climate today.
No candidate should try to advance identity politics or class politics. We are seeing right now what happens when a president or political leader tries to turn American against American. Our politicians should advance policies that allow all Americans a chance to be more successful in life, and enhance all of our liberties, not only a select few.
So for all of Mr. Greenberg’s knowledge, to which I know he has a considerable amount, if the main lesson he learned from Hillary’s defeat is that she didn’t do enough to advance class, gender, race, etc division in this country; then he really hasn’t learned the most important lesson of 2016. Which is that many Americans feel they already lived through eight years of that under President Obama, and they didn’t want more. The greatest shame is that this insistence on subdividing America has left us with someone as uniquely unqualified and dangerous to run this country as Donald Trump is.
The sooner the Democratic Party can learn that lesson, the sooner we can rid ourselves of the petulant narcissist currently residing in the White House.