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Sixty-Five Million Cracks

The glow of victory can make virtually any campaign look brilliant. The harsh fluorescent light of defeat can make any losing campaign look as dumb as a bag of bricks. Yet while it’s true that such verdicts are often overdetermined, campaign competence and effectiveness are not static. Some are run well, others are run poorly, and as astonishingly as it may sound there is a correlation between how well and poorly a campaign is run and whether they won or lost. Contrary to popular belief there are, in fact, persuadables, and swing voters, who were influenced by actions and events besides (though obviously including) the Comey Letter. The 2016 was not, as Sam Wang and the Huffington Post declared, a remarkably stable election.

There were three things I kept trying to remember as I worked through Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign. The unnamed sources appear to mostly come from staff rather than Clinton’s inner circle, for example, and that’s significant. The book is not great about spelling out when things were said and it makes a difference if it were things they said after the fact or that they were talking about during the campaign. And the third is the the glows and harsh lighting mentioned above. Even granting all of that, the book itself was informative in changing the spotlight to what I had perceived the balance problems and liabilities of the campaign to be, and what they may actually have been the balance of problems and liabilities.

One of the thoughts that kept crossing my mind as I was getting through the book was how much Hillary Clinton might have benefited from having been a governor. Usually when people say this they mean that being governor makes you more electable, or that it’s generally better experience. But this is not a general sentiment about governorships versus senate seats, but something specific to Hillary Clinton. Her boosters like to argue that she was the most qualified candidate in history. While that’s not exactly true, volume of experience was certainly never cause for alarm when it came to her. Having previously been a booster of cabinet work as an underrated qualification for the presidency, I find myself wondering whether that’s true.

It turns out that there were real gaps in her leadership ability that time as an executive – especially of a large state like New York or Illinois – might have helped get out of her system or at least learn from. Some of the problems I associate with her are more “Clinton” problems rather than specific to Hillary, but either Bill Clinton got away with it due to other strengths that Hillary Clinton lacked, or the Clintons actually got more Clintonian over time. Either way, campaigns are hard places to change habits, and being Secretary of State didn’t do it. Maybe being a governor wouldn’t have, either, but I ended up grasping for whatever I could find.

Since the release of the book, a lot of attention has been drawn to specific decisions made by the candidate and campaign. Most notably Bill Clinton imploring the campaign to spend time in the hinterlands that would ultimately decide the election, and campaign manage Robbie Mook saying that the data contradicted him. The fact that a key interview was given to a news outlet on the basis of what was basically a verbal typo. The decision to avoid Michigan precisely because it was close. Hindsight is always 20/20 and many of the authors’ criticisms of the campaign assumed that all of the problems were forseeable. This isn’t about small but consequential errors that benefit from hindsight, though. It’s not about criticizing a coach for calling a running play only to find the backfield entirely empty after the ball was snapped. This is as much as anything about dye that had been cast prior to the team really even getting into the field. When you lose one of the biggest upsets in modern presidential history, mistakes were made.

And in the case of the Clinton campaign, the mistakes we might have seen were symptomatic of deeper problems. Or one specific problem: Hillary Rodham Clinton. I went into it expecting that the campaign itself would look bad. It’s there in all of the promotional literature as well as the early reviews. Besides, everybody knows she never went to Wisconsin. What I didn’t expect as much was to go into it having such a dour view of Clinton herself. It’s not hard to see why, whether the constituency is New York or the whole nation, she has underperformed in virtually every election she’s been in (2006 is contestable). I had attributed a lot of this to Clinton’s persona, that she isn’t particularly likable and there are at least perceptions of ethical concerns. The problems the book reveals go beyond that, though, into a leadership deficit that almost certainly would have followed her into the Oval Office.

That candidate Hillary Clinton had liabilities is not news. What really jumps out, however, are her liabilities as an administrator. She apparently believes that she has twice now been failed by her own campaigns. It becomes pretty obvious early in the book, however, that she created the very environment that failed her. The most important part of the book was not a decision about Michigan or a TV interview, but very early on when you found out that she read through the campaign emails from her 2008 election and came to the determination that she was not failed in that election due to typical campaign blunders, but because of a lack of loyalty. Before her next campaign gets started, she has everybody on a list with values of 1 to 7 assigned according to how loyal she believed they had been.

What follows is predictable to anyone who has worked in a dysfunctional, low-trust office environment. People close to her don’t come to her with problems, don’t voice their concerns, and don’t tell her when she’s wrong. People further out have to circumvent the campaign apparatus to do so. Mistakes and misconceptions made go uncorrected. In some cases because the people on the campaign themselves miss it, but in others because they follow incentives where loyalty is conflated with support for a given course of action. This tactic especially can’t be combined with a Team of Rivals concept, where factional advantage can be more easily gained through the appearance of loyalty than any other and secrecy is already a part of the culture. Hillary Clinton was not being told what she needed to hear. Team Mook was not being told things by Team Podesta, and vice-versa. Combine all that with a fluid-non-hierarchial command structure and bad decisions are simply inevitable.

The end result was not only mistakes being made, but what turned out to be some of the biggest ones (handling of the email scandal, persuadables vs base, state resource allocations) were left without any sort of correction mechanism. And even when a problem was recognized, at least vaguely, as a problem by the candidate herself, there wasn’t a chain of command or any real way to pivot and make a change. The fact that Clinton never set foot in Wisconsin mattered less than that such an error was possible. That there, as the campaign winded down, they knew they had lost Ohio and Iowa and that those states had a fair amount in common with Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota… and it was more inertia than deliberate choice that they kept her campaigning in Arizona. That they bet the entire farm on analytic models that didn’t pan out, and even after they lost were left feeling like there was nothing else they really could have done.

These issues appeared over and over again, in one form or another. It did not especially matter to me that Clinton did not disclose her Wall Street speeches, but her rationale – it doesn’t matter because haters are gonna hate no matter what they do – was cringeworthy, and contributed to the email would never closing and in a way later to the bad publicity surrounding the pneumonia. This was a case where the campaign itself (reportedly) did what it should have, trying to convince her not to have that attitude, but to no avail. Notably, by the end the higher-ups had stopped trying to convince Clinton of anything (other than to ignore the people in the field). Even one of the few things I considered to be strictly a combination of a candidate problem and bad luck – the “deplorables” comment – was itself partly a result of campaign disorganization. It was everywhere you turn.

I tend to be a sympathetic reader and viewer. You can give me a compelling story of anyone this side of Mussolini and I will find myself rooting for them at points despite myself, even in cases where the second I put the book down I am glad they failed or wish they had. It was no different from Hillary, who I didn’t wish to fail. Early on, especially as the groundwork was being laid for just how questionable an administrator – and thus, would be as president – she was likely to be, my mind bounced back and forth between believing that we really dodged a bullet by not electing her and remembering the bigger bullet we collectively stepped into. But despite all of the above, Clinton was also the victim of a concerted effort on the part of the Russians. She faced an opponent (albeit the one she wanted) who nobody D or R could quite get a handle on. And she faced some unusual bad luck.

I also found myself sympathetic to some of the flaws that she does have, many of which I resent being such a big deal. I found myself actually frustrated on her behalf during the primaries while Bernie Sanders was skating by on notions that can barely even be called ideas with no roadmap or substance. At the time, as the primaries were unfolding I was somewhat ambivalent between Clinton and Sanders, but I came away from the book squarely in her corner. The constant reactionary state of the campaign speaks to many of the leadership issues above, but they were at least attempting to solve real-world problems pragmatically. That shouldn’t be unusual, but in the 2016 election it somehow managed to be. And while I was reluctant to buy into the book’s narrative that All She Ever Wanted Was To Do Good, one did at least get the impression she had a firm good-bad orientation in her perspective when it came to public policy.

The good news for Democrats is that she’s not running again. With any luck, the spectacle of the 2016 election fell almost entirely on her weaknesses as a candidate and a leader. That leaves infinite room for the possibility that the next person will do much better without giving much or any ground on policy. For people like me, it even gives a little bit of hope that a Clintonian party can survive without falling to Warrenism. While I would strongly recommend against relying on that, one potential upshot is that while Clinton’s loss was bad for the country it may have been quite good for the party in a way it appears Clinton’s presidency was never, ever going to be.

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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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564 thoughts on “Sixty-Five Million Cracks

  1. Bill Clinton provided a stay of execution for the arc of American politics beginning with FDR. I am never sure exactly what Obama did[1] ( it looks like Nixon with much better stage direction ) but the programme is exhausted. Hillary took several for the team. She also continued to try to win a debate after, with nobody in particular. She managed to make earnest striving look like a sucker bet.

    [1] forgive me please, but parallels to “Blazing Saddles” are impossible to avoid.

    There is not a lot of there there. Fortunately ( in terms of symmetry ) , a similar erosion of the Republicans is in play. With the Republicans, the gaping maw of nihil at their core is unfortunately visible now. Such are the wages of consumerism in ‘values’.

    Perhaps we’re leaving the stage where the word “politics” means “willfully choosing ‘values’ which allow me to be belligerent in the face of facts.” Its is much more likely that the essential mix of policies now in play are simply on autopilot. It’s all left to the directors and generals.

    We appear to be utterly incapable of investing the legislature with any sense of vigor. The American people have spoken, and they are saying “No”.

    Given what I see, I don’t know what people are tired *of*, but they seem most certainly to be tired.

    I have heard two things in the autopsy of the 2016 election that landed punches.

    One, Matt Taibbi’s description of the mix of sheer boredom and terror of the actual .. logistics and show business of campaigning points to a sort of breaking point. Taibbi doesn’t exactly channel Hunter Thompson but the same comedic tones show through.

    Two, PJ O’Rourke’s description of the loggers bedeviled by thick regulatory tomes certainly seems like something worthy of exhaustion.

    I got nothing else. I feel a nap coming on.


  2. “She apparently believes that she has twice now been failed by her own campaigns. It becomes pretty obvious early in the book, however, that she created the very environment that failed her. ”

    Yeah, this is a big problem. Her campaign failed HER. No way it could have been her that failed. Gee, that kinda sounds like something a lot of people would attribute to our current president.


    • No it was the Russians and the fbi. Just keep saying this while holding your fingers in your ears. She needs to retire and become a crazy cat lady except that might be cruel to the cats.


      • With the margin she lost by it was the Russians and the FBI. Or anything else. Basically any one of her assorted failures and mistakes was the tipping point. Had she done one less thing wrong or suffered one less trick then she would have won.
        So assuredly it’s on Comey for throwing the election, sure, but it’s still on Hillary, above all else, for letting herself get into a position where some tricky Russians or a cringing FBI director could provide the final straw. Sad as I am for her there’s no denying she’ll always be the politician who lost to Trump and it will haunt her to the end.


            • If it’s relevant to say that she was one break away from winning, it’s relevant to say that she was one break away from losing worse. Every campaign depends on situations as they break, and not every break went against her.


              • A lot of potential Trump voters stayed home or cast protest votes because they had had it drummed into their heads that she was winning in a landslide. If your vote doesn’t matter, why not vote for Evan McMullin or Jill Stein? If Hillary has it locked up, why even bother to vote for HER?

                I think the media coverage may have hurt her badly, but it also may have helped her greatly. We’ll never know.


        • The bright side is that she lost to Trump. Had she been elected, her terms surely would have been a continuous series of serious scandals, much like her entire life. She was going to keep the Clinton Initiative active, and said she saw no reason to shut it down. She was going to keep Chelsea in charge of it. Rampant opportunity for graft and corruption, anyone? Talk about putting US foreign policy up for sale to the highest bidder, that would have turned us into the average banana republic. And of course she’d already sold out to just about everyone on Wall Street, and those donations would’ve kept pouring in. And of course no one in the mainstream press would dare call her on any of it, so the corruption would become rampant.

          As it stands, the Clinton Initiative closed down. Her influence peddling operation ran out of inventory.


          • She was going to keep the Clinton Initiative active, and said she saw no reason to shut it down. She was going to keep Chelsea in charge of it. Rampant opportunity for graft and corruption, anyone? Talk about putting US foreign policy up for sale to the highest bidder, that would have turned us into the average banana republic. And of course she’d already sold out to just about everyone on Wall Street, and those donations would’ve kept pouring in.

            Whoa, I’m so glad we avoided all that!


  3. That’s a good review of a book I’ve no interest to read, but some interest in what it said. Thanks.

    Since we’ve trod this ground before, I’ll only add as a new thought (I think) that American politics is in a weird spot vis-a-vis Parties and Candidates: One part Avatar and One part Leader… we can’t decide if we want the elect the person or the party… and it seems that when we elect the one, we get the other.


    • I’m also grateful to Will but uninterested in reading the book. It’s very rare that a post-event report will be more than gossip and feud-settling, at least in my experience. Maybe years later the people involved can be more objective, but by then a narrative will have taken over (maybe even one unrelated to the initial reports), so it’s still hard to sort through the stories.

      It’s easy to believe that she had a Nixonian level of openness in her campaign, but I suspected that already.


      • Well, I’m all over the map when it comes to electoral systems… parliamentary sounds fun – until you realize you’ve elected a 6-yr (soft-)dictatorship. In one world you could say that Trump couldn’t win a Parliamentary slate, in another you marvel at how he controls the destinies of all the little people whose votes he needs.

        Proportional representation sounds great too, until the massive factionalism and single issue parties presents problems for governance.

        Plus, there’s the simple fact that as willing as *I’d* be to rolling the dice on some shiny new electoral systems, there’s no real way to get there from here.

        In my atrophied Political Science muscles, I’d imagine a new party that is a sort of data modeled set of factions… Imagine the three legged stool of the republican party, but with a much clearer set of policy agenda items where factions trade support upto a certain point and no further. Imagine as well factions shopping both (or multiple parties) I could see that as an out-of-the-blue paradigm shift of how to build a political faction… but absent the controls of electoral systems to impose discipline, it would be easily manipulated or co-opted. But still, perhaps a model worth experimenting with.


        • The positive of a x year soft dictatorship is both sides can go, “we did this, isn’t it great” or “they did that, isn’t it terrible” and have an election based on that instead of “hey, we really want to do y, but inane rules you don’t understand meant z can stop us.”

          After all, nobody in the UK is confused about the the Tories have done over the past five or six years for the most part.


          • Agreed; that’s certainly a positive dynamic. We just have to get used to fewer vetoes. We say we want fewer vetoes, but we really want the other team to have fewer vetoes; our vetoes are in the best interests of the country.


            • I’ve been consistent in my hatred of the Senate, the filibuster, and the many veto points of the US structure when the Democrat’s held the Senate, when Republican’s have held the Senate, or even if space aliens held the Senate.

              I could be guaranteed 100 clones of myself in the Senate, and I’d still want it be wiped from the face of the earth.

              Majority rules seems to work in the rest of the Western world. I don’t see why we’ll collapse if things can actually pass via this weird way of one side having more votes than the other.


              • Makes it easier to push through on a razor-thin margin the kind of cockamamie laws Congress is always trying to push through on razor-thin margins. The law should be biased in favor of stability, because changing the law is a big deal. Why shouldn’t it require broad consensus, rather than the barest of majorities?

                Count me as a consistent vote for more vetoes, regardless of who’s in power.


                • If it’s a cockamamie law and it’s so obvious, the people will turf out the people who voted for this obviously cockamamie law and overturn it.

                  I’d also argue parliamentary republics in the Western world are more stable than the US. After all, Europe doesn’t have a party that still has a party that wants to disassemble large portions of the welfare state or the sexual revolution.

                  The Republican Party is far more radical than any center-right party in Europe.


        • In one world you could say that Trump couldn’t win a Parliamentary slate…

          It seems hard to imagine Trump pulling off the same thing he did this cycle if the UK rules were used: (a) he would have had to be supported by enough Republicans already in Congress to get on the slate sent to party members, (b) party membership as a percentage of voters is very small (less than 2% of all UK voters actually belong to a party, IIRC), and (c) the campaign and voting schedule for leader is greatly compressed.

          I am woefully under-informed about historical parliamentary details in the UK or Canada. Are there any famous cases of parties picking someone who is as much an outsider as Trump as leader?


              • It should!

                But yeah… it all depends on how the new hypothetical regime is set up. You can have parliamentary systems with weak parties (typically fptp) and parliamentary systems with very strong parties (typically slate voting)… so some (all) of these questions are begged by what route we take and why.


                    • In a parliamentary system, whoever sat in his chair would probably have been chosen by the ruling party members rather than the public, so I’m pretty sure it would be someone other than Donald Trump.


                      • Parliaments don’t get to pick the royal family. At most they get to decide whether Princess Ivanka can ascend the throne instead of Donald Trump Jr. Given Title IX, the answer will probably be “yes”.

                        And did you notice that yesterday six-year old Princess Arabella brought a plate of donuts to the Secret Service agents who guard her parents? That’s so Machiavellian that it makes Machiavelli look like Pee Wee Herman. Arabella is playing the long game, and building key relationships with the allies she’ll need when it’s time to make her move.


                        • Sorry, I thought somebody wrote “parliamentary system” rather than “absolute monarchy.” I totally agree with you that if we were an absolute monarchy and Trump was the monarch, he’d be an absolute monarch.

                          I also have little doubt that he’d be the type people write about centuries later.


          • As big of outsiders as Trump have tried to run for leadership of a major party in Canada, since the ill-considered move to make party leadership subject entirely to vote by everyone with a party membership rather than support by caucus. Nobody has come close to winning the position though.


        • If the Upper House of your WSA has a Senate like the US does, good luck getting California, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado to agree to be ruled by the whims of a couple of states with less people in them than some of their suburbs.


          • Huge state size differentials is one of the toughest nuts to crack. To get everybody to sign on, Wyoming would probably not have equal representation as Washington, but also would also probably have more than 1/12th.


  4. People who pine for the Clintons didn’t know them very well.

    It’s hard to keep a campaign running when everyone sane wants to run for the hills.

    “Bad Luck” is a truly funny way to describe the reason why Clinton didn’t campaign for half of October.


  5. Since I’m talking about it elsewhere, does the book cover the pre-season – i.e. assembling the campaign, getting the survey of the landscape, assessing the competition? basically the period between November 2012 and February 2015?


  6. Hillary Clinton: “I’m now back to being an activist citizen, and part of the resistance.” https://t.co/f9vXuVKGFE https://t.co/SChoV3nbbL— CNN (@CNN) May 2, 2017

    this clip demonstrates everything that’s wrong with Hillary Clinton

    “I can’t be anything other than who I am” – oh, only if that were the case

    “I spent decades learning what it would take to move our country forward” – you really should have said something about this last year, then

    #shebringspeace – whu-whu-whuht? Hillary Clinton, who never met a war she didn’t love at first sight?

    “I’m now back to being an activist citizen and part of The Resistance” Well, as long as you don’t attend any more of Donald Trump’s weddings, I guess you’ll do a decent enough job in your new line of work.


    • I believe the theory that Clinton was trying to get Trump elected is still unfalsified.

      This new data allows for us to point to Clinton doing everything she can to shore up Trump’s support.


  7. I remember all the stories about how disorganized Bill Clinton’s White House was, but that didn’t seem to have much of an impact on his overall performance as president – it just seemed to annoy certain people. Mind you, I don’t like to be so disorganized.

    There are so many different lenses you can use to look at this election, and this one is perfectly valid, but it’s only one. You could look at fundamentals, too, and say she outperformed them. You could look at Obama-Trump voters (about 8 percent of the electorate) and say she underperformed. You could look at the poll trends the last 2 weeks of the election and note how she crashed right after the FBI interfered in the election. You could look at Trumps approve-disapprove numbers now and say she underperformed. In some sense, all of those things are true.

    I especially appreciate your description of her as trying to solve real-world problems pragmatically. Yep, that was the appeal. I kind of agree with your conclusion, too.


    • Clinton’s white house wasn’t nearly as chaotic as people think. He liked a lot of opinions (remember him calling in all sides on the issue at hand?), and would make up his own mind at the end of the day (often after his staffers had made a different decision).


  8. A presidential campaign is essentially a long, ruthless job interview. And like all interviews, you really need to both be on your game, presenting the best side of yourself possible, and understand the lay of the land, IE what that set of interviewers is specifically looking for.

    HRC showed she did neither. And thus didn’t get the job.

    One of the things that has come out of the reviews of Shattered is that there was no central message as to why vote for her. No MAGA, so to speak. And couple that with all the management failures, investigations, hacking, etc., it showed that she. wasn’t. presidential. material.

    At best, she would have been an HW after Reagan. A zombie candidate running on fumes, elected due to coattails and opposition party failure.


    • Clinton would not have won the popular vote if your analysis was correct. She did win the popular vote and won it by a whopping three million votes. I’m tired of anti-Clinton people acting like Trump won the popular vote.


      • How does my opinion led to that, the idea that by winning in small but populous areas (and not even winning a majority, I might add) she would be more that HW? HW won the popular vote, won the electoral vote, but still got there with no specific reason for voting for him than “I Was With Him!” And was gone in 4.

        And again, not being able to take into account the need for an electoral victory speaks to her not understanding the lay of the land. And I never said that Trump won the pop vote, only that he won.

        Face it, she wasn’t competent enough politically to get there. Even against Trump.


      • She won the popular vote by campaigning in New York and California, over and over and over again. Take away just California and she lost the popular vote.


        • Again this is pure right-wing crankery, you are basically saying that New Yorkers and Californians are not real Americans and people of color are not real Americans.

          So fish you very much. Geographic distribution does not cancel whether someone was an American citizen.


          • People in California and New York were allowed to vote. Their votes were counted. Their states’ votes in the electoral college were counted. Hillary came up short, badly short.

            Shall we review the election rules again, even though those haven’t changed in centuries?

            I guess it’s easier to accept that the Russians hacked the election.


          • How is he saying “you are basically saying that New Yorkers and Californians are not real Americans and people of color are not real Americans.?” Did he say that Trump took away their votes? No, they got to vote. Is he saying that the votes didn’t count? No, they counted in tallying California’s electoral votes.

            But those votes were a given. And under the system that is in place to elect the POTUS, well, you need to get as many other states as possible. There is no popular vote election for POTUS. And much like the world series, you need to win a majority of the contests, not just enbiggen the ones you like.


            • It’s just a repeat of “But the Broncos got more offensive yardage!”

              A campaign generates a ton of statistics, but the goal is 270 to win. There’s even an election website named “270toWin”.


              • Well, it’s more like acting like a soccer team was terrible even though it got more goals than the other team because in the American version of soccer, the only thing that mattered was how long you had the ball on your side of the field.


                • Unfortunately I am compelled to point out that Trump literally and figuratively scored more goals in the game he was playing… the possession argument is the one being made on the Clinton side.

                  But Analogies are fraught with danger, like swift rapids full of sharp blades.


            • If GT suggests taking away one state gives Trump the PV why not suggest taking away Texas or Florida and see what that does. Trump won in the score column that matters. But he lost the PV which has such obvious implications for his actual popularity that R’s are pretty bent about it.


              • But again, Hillary only won 48% of the popular vote, and the popular vote doesn’t matter not just because we don’t use it, but because it’s not a good measure because we don’t use it. By that I mean we don’t know how the turnout would have been in a hypothetical popular vote contest. Once one candidate is assured of victory in a state, many voters don’t go to the polls because they already know how their state’s EC vote will go. And states vary in turnout for other reasons, such as what else is on their local ballots.

                It’s back to claiming that the Broncos won more offensive yardage. But if games were decided by offensive yardage both teams would have played very differently, and the yardage stats would have come out completely different.

                Trump didn’t bother campaigning in New York, New Jersey, California, and many other places. Many Trump supporters likely didn’t bother turning out in those states. Hillary didn’t campaign in Wisconsin. She didn’t campaign in a lot of places that turned out to be crucial.

                But then she couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t 50 points ahead.


                • If Trump had won the pop vote you would be touting that as proof he has a mandate. If it didn’t bother him he lost the PV he wouldn’t have lied about it. You don’t like the implications of winning the EC while losing the PV so you blow smoke around it. If he wins the PV and EC in 2020 you will tell us all how great it was he won the PV.


            • I’d also like to point out that in California (just like my home state of Washington) a LOT of conservative voters don’t even bother. You know your vote will not matter, so it’s easy to stay home because you know your state’s electoral votes will always go blue. I don’t think we can know what might have happened had the vote been popular instead of electoral. There are a lot of voters in California and not all of them live in San Francisco.


              • This works in all directions… Dems in Blue States who see it as an easy win, Dems in Red States who see it as a lost cause, GOPers in Red States who see it as an easy win, and GOPers in Blue States who see it as a lost cause.

                I agree that trying to make sense of the popular vote when the rules are other has limited usage.

                But what I struggle with is folks (not you!) who take the position that, “We have no idea what would have happened if it was a popular vote… SO OBVIOUSLY MY GUY WOULDA WON!”


      • I’m tired of anti-Clinton people acting like Trump won the popular vote.

        And this comment, right here, is why Democrats can’t have nice things. Moral victories.

        As the saying goes, Hillary had just one job: to win the EC vote. She didn’t. Why should anyone give a rats behind that she won the popular vote?


        • You’re letting the Clinton hate get in your eyes. She lost the EC true enough. But PV tells a lot about whether the actual population supports the prez and their priorities. It should matter, but it doesn’t, regarding the parties trying to cooperate. It’s a descriptive stat that people always look at after ever election to try to understand what happened. Why should we not use that descriptive stat in this case when we have after every past election. All of C’s failures are not the answer to that.

          Or put it another way, if Clinton won the EC but lost the PV would R’s ever stop talking about it. It would be a rallying cry, a reason to fight everything, a powerful motivator for the next election and it would be shot of energy they would never put down. Heck the hyper sensitivity of Trump and the Trumpets to the fact he lost the PV should tell you that is has an actual meaning.


          • Or put it another way, if Clinton won the EC but lost the PV would R’s ever stop talking about it.

            I don’t understand this logic at all. (Or maybe I do but find it baffling nonetheless). The purpose of a campaign is to win an election. Clinton lost. And she lost for some very identifiable reasons, including but not limited to her tactics and strategy in the Rust Belt states.


            • True and of course Comey and the Russians. If the R’s had lost with the PV on their side and meddling by the FBI and the Russians we would be hearing about forever and the conservatives on this site would be telling us how tainted Clinton’s victory is and the energy from their loss would be used to propel them in 18 and 20. D’s damn well should be harnessing all the energy they can get for 18 and 20 and part of that is rallying their folks with the very true line that a majority voted for Clinton ( even with all her faults).


              • greg,
                a majority didn’t vote for clinton. she won PV on plurality alone.
                And every time someone says that they can’t do math, I lose respect for them.

                You know, like Krugman.


              • But if the Democrats keep that as their focus, they’ll probably run Hillary again in 2020, because Hillary is all about loyalty.

                The Democrats haven’t been doing any productive soul searching, and they face multiple dangers.

                1) Anti-Trump anarchists are becoming the public face of the “resistance”, throwing fireworks at cops, knocking out windows, and setting fires. Normal people don’t like that, and that’s how you go from 51-49 to 40-60 or 30-70.

                2) The focus on Hillary and the Presidential election removes the focus from winning state and local elections, except perhaps in the tiny blue urban areas, which again, are shoe-ins for Democrats so they don’t generate much interest. The Democrats lost a thousand seats because Obama and Hillary sucked all the oxygen out of the room. Democrats have been doing especially poorly in off-year elections.

                3) Hillary is all about loyalty, and her minions, the ones who utterly failed Democrats in 2016, still have tremendous influence in the party. They’ll be ready to purge any Democrat politician who dares to suggest that Hillary was a horrible candidate or that the Democratic primaries were rigged, and a disaster. So the rot will continue, and more Democrat voters will defect, either to the progressive/anarchist wing (see 1) or to Trump.

                4) Hillary supporters are often seen lashing out at “Bernie Bros” and others they suspect of disloyalty, and they’re so hysterical that they think Hillary’s loss is the crisis of the age. So they are quick to declare other Democrats as enemies and traitors. Well, people don’t like being the target of hateful, vicious attacks, and the progressive insistence on political and ideological purity, and their propensity to attack their own, will drive former supporters into the Republican camp.

                Some of this has been going on for a while, and it results in the 2016 precinct map, where there are tiny blue islands in a sea of red.

                The over-the-top, deranged vindictiveness, hatred, and violence will just shrink those islands, as if they’re sinking into the sea.


              • True and of course Comey and the Russians.

                Comey, in my view, is a non-starter since the whole email mess was just series of unforced Hillary errors. She brought that all on herself.


                • No Still. Just no. Clinton made plenty of errors and had plenty of faults. But that doesn’t in any way mean Comey’s behavior wasn’t inappropriate and affect the election. I think even the Official OT Numbers Guy said Comey likely had an affect and could have swung the election. We can’t just give a pass to the FBI putting a pallet of thumbs on the scales because of a flawed candidate. That is a non sequitur. The FBI needs to be better and do better or else we may end up with more thumbs on the scales again. Same thing with Russian meddling, that really is a bad thing on its own and no matter what flaws Clinton had. This is where i mentioned the Clinton hate blinding people. No matter she was, Russian meddling and the FBI are BFD’s and can’t just be ignored.


                  • I am reminded:

                    There is a scene in C.S. Lewis’s _The Great Divorce that has been sticking in my craw in the last month or so. It’s the scene where they talk about Napoleon. If you haven’t read it (you should, it’s good) it’s a discussion of Hell. Hell, Lewis explains, is a place where one’s wishes are immediately granted. The problem is that people wish for things that make them feel better without actually helping them. The narrator talks to a couple of folks who say they looked up Napoleon. They spent a year spying on him and they said that all he did was pace back and forth saying “It was Soult’s fault. It was Ney’s fault. It was Josephine’s fault.” That’s all he did. For an eternity.


                  • I think even the Official OT Numbers Guy said Comey likely had an affect and could have swung the election.

                    Comey’s letter most certainly had an effect on the election. But if not for Hillary’s unforced errors re: the private server and subsequent efforts at “damage control” – including Bill’s tarmac talk with Loretta Lynch – Comey would never have had to write it.


                    • See, that’s the thing. Clinton didn’t not do those things. She didn’t not have a private email server, she didn’t not collude with the DNC and the media during the campaign. The reason Comey’s letter changed anyone’s mind about anything was not Russian hacking or Republican misogyny.


              • Ahem. A majority voted against Clinton. The Not Clinton vote beat Clinton by a wider margin than Clinton beat Trump.

                That’s just because of third parties of course. Obama didn’t have Johnson and Stein to contend with.


            • I think I get it… it’s mostly an argument about what to do next. If we could run the election 100 times, Trump might in fact only win 2 or 3 of those times. That’s shocking bad luck. The next election will require slight adjustments and better execution on solid fundamentals… and should be quite winnable.

              If your hypothetical election simulator generates victories 95% of the time, why panic, why change? Stay the course.

              As a non-Democrat, I can’t really argue with that logic.


              • I get that part: the platform is fiiiine.

                The part I don’t get is that the national PV total isn’t (or shouldn’t be…) part of the analysis you just presented re: what to do going forward. Vote totals in relevant swing states, on the other hand, is.


                • I hear you… but that’s the touchy part of the “platform is fiiiiine” part. Do you redo the simulation with 2 visits to Wisconsin or do you start to adjust the message. If I’m reading the subtext right (and quite likely I’m not) there is a lot invested in the former being the answer.

                  In the real world it will be both, of course… but I’m sensing disproportionate angst about touching the messaging. Which, incidentally, links back to the DCCC stuff and the illuminating comments I received about trust and fear of the Democratic party center and peripherals.


                • The problem with using the PV is it mischarachterizes the fundamentals. There is a sleight of hand in looking at Clinton’s total vote margin over Trump because it assumes a two person race and neither major party candidate got half of the vote. The increase in third-party votes was clearly a result of problems with the candidates personally, and not the harbinger of increasing non-aligned ideological strength.

                  I calculate the fundamentals of the election as follows:

                  RPresFundamentals = #TrumpVotes, plus #Johnson(2016)Votes, minus #Johnson(2012)Votes, plus#McMullin Votes

                  DPresFundamentals = #ClintonVotes, plus #Stein(2016)Votes, minus #Stein(2012)Votes

                  (If’s not clear what I’m doing there with Johnson and Stein, I’m considering the 2012 vote totals as Greens and Libertarians that shouldn’t be expected to vote for either major party going forward)


                  RPresFundamentals = 66,929,863
                  DPresFunadmantals = 66,791,105

                  Close enough to be considered a tie, but I think this shows two things. Clinton’s popular vote margins are mostly built on third-party defections on the right and these defections might be from voters least available to Democrats. In any event, even if the Democrats could gain these votes, they are most located in noncompetitive states like Utah. Republican votes are more efficiently spread in the electoral college system, as is its internal split.


            • Again, additionally we can’t know what would have happened if the media would not have been SO emphatic that she had it buttoned up, and also if the vote was popular and not EC. Everything would have changed. People who didn’t bother to vote would have come out of the woodwork (and many of them very well may have been Hillary voters) and others who live in blue states would have voted or voted differently.

              There is absolutely no way to know and I think the assumption that Hillary would have still won the popular vote is not proven.


        • I agree and disagree. But it is a strong point. We are at a strong demographic sea change in the United States. The nation is becoming less white, less male, and less rural. But maybe not at a fast enough clip to give the Democrats an edge in elections now.

          But I don’t know how to read George’s comments in any way other than stating blue states don’t count and even more insidiously, people of color are less American than white Americans.

          I am not anti-Bernie but the truth is that Bernie had a hard time connecting with the real base of the Democratic Party which is women in their 30s-50s and people of color of all ages. The Bernie base of the Democratic Party is still just a large minority within the party and probably not a plurality, certainly not a majority.

          Even if HRC did not win, Bernie would have a hard time against a more mainstream Democrat like Booker or Brown or Gildebrand.


              • Yes, george, I read exactly what you said. That’s fine, in so far as someone has a thermometer somewhere that measured that.

                It’s not “the heat island effect is 12C on a climatological basis.”

                When questioned on this,you could have simply said “radiative heating effects from blacktop” — in which case I’d have said, “okay, sure.”

                PS. Heat Island doesn’t always exist. Take Arizona for one.


          • Bernie had a majority of the people who wanted to vote in the primary. Whether you like it or not.

            Base doesn’t mean “not terribly interested sheeple” unless you really want to just Fucking Say It — The Democrats are A Machine, and You’ll Like Who We Tell You To.


          • But I don’t know how to read George’s comments in any way other than stating blue states don’t count and even more insidiously, people of color are less American than white Americans.

            I don’t think George is suggesting anything quite so extreme, myself. I think his point about the PV vote argument is that it constitutes a bit of goal-post shifting on the part of Hillary supporters. The metric by which victory is determined is number of EC votes, so both campaigns’ strategies were to win EC votes in specific battleground states at the expense of racking up higher PV numbers in solidly red/blue states. And personally I agree with that view.

            On the other hand, tho, and bringing this back to Trumwill’s OP, one of the arguments presented in Shattered is that the Clinton campaign made a tactical decision during the primary to align her campaign more closely with the interests of black and hispanics (on the premise that doing so would knock Bernie outa the race early in the run) which backfired by alienating white voters. And that dynamic persisted throughout the general. The conclusion is that she made a very poor tactical decision which revealed either that she didn’t understand the political dynamics in play or was incapable of overcoming that dynamic given her political commitments and history. In any event, Hillary herself made a strategic choice to value black/minority votes more than white votes, a decision which bit her during both the primary (Michigan) and in the general (Michigan again!).


            • I do think that HRC should have campaigned more in the states Will mentioned above and made a mistake by not doing so.

              I do think there is a tension because blacks and Hispanics are the base of the Democratic Party and I do think a lot of people voted for Trump because he said the quiet parts loud and lots of people do want the GOP to be the party of white identity (which binds more than money for millionaires and billionaires).


              • Happy to hear you sticking up for the pro-torture wing of the Democratic Party.

                Judging by your comments on other threads, you consider them despicable for corporal punishment (apologies if I’m exaggerating a touch), but we need to cater to them anyway.


            • I think that both the Republican and Democratic Party have issues regarding their base not exactly matching up to the general electorate. The Republican base is older, white, more Christian, and and less urban than the general electorate. They increasingly need to rely on constitutional hardball tactics to win elections. The Democratic base is women between their 30s and 50s and people of color like Saul said but this group is not really reflective of the general electorate either.


            • On the other hand, tho, and bringing this back to Trumwill’s OP, one of the arguments presented in Shattered is that the Clinton campaign made a tactical decision during the primary to align her campaign more closely with the interests of black and hispanics (on the premise that doing so would knock Bernie outa the race early in the run) which backfired by alienating white voters.

              This is a great comment. The only thing with which I would quibble is that the Clinton campaign made less a decision of align with the interests of blacks and Hispanics and more a decision to appear to align with those interests. That is, they chose to align with the interests of a certain kind of left-of-center, intersectional, cosmopolitan brand of progressiveness. And that brand of progressiveness is incredibly alienating to people who aren’t a part of it and not just white people.

              And that leads to the uncovering a paradox at work here. The Republican agenda is increasingly exclusive, but their messaging has become increasingly populist. On the other hand, the Democratic agenda is more inclusive, but it’s messaging is increasingly exclusive. The Clinton campaign was emblematic of this, from its bizarre choice of slogan to the tendency of its surrogates to simply assume the moral high ground and condemn anybody who criticized HRC as some kind of reactionary misogynist.


              • There seems to be some tension here between your point about HRC’s campaign only appearing to align with minority voters and the second half in which you suggest a disconnect between Democratic messaging and policy. What policy difference would there have been between a Sanders and Clinton administration, after all? Other things being equal, I would think that Sanders would be more dovish while making bigger domestic policy promises than Clinton’s domestic policy promises, neither of which would get anywhere with a GOP House.


                • My comment wasn’t about the difference between Clinton and Sanders. My comment was about how Democrats presume what black and Hispanic interests are versus what they really are. And the first step in resolving that tension is to realize that there simply is no such thing as “black and Hispanic interests.”

                  My go to example of this sort of thing is always school choice. The interest groups that make up the Democratic base, the teachers’ unions, the NEA, the left-of-center education policy wonks, even the NAACP are all anti-school choice, many going so far as to claim that supporting school choice is always nothing more than a disingenuous exercise in giving tax breaks to rich people, handing over education to corporate profit-mongers, or providing backdoor public funding to churches and other religious groups. And yet, the majority of black voters and black parents support school choice.
                  Once you get past the level of slogan, there is an inherent contradiction in the official Dem position on this issue.

                  When you find yourself in that sort of position, you generally have two choices about how to resolve that sort of contradiction. One is to construct a “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” story that says the folks who disagree have been hoodwinked into going against their own interests (which just happen to be your own interests, but that couldn’t possibly be important). The other is to see that there are nuances in play that are not fully captured by your own position and undertake an honest assessment of that position. The Dems have continued to do the latter. And I believe that it has been to their detriment.


                  • POC’s are represented throughout the D’s and have a lot of voice. They actually have a say in what the D policies are. They are actors not just the acted upon. Of course the D’s have problems with listening to the various voices in their coalition and listen to far more of the corporate ones then i would wish. And lord knows D pols are far far far from perfect. But there are POC pols in the D’s so the general D establishment does sort of know what a lot of POC’s want.


                  • On other blogs the Democratic Party is seen as being too supportive of school choice. My take is that the Democratic Party is between a rock and a hard place with school choice. Many parts of the Democratic base support school choice and other parts are deeply suspicious of school choice and believe it doesn’t work. Most Democratic politicians have to walk a line between the two groups.


              • I would dispute that the Democrats agenda is more inclusive. They have become increasingly intolerant, and lately said all Democrats have to support abortion. Well, they can kiss lots of very Catholic Hispanics goodbye. They’re inclusive of people who agree with them on all issues.

                The contradictions in progressive thought, it’s fixation on not just first world problems, but elitist first world problems, has left them blind to a great many problems. On the hierarchy of needs, they’re working on free tuition (paid for by taxing working people who don’t go to college), trans-fat bans, an end to plastic shopping bags, a letting women with penises use the girl’s showers. Trump was out talking to working class Americans about why their factories closed, why their main street businesses got boarded up, how their kids are getting hooked on heroin and Oxycontin, and how they are constantly having their religious rights walked on while Democrats insult them and insult them and insult them.

                The Democrats respond with more out-of-touch virtue signalling, pretending they care when they don’t, and that has rotted their party and their “movement”. They can’t keep calling ordinary people bigoted racist misogynists and then turn around and expect those people to vote for them. And this doesn’t seem to bother them in the slightest, because they’d rather not be supported by racists.

                They are perhaps in a behavior death-spiral, like a sorority girl who spends so much of her time sanctimoniously berating everyone else that she fails to notice she’s running out of friends. But the media and Hollywood are so cocooned in their safe little bubbles, seemingly surrounded by like-minded people, that they don’t see that bubble contracting, and it will keep contracting until it ends somewhere in the Bronx or Van Nuys.


                  • Lots. Many Republican governors are pro-choice, as are quite a few Republican Senators, such as Senators Collins, Capito, and Murkowski, who are members of various “Republicans for Choice” groups. Most of the Republicans I know are pro-choice.

                    I’m actually anti-choice but pro-abortion. I think we already have too many kids, little punks who are always looking to take our jobs. Frankly, we can import all the kids we need, and import them after they’re finished with school in their home countries, so American parents start getting a pay-in instead of getting hit with the staggering costs of child care. It’s basically the Angelina Jolie method of reproduction.

                    But nobody listens to me.


                    • Oh it’s very understandable not to listen to you. If most of the R’s you know are pro-choice then you live in an odd bubble.

                      And there have been personally anti abortion but pro choice D’s. Like lots of them. So what do the parties actually do on choice? One pushes for more choice and one for less.


                      • I just don’t currently hang out with all that many highly religious Republicans.

                        I think one good way to push for more choice is to give the father the right to terminate the pregnancy, along with perhaps siblings, parents, and close friends. That would multiply the number of choices being made.


                • On the hierarchy of needs, they’re working on free tuition (paid for by taxing working people who don’t go to college), trans-fat bans, an end to plastic shopping bags, a letting women with penises use the girl’s showers. Trump was out talking to working class Americans about why their factories closed, why their main street businesses got boarded up, how their kids are getting hooked on heroin and Oxycontin, and how they are constantly having their religious rights walked on while Democrats insult them and insult them and insult them.

                  On the hierarchy of needs, Trump was working on more tax cuts for millionaires (paid for by shredding healthcare subsidies and blowing up the deficit), having to press 1 for English, people not saying “Merry Christmas”, letting pharmacists withhold prescriptions from people they don’t like, and how you can’t make gay jokes anymore without people thinking you’re an asshole. Hillary was out talking to working class Americans about why their factories closed, how they can get retrained and get their kids taken care of long enough to look for a job, how a whole generation of college students is drowning in lifelong college debt, and the abysmal state of relationships between minorities and police. Isn’t this fun?


                  • Hillary didn’t speak to a single working class American, unless of course you count Omar Mateen’s dad, but I’m not sure if he’s working class or just a Taliban supporting welfare leech. The reason their factories closed was that Hillary sold them to the Russians in return for ten million or so in donations to the Clinton Global Initiative. The wouldn’t need retraining if she hadn’t thrown them in the unemployment line to get a bunch of bribe money to pay for her private jet or her four mansions, which is an amazing amount of wealth considering that neither she nor her husband has ever had a real job. They’re just grifters.


                    • You are either completely disingenuous, live in a fantasy land, but this is pure hackery.

                      Anyone can say anything but their actions speak louder.

                      Did Trump and Bannon say some anti free trade and factory closing down stuff? Sure. But their actions and plans are basic bog standard Republicanism with super tax cuts for the rich that never worked at said goals.


          • Elections now, or possibly elections in the future. As whites become a minority they may begin voting as a bloc. Or Hispanics could become “white” as time progresses. The urbanization could be made moot if Democrats alienate suburbanites and people who live in smaller metropolii.


            • Democrats do well in smaller cities too. Even small cities in red states tend to swing blue like Boise or Missoula.

              I suspect it will be a while before Hispanics become white. Right-wingers seem okay with letting Asians be “white” but that doesn’t seem to be working right now especially with younger Asian-Americans.

              Suburbs is such a vague term but it seems to me that there are blue suburbs and there are red suburbs. Blue suburbs tend to be closer to the cities and more educated/professional. Republicans alienate plenty of suburban women with their talk too especially regarding abortion, birth control, and women’s health. How many GOPers have blown their own feet off by making a comment on women’s issues like this is 1942?


              • You’re just sure that every one of those eggs is going to hatch, aren’t you?

                That Democrats are doing okay with certain groups now is no assurance that this will continue to be the case. I remember when Democrats did fine with WWC outside the South!

                Elections are won and lost in the suburbs. That some are red (those in red states) and some are blue (those in blue states) is an indication that the suburban vote is not locked up.

                Florida has seem quite the demographic sea change and it’s more Republican than it was 16 years ago.

                The future can unfold in more than one way.


                • Precisely…

                  My hunch is that Trump will set-back realignment from a Republican perspective; but that realignment is up for grabs. Whether the Democratic party pivots out of the Left/Right Identity strategy and into an Up/Down economic strategy is to be determined.

                  I think the party that can execute that pivot first and effectively will make us wonder what politics used to be. Who will do it first? No idea. On this I think Douthat and Millman are both ahead of the curve.


          • We are at a strong demographic sea change in the United States. The nation is becoming less white, less male, and less rural. But maybe not at a fast enough clip to give the Democrats an edge in elections now.

            While this is true, a couple of other shorter-term trends seem likely to me to be more important for the next 20 years. Clinton didn’t suddenly lose in WI, MI, and PA out of nowhere. Over the last dozen or so years those state have become less reliably blue at lower levels. If you consistently lose ground in the state legislature, governor’s seats, and Congressional delegation, you’re likely to eventually lose the EC votes as well.

            The (D)s did well in two parts of the country this last time: the NE urban corridor and the West. I expect any DNC postmortems to ignore the West, or at best ignore it except California as a source of dollars, rather than asking if the (D)s growing clout in the West* indicates things the party should be trying nationally. Small but worth noticing, the current numbers for reapportionment after the 2020 census suggest to me that the (D)s will gain three House seats in the West and at best hold their own in the NE urban corridor.

            * When I talk about gains in the West, I include things done by ballot initiative measures that the (D)s should favor: independent redistricting, marijuana liberalization, vote-by-mail, minimum wage.


            • I know you are on the West cri de Coeur but I don’t see the Democrats as ignoring the West. Thought the Democrats always seem to be the party of can’t do right in the eyes of everyone. The thing about the states we lost in 2016 is they are going in the opposite direction and becoming whiter, older, and more Evangelical than the nation overall.

              We did better in some red states than normally but not enough to turn those states purple or blue yet.

              I don’t think Marijuana legalization plays as well in Iowa as it does in Montana.


              • I don’t think Marijuana legalization plays as well in Iowa as it does in Montana.

                Montana voters have approved medical marijuana — not recreational — twice through ballot initiatives. The second time was after the legislature pretty much gutted the first initiative. MM polls at about 80% favorable among Iowans — if they had ballot initiatives, it would be a shoo-in. It’s apparently not important enough to get the voters to kick enough Iowa House Republicans out of office, though; an MM bill passed the Iowa Senate this year by 45-5, but is expected to die in the House.


                • If you use “evangelical” as a synonym for “anti-women’s right to choose her own sexual destiny” and “magical sky fairy”, then evangelical, quaker, mennonite, and catholic (why did you use capitals on those?) are all pretty much the same thing.


                    • Quakers famously escort women into Family Planning clinics but they still believe that they have a peace obligation or whatever the crap they believe toward the fetus. It’s just not as great as the one they have to the woman (which is great enough that they are obliged to protect her on her way into the clinic).

                      That peace obligation? Pro-life right there.


            • Anecdote, reading, and observation.

              I generally agree that in a sane and/or ideal country issues of minority status would not effect where one is on the political status but we don’t live in a sane and/or ideal political country. We live in a country where the GOP has gone so far to the right on social issues and/or courting the Religious Right regarding religion, that it is hard for them to court minority members who are otherwise fiscally conservative.

              Jesse said this above, a secular and fiscally conservative party could do very well in a lot of blue cities. I could see a European Center Right party doing well among college graduates and professionals in cities. But as Jesse also noted, the European center-right parties have generally given up on trying to reverse the social changes of the 1960s and are generally cool with secular lives.

              The late Julian Bond famously noted that the GOP would be competitive with African-Americans if they just moderated their stance on affirmative action somewhat because there is a natural conservatism in the African-American community.

              But none of this has happened. Instead you have a GOP that courts the Religious Right endlessly for policies regarding science (climate change and evolution denialism), sex education (abstinence-only), and minority rights in general are approached with disdain and stepping on landmines and a knee-jerk reaction to defend offensive and mocking statements as anti-PC.

              The GOP has largely decided that they will be the party of white identity and as long as this is a strong faction, it does and will repel many women and minorities include minorities who are well-to-do financially.

              I know people who are minorities who are not super-liberal when it comes to economics and the welfare state. They might even be skeptical of the Welfare State but they don’t vote GOP because they see the GOP as constantly embracing people who want to discriminate against them or worse.

              There is also the issue that a lot of GOP policies might be racially neutral on their face but have a disparate impact of minorities re criminal justice and the war on some people who use some drugs or cutting the welfare state.

              There is also the fact that people who have faced discrimination in the past tend to have long memories that makes them sympathetic to other oppressed groups. Jewish-Americans are one of the wealthiest group of Americans but they are also Democratic loyalists because of our history of discrimination has created a firm commitment to civil rights for minorities and the importance of a welfare state is deeply rooted in Judaism. The only other group that is more loyal to the Democratic Party is African-Americans.

              California is an app example here. The GOP used to be dominant in California and they controlled the Governorship of California for most of my life on earth. Now they are a rump party because they moved to the right and did not understand or care to adapt to the demographic changes occurring in this state. Pete Wilson’s campaign against undocumented immigrants was successful at the time but more or less soured Hispanics on the GOP and now the state is basically a Democratic super-majority.


              • +1

                The reason why Hispanic’s and Asian’s vote 70-30 and African-American’s vote 90-10 isn’t because the Democrat’s are great, but because of the actions of the GOP to viciously slap away any chance at minority votes consistently.


    • “she was actually looking for pragmatic solutions for real-world problems”. That was her message. The message was received. By me. By Will. By millions others. There is not sharpening that message. That message is, to me, a really good message.

      I don’t think she does well in media. She has baggage and if this book is to be believed, she’s not a great administrator. There have been presidents with bigger flaws.

      If you are unhappy that she lost, I think the people most responsible for that are the people that voted for the other guy.


  9. Mistakes and misconceptions made go uncorrected. In some cases because the people on the campaign themselves miss it, but in others because they follow incentives where loyalty is conflated with support for a given course of action.

    To the extent that those who polled “undecided” were not, in fact, undecided seems to indicate that this particular problem has bled out into the wider culture.


  10. Good Dave Weigel piece on a case where Clinton loyalists seem to have a point in blaming others.

    Looking forward, while I think that Generic Democrat would probably have beaten Trump 2016 comfortably, I’m not sure that Incumbent Trump will be particularly easy to unseat.


      • How would you go about doing a meaningful public autopsy? You’d need the experts who got it wrong to interview the others who got it wrong, admit they got it wrong, write it down, then implement it. This kind of thing may be better argued out around a million dinner tables and chat rooms.


        • The Republicans managed a surprising autopsy in 2012.

          Of course, Trump sort of knocked the autopsy out and made it wake up in a cheap hotel room in a bathtub full of ice and missing a kidney… but they did it. It pointed fingers. It pointed out that “So and so made a mistake!” rather than “mistakes were made…”

          It’s theoretically possible to do and theoretically possible to do well.

          I don’t know how expensive it would be but, surely, it wouldn’t be *THAT* expensive.


      • The full quote as originally reported was

        I think President Obama, like many others in both parties, talks about a set of big national statistics that look shiny and great but increasingly have giant blind spots,” she says. “That GDP, unemployment, no longer reflect the lived experiences of most Americans. And the lived experiences of most Americans is that they are being left behind in this economy.

        Which is a different thing than saying Barrack Obama doesn’t understand the lived experience of most Americans.

        Now, you can still say that, a few weeks after the March For Science, are we supposed to ignore hard data and time series statistics, and instead go with anecdotes and our guts?

        But she’s not quite painting Obama as out of touch, like Twitter is thinking she did.

        (This kind of media malpractice is how we got Trump)


        • Hey, I’m not even intending to argue about the coverage of what Warren said as much as pointing out that she’s sort of wandering off of the reservation. So to speak.

          If the DNC does not do a dispassionate analysis of what went wrong, which Cassandras ought to have been listened to, which Cassandras were right to have been ignored, and where the process itself broke down and failed, it will be left in the hands of those outside of the process.

          And *THAT* is the thing that is most likely to result in another 2016 in 2020.

          “But we won the popular vote!”, people can scream.


          • In one of my previous lines of work, a main part of the job was sitting around a table and saying ‘OK what went wrong’.

            So I’m a fan of that process and that mindset.

            But there’s also the thing about fighting the last war. The players, the characters, the terrain are all going be different in 3 years (just as they were different 5 and 9 years ago) so there is indeed limited value in dissecting the corpse, if you’re trying the prevent the next casualty. Everything is going to be different.

            Which is a different thing than saying it’s satisifying to dissect that corpse – it’s just probably not an efficient use of the time of the professionals. And we way overestimate the power of amateurs in the narrative, despite what Trump seems to have wrought.


            • if you’re trying the prevent the next casualty. Everything is going to be different.

              While it’s certainly true that all of the players will be different (except for the consultants, for some reason), if the *PROCESS* is not analyzed, the same process mistakes will be made again.

              Something as simple as a rumpled guy in front of a whiteboard saying “Lessons Learned” as he writes the same is an important part of avoiding the biggest eff-ups next time.

              Hell, I’m not even saying that everything has to be perfect. I’m just saying that if we find ourselves tempted to give a “Basket of Deplorables” speech in 2019, we should have someone on the team whose job it is to clear zher throat and say “we should *NOT*, in fact, do that.”

              Or whatever example you feel I should have given there that would have been more incisive.


            • The most likely problem is that the Democrats won’t due a proper autopsy because the people doing the autopsy should be the corpses on the table.

              Hillary’s inner circle, along with Pelosi, Schumer, and the rest, will make sure they’re still in charge, even though they were the root and heart of the failure.

              The same people who rigged the primaries for Hillary will still be in place, and will still do the same things, and still make the same mistakes. Their messaging will still be tone-deaf and alienating. They will still rely on personal attacks against Trump. They will still rely on identity politics. They will still fail to offer anything but condescension to middle America, including the Rust Belt.


      • Jay,
        Well, I know the guy what did the autopsy of the funding chains for Clinton’s “After the Election” protestors. I don’t think he’s exactly an amateur, of course.


    • For what it’s worth, I think a lot of Clinton complaints involving the media are legitimate. Especially the handling of the Comey matter. But… (and of course there’s a “but”)… my views can be summed up in this three-tweet thread:

      I plan to make no predictions about 2020 until we get closer in, except to say that I think the outcomes are more-or-less limited to Trump winning re-election, Trump losing re-election, or Trump not being on the ballot. One of those three seems very likely.


      • It’s a good thread.

        Mostly, I find it frustrating how hard it can be to get people to acknowledge two things that seem obvious to me (Clinton was a bad candidate, and not everything that determines the fate of a campaign is in the hands of the candidate).


        • [I agree] Not everything was Clinton’s fault:

          1) Not campaigning in Wisconsin made no difference to the outcome because winning Wisconsin would not have changed the outcome.

          2) In many states, Clinton got more votes than the Senate Democratic candidate, including Illinois, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

          3) The hollowing out of the Democratic Party at the local level mainly occurred in 2010, and that’s not on her.


          • 1) The thing about #1 is that it wasn’t about the specific fact she didn’t go to Wisconsin. It was about the fact that she ran a campaign that didn’t put her there. It’s an indicator.

            2) The senate candidates weren’t running against Donald Trump. People look at the bad breaks she might have gotten, but she got the mother-load of good breaks. Lost anyway. (Also, those races each featured incumbents.)

            3) Agreed, depending on what we’re talking about. There were (allegedly) resources on the grounds to be deployed, but no direction given (even things as simple as having fliers to hand out). One of the more quizzical aspects of the thing was how tight-fisted the Clinton campaign was. For a fundraising juggernaut, they couldn’t seem to afford to do much. It intimated early on that this was an HRC hangup – feeling like she spent too much in 2008 – but there wasn’t a smoke-em-while-you-got’em rush at the end like I was expecting.


          • Not everything was Clinton’s fault #2:

            1)The smugness of the media and celebs was huge and should not be underrated. Freddie DeBoer was begging John Oliver and Lena Dunham to STFU just before the election, and this mattered to people more than many realize.

            2)Cultural liberalism, bordering on licentiousness, has gone too far too fast for quite a few people. It’s at least in part why some minorities voted Trump and others simply stayed home and didn’t vote at all. Quite a lot of voters actually do care about things like family, hard work, and religion and are personally socially conservative even if they have always voted Democrat. This includes quite a few people in cities, it is not a rural/urban divide. People see self-professed liberals glorifying things they find kind of icky and are responding to that, because the Democrats have seemed to move SO far to the left there is no place for those who are more old fashioned.


            • 1.) Freddie DeBoer should stick to education policy instead of his seemingly endless cause to decide who is and isn’t a real leftist. There are smug liberals, there are smug conservatives – I point to noted socialist Conor Friesendoef’s recent article in The Atlantic –

              2.) Sure, and the Pill was too far for a lot of people in 1962. Then, those people died off. Economic justice without social justice isn’t justice. I’d rather the party be too quick rather than too slow when it comes to the individual rights of people to act as they wish in their own homes and bedrooms.


              • Jesse,
                2) Yeah. But you ain’t talking about the rights of people in their homes and bedrooms when you’re talking about transsexuals. You’re talking about their rights in public spaces. That’s a hell of a lot more “in yo face”


          • Serious question:

            Why does campaigning in a given state matter? This is 2017… why do you need to see a candidate in person? How many people even goto these events? Or is this even more about feelz and signaling? Does going to Wisconsin actually convince Wisconsinians that Clinton is a superior candidate? Or does it make them feel like she cares about them and their interests?


            • Hillary’s people no doubt wondered the same thing.

              Trump knew it was about listening. He also filled stadiums and had people lined up outside.

              Hillary did a morning event in a Florida bar and only about three people showed up.


              • Which doesn’t really answer my question.

                I’m not arguing whether it does or doesn’t matter. I’m answering *why* it matters. The closest you came to answering that is because Trump (pretended to) listen. Okay, I get that.

                But let’s not pretend like that isn’t all about feelz and signaling. It’s okay. You can say that. You won’t turn to stone.


                • For one thing, Trump constantly brought local people up on stage and lets them tell their stories. He also delivered a unique speech every time. He’d just start talking and roll with it. Few candidates can do that, and Hillary certainly can’t. Heck, the Podesta dump showed that large teams of people would debate the inclusion of almost anything she said.

                  The result was that lots of people felt Trump had their back. That he cared deeply about the devastation in their communities. Then Hillary referred to half the country as irredeemable, a basket of deplorables, and that was pretty much game over.

                  But take heart, because some genius just posted the best thing on the Internet, a mash up of Star Wars and Sgt. Peppers. Someone should probably write a review of it.


                • “All Politics Is Local” is a quote from Tip O’Neill.

                  That said, let’s go back to the triad we used prior to the election.

                  There are three types of people.
                  1. People who, if they vote, will vote for you no matter what
                  2. People who, if they vote, will vote for your opponent no matter what
                  3. People who, if they vote, could go either way

                  Showing up and campaigning in person helps to energize the #1s and make sure that more of them show up to vote than would otherwise. Sure, some of them will show up and vote for you no matter what, but you want to maximize this number.

                  If the other guy doesn’t show up and your guy does, you have the ability to argue “your guy doesn’t care about you but my guy cares about me.” That can carry a sting and get the other guy to be too busy on election day to show up to vote for his guy. Too many things to do. “I live in a state predestined to go a certain way anyway.”

                  As for the third group, someone who could go either way could be impressed by the candidate who showed up and unimpressed with the candidate who failed to show up.

                  All in all, showing up to campaign is a great way to nudge all three groups in the direction you want them to go in.

                  But let’s not pretend like that isn’t all about feelz and signaling. It’s okay. You can say that. You won’t turn to stone.

                  I think you fail to embrace how important feelz and signaling are.

                  It’s like saying “X is a social construct”. That doesn’t mean that X is now something that is gone. That doesn’t mean that X is ephemeral. It can be very, very real indeed.


                  • Oh no… I’m not in any way denying the importance of feelz and signaling. Instead, I’m trying to draw attention to the fact that Trump and the GOP won by leveraging things they lambasted Dems and liberals over for a long time. You don’t get to call other people snowflake and then turn around and vote for Trump because he made you feel warm and fuzzy. At least not without being a hypocrite.

                    People can and should vote based on whatever criteria they want to. I won’t argue for a second there is a “correct” way to vote. But I think we should be honest with ourselves about why we are voting for particular candidates and what a particular candidate’s success means.

                    Trump was good about making people feel heard. Very good. And Hillary was terrible.

                    Which tells us nothing about the desirability or rightness of their policy preferences.

                    But it does tell us how important feeling heard is to the voters.


                    • I think you misoverestimate how horrible “hypocrisy” is, as sins go.

                      Sure, sometimes it’s a knockout punch. Those Republican religious leaders who were found in bed with a live boy or a dead girl? Absolutely hilarious!

                      But, sometimes, it’s a distraction. The “Al Gore is Fat” kind of distraction. It doesn’t matter if Al Gore has a 14,000 square foot house and a power bill that costs more than mortgages in a lot of parts of the country.

                      Global Climate Change can remain an important issue even if Al Gore’s house is 4 times the national average. It’s about the issue, it’s not about the spokesman.

                      It’s important to not treat something like the second example as if it were something like the first example.


                      • I have no problem with how these people behaved. I just hope that the next time someone who isn’t them talks about hardship, they don’t respond with comments about “snowflakes” or “feelz”.


            • It at least shows the people that are working on your campaign that you care, which probably helps keep them focused and motivated, which in turn should reflect better results come game day.


            • Some ideas of effects besides mere signalling:
              * The people who get to see the candidate live likely get much more pumped than they would from a video (assuming the candidate is reasonably good at getting people excited), just like a live concert is a much different experience than a recording.
              * Some of those people are or will be campaign workers who’ll then be that much more enthusiastic and motivated to do the grunt work door-to-door stuff.
              * When a candidate visits a state, s/he tailors the message to that state. So the folks there are hearing something likely more relevant to their wants & needs than a national speech would be (not to mention a speech that was delivered a different state and tailored to that one).


            • You’ve been to a live game, right? Or a concert, comedy show? That feeling you are in the midst of it, that you personally are bringing the magic, that cannot be replicated on Vid. And when the band calls out your town name “Toledo!” or “Yonkers!” or… you get it.

              But, when you are in Toledo, and they call out Yonkers…


              • @aaron-david @kolohe

                I don’t disagree with any of that. I’m not saying that campaigning in a given area can’t have an impact.

                My argument is that campaigning as it is being described here is about much more “other stuff” than it is policy, governance, and all that jazz.

                Trump was, undoubtedly, better at the “other stuff”. No argument there.

                The problem is that we are now being told that Trump and the GOP have the right policies and the right form of governance and leadership for the American people because the American people chose their policies and leadership and governance style.

                Only… they didn’t. They chose Trump’s “other stuff”.

                Do the American people want Trumpcare? Or do they want more Trump Rallys? Right now, the data suggests the latter. But we may end up with the former.


                • we are now being told that Trump and the GOP have the right policies and the right form of governance and leadership for the American people because the American people chose their policies and leadership and governance style.

                  We are? By whom?

                  Sounds like your original question was rhetorical and we misintepreted it as genuine — you were just complaining that Trump won because of all the stupid people who fell for his campaign stuff.


                  • Ummm… by Trump? And many GOP supporters?

                    My question was genuine indeed. I thought maybe there was something happening at rallies beyond what I understood. Maybe there was more policy talk than the soundbites showed.

                    That does not seem to be the case.

                    Which means that people — on either side — who vote based on whether or not a politician visited their area are likely voting on factors other than policy. Which is totally their right and in no way a mark of intelligence.

                    It just means that the criteria voters are deciding on and the things we’re tasking our elected leaders with are misaligned.


                    • Ummm… by Trump? And many GOP supporters?

                      Well sure, that’s what the winning party does. You said “now being told” as if there were someone here or some putative authority saying this, thus my question.


                      • Got it. But given that that is a very real feeling in the country today and it is being leveraged to enact policy, we can’t exactly ignore it because it hasn’t taken hold here.


                • The problem is that we are now being told that Trump and the GOP have the right policies and the right form of governance and leadership for the American people because the American people chose their policies and leadership and governance style.

                  Only… they didn’t. They chose Trump’s “other stuff”.

                  Democracy is horrible, it’s only saving grace is it’s better than all alternatives.


                  • it’s better than all alternatives.

                    A lot of people think that, but only because we haven’t tried slaughtering everyone else, and me living alone on a mountaintop with a bunch of cats.

                    Works for me.


          • PD Shaw,
            Of course 2010 is on HER. Obama installed her picks for the DNC, and they were ALL Clinton Shills. Clinton installed people who didn’t fucking CARE about redistricting, so long as Clinton WON.


    • I do think one of the legacies of the 2016 election is that liberals and Democrats are going to distrust big media organizations as much as the right-wing does.

      A lot of liberals see the horse race style of journalism as very lazy and they think it is rich that people making six and seven figure salaries are calling HRC and the Democrats out of touch while going around on yachts with Donald Trump and posting similing pictures on facebook.

      Add to this George’s steadfast commitment to deny blue-America is their Americanness (which is common on the right and always has been) and you have even more distrust building.


        • The only quasi-serious ballot initiative was started by a Russian funded idiot whose fled the country. I bet if you polled every single state, you’d get California-ish numbers about seceding.


        • Sometime during the Obama administration, following an acrimonious debate over something, the petition part of whitehouse.gov reached a point where there was a petition demanding an Amendment to allow state X to leave for all 50 values of X. Out of curiosity I downloaded the signature counts at some point in order to make a signatures-per-capita cartogram of the states. The states that had the highest values were overwhelmingly from the Deep South and the northern part of the Great Plains (plus Delaware, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, for some reason). The top five highest-population states as of 2010 — California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Texas — had low values compared to their neighbors.

          All of which, both then and now, IMHO as the resident lunatic actually planning a partition, are unserious whining. None of them appear to have given any thought to critical questions about making a partition work. The same critique applies to all of the proposals by areas that want to partition individual states (eg, Colorado’s 51st State movement or the State of Jefferson group in California/Oregon). None of those that I have seen have done the first thing I think would make them semi-serious: draw up an outline for the first year’s budget for the new state.


          • Any state would be insanely stupid to secede without retaining a sizable stockpile of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. The Ukraine made that mistake and look what it got them.


  11. “A lot of liberals see the horse race style of journalism as very lazy “. Yes, and …

    What else is there? Trump had no coherent policy on any major topic from one day to the next, and b*llshitted constantly. How many times can you tell that story, when the story isn’t changing?

    HRC had a policy binder that would fill a filing cabinet but no one cared. Voters don’t vote on policy; they vote on how candidates make them feel. And she made even me cringe. But how many times can you run the story: Clinton lectures voters?

    The entire point of journalism is to point to what’s new, that day. For the American presidential campaign, the only thing that’s new on any given day is a: polling, b: travel plans, c: gaffes, and d: what some guy in a diner said.

    btw — I live in California. HRC campaigned here virtually not at all. She did fund-raise quite a bit, though.


    • California and New York are too blue for campaigning but perfect for fundraising which is another problem of the electoral college.

      The horserace problem existed long before this election and I think a lot of liberals dislike it because it also means that policy does not get covered and journalists like it because who is winning is easy. Actually discussing substantive differences between the parties is hard.


      • I have a play theory that if we had a NPV Hillary Clinton would have lost it because analytics and Dem conventional wisdom would have told her not to bother trying to get votes anywhere outside two coasts and Chicago.


        • Maybe against a conventional Republican but not against Trump.

          The GOP is in a tricky spot as Greg says above. They have the majority in Congress but and the White House but they also lose the popular vote again and again and this is a sore spot for them.

          It is also a problem for the Democrats and the nation overall because I don’t know how many elections we can take where one side receives the most votes but the other side gets the most seats.


    • How many times can you tell that story, when the story isn’t changing?

      You can tell it once or twice, but if you tell it every time he bullshits and reminds us that he has no coherent policy, you end up looking like you’re in the tank for Clinton. Trump’s strategy from day one seems to be to have so many scandals that people start believing they’re all manufactured because, hey, nobody could possibly have that many scandals.

      If you suggested that to me a year ago, I would have laughed.


    • “Somehow, her emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information,” Comey said, adding later, “His then-spouse Huma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him to print out for her so she could deliver them to the secretary of state.”

      Read that. Read it again. Then take a few seconds for it to sink in.


        • {{crickets}}

          Maybe , MAYBE!, this is enough to get Clintonistas to take a deep breath, reflect on the state of play and consider what’s actually at stake, and refrain from defending Hillary on the emails anymore.



        • “I want to see her defenders rationalize this one.”

          They won’t; they’ll just tell us how a focus on something that may or may not have been a crime is a distraction from the real issues, like exactly what punishment is appropriate–firing or straight to jail–for school administrators who say that boys who think they might actually be girls but still dress and act like boys aren’t allowed to go pee in the girls’ bathroom.


              • I kind of agree with here. Of the various things I would ding her for, this is pretty low on the list. She didn’t do it, it wasn’t a product of her private server (could just as easily have happened on a government one), and I suspect in the overall this sort of thing is generally not that unusual and was discovered more as a matter of scrutiny than recklessness.

                The only way this dings Clinton is that Abedin was apparently not very popular with most of the campaign, people thought she was unqualified (or too influential given her qualifications) etc and this could be indicative of why they were right and Hillary was wrong. That’s pretty weak sauce.


                • Yeah, if Abedin was sending them to Weiner for him to print out so she could show them to Clinton, I’d have to assume that they weren’t being sent to/from Clinton. I don’t understand why you’d send any document to your husband to print out so you could show it to your boss, though. Or where you’d be when that made logistic sense. Were there times that Clinton was closer to Weiner’s office than she was to her own? But even that wouldn’t explain why Abedin was having her husband print them out for her. No, this doesn’t make enough sense for me to even understand it as a criminal violation.


                  • I don’t understand why you’d send any document to your husband to print out so you could show it to your boss, though.

                    Your boss insists on having her emails printed out because she’s not good with technology and is paranoid about leaving an electronic paper trail or having electronic records.

                    You, the boss’ #1 assistant, are also not good with technology.

                    There are lots of people who don’t enjoy working with technology and printers. My wife has our daughter print stuff out all the time. The printer is wireless and has to be turned on and set up.

                    This is a social situation rather than a technology one. It’s easier to ask someone to do something than it is to learn how to do it yourself. So… how many years do we think it went on? Presumably it lasted until the divorce or whatever.

                    It’s very, very hard to picture HRC not knowing this was going on (if documents need to be printed by the assistant’s husband, then it’s an issue which will come up in conversation). She apparently didn’t care because it can’t be proven illegal in court.


                    • Dark,
                      Um. Yeah. Right. Full truth is illegal as fuck, and both Abedin and Weiner would go to jail for it (Clinton too if she had knowledge… which maybe she did, and maybe she didn’t. Irresponsible, sure).


                • Various things like having classified info on non secure network and then emailing those classified docs to another person’s non secure computer and accepting receipt of classified info that had been printed off on a non secure printer? Just minor stuff that would send people like us to jail for a long time? Just recently I heard about the case of a poor enlisted kid that forget about his phone and brought it inside the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility on base. They are trying to decide if they will let him reclassor just kick him out of the army since he lost his clearence. But hey it’s just a minor thing right?


                • I wouldn’t call any of these email-related things “sins” Kazzy. They’re all of a piece, tho, and ultimately entirely within Hillary’s control and responsibility.

                  The only reason Comey didn’t bring charges against Abedin was because (para) he found no evidence that Abedin was aware that what she was doing was against the law. Which, given that Abedin had security clearance herself, is patently absurd.


                  • Let me remind, for the millionth time, that the Horrible Very Bad No Good Awful Server of Sin, was a replacement for Clinton’s non-secure State email. (Something she shared with her predecessors, and until they’re raked over the coals I’m going to dismiss this as partisan BS for the obvious reason that it was very clearly okay until a Democrat did it).

                    As such, Abedin undoubtedly expected all such emails to be non-classified.

                    And indeed, a massive review of all 30,000 of Clinton’s emails found, what, 110 emails (or was it 110 chains?) that contained classified information at the time it was sent. The most dreadful, horrible, flagrant one being, of course, the mere act of talking about a NYT story on drones. (You can tell it’s the worst thing there, because it was what the GOP leaked to damage her).

                    (Fun story: I’ve actually been on the recieving information of emails that stated, very clearly, that emailing a link to a given newspaper article would be considered ‘passing on classified material’ due to the public contents of the article).

                    Quite a bit of it was things like…Clinton’s call schedule for the day. The rest were, per various testimonies, either similar to the NYT story (referencing newspaper articles that references classified subjects) or similarly low-level things.

                    So, to sum up her perfidy: Over her years at State, she sent or received (mostly the later) 30,000 emails. Of which 0.36% contained information classified to, roughly, the same level as “Hey, check out this NYT article on drone strikes in Pakistan”.

                    Which is, by the way, why Comey wouldn’t recommend charges. Because even the most hardened, partisan prosecutor would look at that and say “You want me to what now?”


                    • And yet…if I did that, I’d likely face a lot more legal hassle than she ended up with. I’d AT A MINIMUM be fined. You know, ‘case she was the secretary of state and I’m just a peon. Rules are for the peons.


                      • Even that is probably not true, depending on how the material was marked and how it got to you. Unmarked classified information leaks like this from time to time because of the sheer amount of information going back and forth (which is why stuff is supposed to be clearly marked and segregated). It gets investigated, root-caused, and then somebody gets something between a talking-to and suspension of clearance / termination.

                        I’m not seeing anything particularly egregious in this case. Just the usual stuff from a large organization moving lots of information around. The State Department is especially well known for leaking like a sieve, probably because of the types of people it employs and the fact that its job mixes very public work with very sensitive work.


                      • No you wouldn’t. *shrug*. Not that I can prove it to you, I only took training every year for a decade about classified information, and the penalties for mishandling.

                        Without intent, a huge breach would get you fired. It’s unlikely you’d even be fined if you didn’t have intent. (Intent can be defined several ways).

                        For instance, the email server: The intent, which no one has disputed, was to replace her non-secure State email with a non-secure private server. (“Non-secure” as in “not fit for classified material”).

                        There was leakage. 0.36% of her emails contained classified data. Given the day-to-day amounts of classified email she looked at, that pretty much proves there was no intent to use it for classified data.

                        So you’re looking at administrative side now — where you start with two questions “Who sent it” and “How bad was the breach?”. In general, the “sender” tends to get the vast majority of the fallout — they’re the ones who violated the firewall between systems. (As far as I can tell, Clinton was almost always the recipient of emails with classified material). That means administrative sanctions would fall mostly on others.

                        At most, Clinton would be on the hook even for lesser punishment only if it could be shown she should have realized the data was classified. (When you receive classified data on a non-secure system, you’re supposed to notify security. There’s generally a reasonableness kind of standard to it, and even then the sanctions are far less than the one who sent it.)

                        Second is “how bad is the breach”. Well, here we run into the fact that “it’s classified”. Luckily, we had a leaky committee during an election year. One would presume that, as they were clearly using the committee for political damage, the leaked the worst they could find.

                        Which was the NYT story.

                        So, to sum up: If you worked in the State department, suffered a full audit of 30,000 emails on your non-secure system, found only 110 chains (mostly with you as the recipient) with data that were deemed “classified” or better, and the worst breach was discussion over an NYT article that was “classified” because the NYT article itself was over a classified program…..

                        You wouldn’t be fined, reprimanded, or even made to retake training. Whomever sent you those emails might get an audit to see if it was minor leakage or they were ignoring the rules.

                        But clearly Clinton is the worst, so keep believing you’d have been fined or thrown in jail or beheaded or something. Whatever confirms your priors, right?

                        Feelz before realz!


                        • No. Your training never covered anything on this scale, because there’s never been anything on this scale conducted by anyone other than foreign agents or Bradley Manning. Quantity has a quality all its own, and there would be no presumption that 30,000 emails were routed to a private server in good faith.


                          • Dude, yes it did. We covered much larger data breaches.

                            You keep using “30,000”. That was the sum total of her emails as SoS, not the sum total of ones containing classified information.

                            That private server was not only [i]absolutely legal[/i], but was the sort of setup her immediate two predecessors used. Well actually more secure, because Powell used gmail.

                            And I don’t see you trying to claim Powell and Rice were massive traitors who should be in jail.


                          • I’m curious what you think of the recent revelation that Trump transition team was copying and removing highly sensitive documents from a SCIF. What course of action do you think would be appropriate for the GOP oversight folks to take?


                            • That article doesn’t seem to match your comment. I don’t know the specifics of the story, but if Trump is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, he should be impeached, and if he’s guilty of criminal breaches of security, he should be imprisoned. Why wouldn’t I support that?


                              • trizzlor: “Trump transition team was copying and removing highly sensitive documents from a SCIF”

                                AP: “After learning that highly sensitive documents from a secure room at the transition’s Washington headquarters were being copied and removed from the facility, Obama’s national security team decided to only allow the transition officials to view some information at the White House”

                                Where’s the mismatch? I’m not asking what you think should happen *if* Trump is guilty of high crimes. I’m saying that we now have a claim that the Trump transition team was acting on par or worse to the Clinton/Abedin behavior that left you in shock, and asking what you think the government should do about it.


                                • Bad reading skills on my part. I was pretty sleepy by the time I got to the story last night. But I still don’t see why you think it constitutes a “gotcha”. I’m not pro-Trump, and even if I were, I’d be much more pro-security. Any investigation should be done properly, and any chips should fall where they may.


                                  • There’s an implication to the emails narrative that Clinton did something so far beyond the pale that the voters simply could not trust her. Presumably if Trump was found to have been running a private server for classified documents it too would be the end of him. And yet we now have TWO instances where senior Trump members are grossly violating security protocol in a comparable way: at Mar-a-Lago where the president was clearly looking at classified information over dinner and the White House refuses to disclose it; and now during the transition where classified documents were being copied and removed. You would think that if the issue was proper document handling then the public would be pretty upset about this; some prominent Trumpers would criticize him like they did after Syria; there would be some kind of national conversation going on. And yet these instances have left zero mark on the news. To such extent that when you read about Abedin mishandling documents it *stopped you short*, but when you read about Trump doing it you didn’t even notice.

                                    My point is that maybe the public doesn’t actually care at all about document handling or email policy. Maybe Clinton has a deeply unlikeable public persona that is unlikeable in ways that voters react to; and Trump has an unlikeable persona that voters have a very easy time overlooking[1]. And if it weren’t the emails being dredged up at the last minute it would’ve been something else – Benghazi, or the Global Initiative, or Bill’s dicking around, or whatever. Or maybe she would’ve even won it by a percent or two! But that this was fundamentally going to be a close race because voters looked at the two candidates, decided who they liked with their gut, and then either excused or were outraged by their behavior to match that gut decision. I can tell you for damn sure that Justin Trudeau — who has all of Hillary’s policies without any of her experience — would have been able to shake off an email scandal in a weekend.

                                    [1] Not to mention the fact that these two personas line up almost perfectly with traditional sexist tropes: the venal misogynist is able to skate by on “boys being boys” excuses; the experienced, detail-oriented woman can never quite get over the impression that she’s a shrill harpy – somehow simultaneously boring and enraging.


                                    • The Hillary email scandal magnified her biggest weaknesses and vulnerabilities. First, that she is fundamentally unlikeable and probably more important, that she was also perceived to be selling out the self-determination of the American people. That perception existed because it was true, of course.


                        • For instance, the email server: The intent, which no one has disputed, was to replace her non-secure State email with a non-secure private server. (“Non-secure” as in “not fit for classified material”).

                          This intent is great, very benign, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard HRC claim this. Instead she had layer after layer of obfuscation, evasion, and proven false explanation… like whatever the truth was, it was so bad she couldn’t fess up.


                            • She didn’t want to carry two devices. State couldn’t integrate their security into her Blackberry and she really didn’t want to part with her phone.

                              If that’s the extent of the situation, then Obama was correct when he said “political malpractice”. There was a drip, drip, drip of shifting stories from her, many of which turned out to not be correct.


                              • Probably the fact that the incredibly intensive investigation of the email issue turned up evidence corroborating it and failed to turn up evidence of some other sinister motive, but obviously you’re not going to find this persuasive and will most likely insult me for seeing things in this way.


                              • Ya’ll, it’s a matter of public record that Hillary didn’t use the State.gov email address governed by State security because they couldn’t guarantee security on her Blackberry (I think it was a Blackbery) so, because she didn’t want to give up her phone, she went with a private server and her own security.


                                • >>because she didn’t want to give up her phone, she went with a private server and her own security.

                                  One little thing happened in between: she contacted Colin Powell about how awful communication is at State and asked him what he did, and he told her that yes, indeed communication is so behind the times that it actually prevents you from doing your job as SoS and effectively responding to threats, to the extent that Powell himself just started using GMail for comms – i.e. his secure emails were literally stored and analyzed by a private company for their analysts to do with whatever the hell they wanted – and then after his tenure he just plain deleted his whole account and every single ostensibly FOIA-ble communication therein. And so Hillary went with a private server and her own security.


                                    • And of course what Powell did was ok because he wasn’t about to run for President.

                                      Less “ok” and more like “risky”. He eliminated a safety net. That’s fine as long as there are no complications and/or nothing goes wrong.

                                      If he faces, or creates, additional issues (say, he’s the head of a charity that’s accepting money from Russian gangsters while doing favors for them in his public office), then his email situation would look like a way to avoid controls and defeat investigation.


                                  • trizz,

                                    Absolutely. Well, sorta absolutely. I don’t think Clinton engaged in any illegal activity by having her own server. She didn’t even violate established norms at the time. My criticism of her, from the beginning of this whole mess, is restricted to the political aspects of how she handled it. For example, her total answer when initially asked about why she didn’t use the State.gov email system was because State couldn’t guarantee security on her Blackberry, a phone which she wanted to keep, and that she didn’t want to carry two devices. (Turns out she actually DID carry two devices – her phone and an Ipad, but whatevs.)

                                    So, put that answer in context. She’s already perceived by the right and lots of moderates as dishonest and secretive, there’s an issue regarding the possibility of either being hacked or illegally sharing classified information, and her total justification for a system which by its very existence confirms people’s worst beliefs about her, is that she didn’t want to carry two devices. That smacks of evasion (for those disinclined to believe her) and being patronized to (for those who might have been inclined to support her).

                                    If the fact that State security sucked fully generally was the actual reason for her actions then why didn’t she express that view when initially quizzed by reporters about the topic? Wouldn’t that have been a more politically palatable explanation, in part because it’s (presumably) true? At every turn in the development of the scandal her actions and responses to straight forward questions reinforced and often amplified the perception that something elicit, if not illegal, had transpired, or that she viewed voters and the public generally with a high level of disregard.


                                    • At every turn in the development of the scandal her actions and responses to straight forward questions reinforced and often amplified the perception that something elicit, if not illegal, had transpired, or that she viewed voters and the public generally with a high level of disregard.

                                      Well, maybe, but she certainly viewed the press with a high level of disregard, and no wonder. That was her critical weakness. Not generalized unpopularity, not bad campaign management, not email server management follies—two decades of incredibly toxic, two-sided metaphorical warfare between her and the Washington press corps.


                                      • We’re gonna have to disagree on that. Her antagonistic relationship with the DC press corp is of a piece with her generalized unpopularity, her incompetence at running a political campaign, her inability to get in front of or even minimally defuse the email scandal. She’s a bad politician. (She’s not all that good on policy, either, in my opinion.) Which isn’t her fault, of course. Just who she is.


                                    • Yeah I agree.

                                      I think we’re in “I’ve always tried to tell the truth” territory here. At some point during the race both candidates were asked if they were honest people, Clinton wavered and said that she always tried to tell the truth but one cannot really know. Trump, as he does, said that he was the most honest person in politics and lots of people tell him so. To me, the latter is the obvious bragging of a liar and the former is a thoughtful answer. But to voters it just fit into a larger cloud of lying and deception that hung around her; to the extent that “I’ve always tried to tell the truth” was an oft repeated criticism of Clinton on AM radio and such.

                                      I’m guessing, based on Powell’s extreme measures, that the system really was extremely unwieldy but that Clinton decided to circumvent it for a spectrum of reasons: (a) it’s annoying, (b) she didn’t want to use two phones, (c) she couldn’t get what she needed done, (d) the internal sys people were unhelpful, (e) she was careless and didn’t think about it, and (f, not the least) that it was a convenient way to keep things out of FOIA just in case. And during the campaign she essentially deployed all of these (except for FOIA) in some mixture, which – if you were Hillary telling me a long story over beers – is probably the most honest response, but it was – yet again – the one that fit into the cloud of lying and deception.

                                      Anyways, I have very little doubt that this whole fiasco would have been a non-issue if Clinton had simply come out, right from the beginning, and said “Let me be clear, my job was to keep America safe and when the antiquated government bureaucracy prevented me from doing that job I found a solution that maximized security and communication in the way I felt appropriate, just as my predecessors had done. [*West Wing theme starts to swell*] I will not be releasing any emails from the server, as is entirely consistent within State Dept regulations, and I will answer with the previous sentence verbatim every time I am asked this question“. But then, if she had done that she wouldn’t be Hillary. At the very least, I would hope that someone smart at her side had said “Look, you cannot simultaneously release some of the emails and delete the others – whatever the reason – they will eat you alive with speculation”. But then, if she hired smart people who told her “No” in times of crisis she wouldn’t be Hillary.


                                • This is a disappointing response. Not that it’s not true at some level, but still it’s either ignorant or bad faith or both.

                                  “It’s a matter of pubic record that George Zimmerman has no animus toward African-Americans or other racial minorities.”

                                  “It’s a matter of public record that Microsoft has achieved a market dominant position through technological innovation and has not now or in the past relied on anti-competitive practices.”

                                  Even if you believed the underlying assertions, I venture that you would never actually say those things without any credible attempt to justify them.


                                  • Koz, there was actual, real, objective reporting at the time of the meeting between Clinton and State Dept officials regarding integrating their security system into her Blackberry. The upshot was that State said they couldn’t guarantee that the device would be secure and wanted her to switch to a different brand of phone for which they could guarantee security. At the end of the meeting Clinton said, right out loud to the staffers, that she wanted to keep her phone. So she kept her phone, ditched State.gov entirely (she didn’t want to carry that extra device, man) and hired a guy at $6000/month to maintain her own private server and security.


                                    • To be specific: This was all about her non-secure State.gov address and her non-secure work email.

                                      I’ve got to say, in terms of security, it’s better than using gmail like Powell did. (I have no idea what accesses Google’s sysadmins have to individual mailboxes).

                                      Leakage between secure and non-secure email is an entirely different conversation than the one about her private server versus her state.gov address, despite people conflating them constantly.


                                    • Yes, and ……?

                                      Presumably she is innocent, or lacks criminal motive, or is only guilty of negligible offenses, right?

                                      Again, the implicit logical path from here to there seems to be either ignorant or in bad faith given the avalanche of alleged facts printed in multiple outlets over a period of many months. Many of the alleged facts, it should be said, which were never seriously disputed either by the Clinton campaign or the mainstream media. Facts which indicate obvious criminal liability for Mrs Clinton demanding a legitmate arm’s length prosecution.

                                      And compounding that, there were own obvious evasions about yoga routines and Chelsea’s wedding pictures, etc., etc.

                                      Is there some reason why you don’t accept the relevance of this information, instead choosing to believe a useful, politically convenient front story?


                                      • Presumably she is innocent, or lacks criminal motive, or is only guilty of negligible offenses, right?

                                        I think that’s how it works in this country, right?


                                            • Following up on that, Koz, I certainly don’t you expect to provide that evidence. Hell, the GOP spent 2 1/2 years looking for exactly what you’re saying is obvious and couldn’t find anything substantive. So there’s a point at which the assertion that a person has enagaged in illegal activity requires some supporting evidence. And I say that as someone who isn’t a Hillary supporter.


                                              • It seems that we have a completely different understanding of what the reasonably well-known public information on that score is. It is my contention that over the course of many months, there has been many many accounts in the media, presumably from many many sources, alleging facts which easily support criminal charges and convictions against Mrs Clinton.

                                                Here is one, but you could easily paper your walls with others.

                                                From my point of view, if there is one thing at all that does not apply to this particular episode of Mrs Clinton’s misconduct, it is a lack of evidence.


                                                • Well, we’re about to find out if you’re right. With Lynch and Comey gone, replaced by Trump loyalists, we’ll see if Clinton indictments shortly follow.


                                                  • I don’t anticipate they would be imminent. That was the story shortly after the election, and I don’t know what has happened since then to change things.

                                                    To me, your prior comments were more interesting anyway, precisely because they so inexplicable. So do you concede that in fact there were plenty of media reports in the public domain asserting facts which if true would constitute evidence of significant criminal liability against Mrs Clinton?

                                                    And beyond that, where the idea came from that Mrs Clinton’s preference for one or two mobile devices was the operative consideration?


                                                    • To be honest, Koz, the topic just isn’t interesting enough for me to pursue it. Whether Hillary committed crimes or not is not for me to decide, and given that I haven’t seen the relevant evidence nor am I able to to determine if it rises to the level sufficient to recommend prosecution I’ll have to refrain from making a judgment. I have heard lots of people say that she should be locked up tho. Rudy Guiliani, for example, the first person in the article you linked to. He may get the opportunity to act on his judgment in the near future and actually lock.her.up!


                                                      • To be honest, Koz, the topic just isn’t interesting enough for me to pursue it. Whether Hillary committed crimes or not……

                                                        Right, but I think you are missing the angle here.

                                                        Right now, the point isn’t about whether or not Mrs Clinton committed crimes, what they were, etc., but the state of your knowledge, what you believe to be relevant or determinative and why.

                                                        Here we have, as I see it, compelling evidence of Mrs
                                                        Clinton’s guilt plastered all over the press for months. Pertaining to this, you asserted that she preferred to carry one device instead of two (Presuming this to be true, that was a fact I did not know. And now that I do know it, I don’t see why I should consider it to be important).

                                                        There’s some reason why your instinct was to suppose that preference was supposed to be dispositive. Well, what was it?

                                                        I’m glad to tell you where I’m going with this if you care, but it seems pretty clear to me.


                                                  • With Lynch and Comey gone, replaced by Trump loyalists, we’ll see if Clinton indictments shortly follow.

                                                    I hope not.

                                                    I suspect she deserves it, but this country does not. It will be seen by far too many as something that happens because she lost. And arresting someone because they lost the election raises the stakes way too high.


                                                      • Very good, that sums up what I was groping for. You should never arrest someone for legit policy opinion differences, and what people consider “legit policy opinions” differs.

                                                        Clinton is to corruption what Bush was to torture. We think they’re guilty, but proving it would be painful, maybe impossible, and it’d be handing a brand new club for the powers-that-be to use on the powers-that-not-be and everyone else.


                        • morat20,
                          Question: How bad is it that she had known spies at top levels of her organization? Spies passing data to spies?

                          (also, Weiner is the worst spy ever. Spies are supposed to be low profile, not public jokes and nuisances).


                          • No they wouldn’t. The level of leakage into the non-secure system was negligible, and none of it was truly sensitive data. Compared to the volume of truly sensitive data State deals with on a daily basis…

                            A handful of senders might have received a minor smack on the wrist, at worst.

                            I know Clinton has to be the worst ever, but this email thing was bluntly BS from the get-go. You had a private server subbing for her non-secure email, the same system her predecessors used, and after the equivalent of a full security audit, down to the bones, all that was found were a handful of small leaks of minor data.

                            The worst of which was, as noted, discussion of an NYT story. Others were things like the day’s call logs (classified until the end of the day by State themselves, which means they’re the authority on how to treat it).

                            This from a group dealing, daily, with large volumes of much more critical data.


      • I did.

        Abedin would sometimes forward unclassified emails, from the unclassified server, to her husband’s device so they could be printed,

        There’s no reason to think she was forwarding anything sensitive. The FBI was, before he was fired, trying to find a wsay to correct Comey’s misstatement without making him look too bad.


  12. Here’s something for the “Lessons Learned” whiteboard:

    In defending his decisions, Comey offered some new details about what FBI agents found last fall, after they realized a laptop belonging to former New York congressman Anthony Weiner (D) contained thousands of work emails involving Clinton. At the time, Weiner was married to Huma Abedin, who was a senior aide to Clinton. Agents were looking at Weiner’s laptop because he was under investigation for possibly inappropriate communications with a minor.

    “Somehow, her emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information,’’ Comey said, adding later, “His then-spouse Huma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him to print out for her so she could deliver them to the secretary of state.”


  13. You’d think running SOS would have fixed this… unless she’s turned State into a dysfunctional mess? I’ve heard she did a good job, but I suppose it’s possible that’s happy talk from a fawning press.

    We the people really should be filtering Presidential candidates on “history of successfully running a large organization”, which weirdly Trump passes.


  14. What follows is predictable to anyone who has worked in a dysfunctional, low-trust office environment. People close to her don’t come to her with problems, don’t voice their concerns, and don’t tell her when she’s wrong. People further out have to circumvent the campaign apparatus to do so. Mistakes and misconceptions made go uncorrected. In some cases because the people on the campaign themselves miss it, but in others because they follow incentives where loyalty is conflated with support for a given course of action…. Clinton was not being told what she needed to hear…. Combine all that with a fluid-non-hierarchial command structure and bad decisions are simply inevitable.

    The end result was not only mistakes being made, but what turned out to be some of the biggest ones… were left without any sort of correction mechanism. And even when a problem was recognized,… there wasn’t a chain of command or any real way to pivot and make a change…. [T]hey bet the entire farm on analytic models that didn’t pan out, and even after they lost were left feeling like there was nothing else they really could have done.

    These issues appeared over and over again, in one form or another.

    A structural issue. Not really news there.
    These issues are all symptomatic of single-loop feedback organizations. Feedback is a very important part of the communication model, and is central to modern scientific management principles. Chart here.

    A horizontal management structure is preferable in a definable set of circumstances.

    These things are not new. It was known since the mid-1960’s that the post-war success of American business was grounded primarily on an environment where it was practically impossible for business to fail.
    A more competitive global environment has led to the need to address deficiencies in management; e.g., there is now sufficient data to determine that Vroom’s normative decision model does in fact produce more high-quality decisions than any other available model.

    I find it somewhat ironic that those in oft-voiced support of innovations in energy, transportation, telecommunications, etc., are prone to death-grip clinging to obsolete human resource concepts.
    For all practical purposes sake, the hacienda-style of personnel management never goes out of style.


  15. Is there room to say…

    “Clinton ran a bad/flawed campaign which would probably still have been just good enough to win but for the actions of Comey.”


    “If Clinton had run an even halfway decent campaign, she could have overcome whatever impact arose from Comey’s actions.”


    • I suppose there is an argument to be made that an increase in decibel level does, indeed, result from flatulence occurring while a crowd cheers.


    • This is the problem with something being overdetermined.

      Sure, this happened, this other thing happened, this other other thing happened, plus the passing out right in the middle of the media arguing that questioning her health was a dirty trick… but if it wasn’t for Comey, she still might have won, probably!

      This only has but so much persuasive power.

      I mean, why not lean into something like “sure, she had the Comey letter, but if she had not given the speech in which she relished putting coal companies out of work, the basket of deplorables speech, and specifically found a way *OTHER* than email to get the town hall questions before the fact, she probably would have won. If she hadn’t done all that dumb and avoidable crap, she could have withstood a lot more stuff like the Comey letter”?

      Isn’t that just as true?


        • And aren’t you doing the same?After all, the allure of ascribing Hillary’s loss entirely to her is to know exactly who to blame.

          No complexities, no outside factors. Just someone to point the finger at and say “THEIR FAULT”.


          • I mean, at this point, Putin could actually come out and admit he worked with Trump to rig the voting machines (note, I don’t think this actually happened in any way) and Stillwater would still find a way to blame it on Clinton’s campaign.


            • The only thing I blame Hillary for is running a terrible campaign. I don’t even blame her for being a terrible candidate: the blame for that falls on the Dem Party establishment.


          • Morat,

            Upthread I said that the Comey letter negatively effected her chances of winning the election. That doesn’t mean I can’t also criticize and hold her accountable for multiple self-inflicted political blunders including the scandal which resulted in Comey writing his Oct 28 letter to congress.


          • “Just someone to point the finger at and say “THEIR FAULT”.”

            Doesn’t it make Clinton look like a worse choice, if a letter about some emails was all it took to make 3/4 of the country not choose her last November?