How Hillary Lost: It was she that got off message down the stretch, not Donald!!
While it is early in poll and voting analyses to draw any final conclusions, one overlooks the importance of staying on message down the home stretch at their own peril. This obviously includes making the right priorities in determining how the short time allotted to candidates in campaign rallies (and the television coverage of those speeches) is spent–in short, which messages should be stressed. I would argue that Hillary contributed mightily to her own demise based on some of the data that has been revealed even this early, as well as my own observations–made now and in the past.
Sure, FBI Director Comey’s meddling in the election where and when he shouldn’t have no doubt played a big part in the outcome, as did latent racism among the large cohort of white, low educated, men and women. (More on the latter gender-group’s voting patterns in a moment). Those were known going into the final ten or so days, and despite those influences, a solid victory was still in reach by Hillary, only she ignored the obvious need to deal with economic messages. The kind of messages that answered Trump’s constant tying Hillary’s support for free-trade agreements to both the actual loss of jobs as well as fear of losing them. This left an imbalance in messaging on the topic that Trump gladly took advantage of. Simple put, she didn’t pay the required attention to the well established truism: “It’s the economy stupid!” Instead she spent way too much of her available message-giving time preaching gender-specific messages to the choir, as it were, to no practical avail that I can discern. Indeed, exit polling seems to show that her support from white women went down in the final weeks as white women actually voted more for Trump than Hillary, garnering 53 percent of their vote.
Long ago I wrote of the need for Hillary to develop a coherent policy to meet the needs of those most negatively affected by the trade agreements, and to hammer that message home to the voters on the campaign trail. She didn’t. Instead, they were treated to the oft heard recitations of Hillary’s fights for women through the years, her glass ceiling metaphor, or working up the many female rally attendees to join in on “go girl” and “I’m with her” chants. Meanwhile, the voters most affected by the loss of jobs issue listened to Trump speaking to them, staying on message (at least during the final days leading up to the election) and more of them (and their wives who were also affected by the same economic problems) voted for Trump than the Democrats had expected. This happened all along the rust belt and it turned states supposedly in her column into losses, and that, more than any other single factor, is what cost her the election. Added to her problems in the rust belt was her decision to visit Arizona late while ignoring Wisconsin and Michigan, no doubt considering them solid Democratic states–a conclusion that in Wisconsin, at least, ignored the failure of Democrats in the recall election against anti-union Governor Walker. Perhaps she relied on data provided by the unions there–whose judgment must be treated with caution because of their misses on the same recall election. One also wonders at how effectively she used Bernie Sanders in the rust belt states late in the campaigning.
As for latent racism and sexism, yes they obviously exist, and surely played a part in the outcome, but in a sentence that you are likely to hear repeated many times in the coming days, the same “racist electorate” that voted in Trump also elected Barack Obama as their President, and then re-elected him four years later. That racism wasn’t the deciding factor in explaining Hillary’s downfall, it was her ineffective, and under-emphasized economic/jobs message, to rebuff Trump’s loud attacks on her trade policies, blaming her for the worker’s problems. It seems that she didn’t learn a lesson from Bernie’s (and Donald’s in the Republican primaries) success with his economics message against her and didn’t pay enough attention to poll after poll that indicated jobs and the economy were number one on the list of concerns for the voters. Donald got it and, surprisingly stayed on message at the end. Hillary didn’t.