Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was shell-shocked when she lost to President Donald J. Trump. Her supporters, her donors, her campaign team were all thunderstruck that she lost to a person who seemed to be the weakest candidate the Republicans have ever nominated to the presidency. In the end, she lost, Trump won, the GOP retained control of Congress, maintained two-thirds control of the governorships, and increased their power in the states—controlling 69/99 legislatures. Half of the states have a unified Republican state government. In all, Trump led the GOP to becoming the most dominant political force in the country. What the hell happened? Remember the demographic lock the Democrats had on the electorate? Well, that turned out to be false—as with any hypothesis that says there will be a permanent political majority. The Republicans said that under Bush. The Democrats said it under Obama. Both projections went down in flames.
As she enjoys her departure from public life (though there are rumors she might run for mayor of New York City), she’s combing through data points and studying why she lost the election. Is this the beginnings of mapping a road for a political comeback? It’s too early to tell. Moreover, she’s doing exactly what Bill Clinton did when he lost his 1980 re-election campaign for governor of Arkansas. Bill went to every part of the state, talking with voters, finding where he fell short. Two years later (at the time the state’s term limit was two years for governor), he was back in the governor’s mansion and remained there until he moved to the White House in 1993. As a result, Bill has reportedly been going over precinct data as well (via Politico):
The one-time secretary of state has been in contact with a range of ex-aides, studying presentations as she tries to better understand the forces behind her shocking November defeat.
Included among those presentations has been a series of reports pulled together by her former campaign manager Robby Mook and members of his team, who have updated her not just on data and polling errors, but also on results among segments of the electorate where she underperformed, according to Democrats familiar with the project.
“She understands that a forensic exam of the campaign is necessary, not only for her, but for the party and other electeds, and for the investors in the campaign,” said a close Hillary Clinton friend in Washington who, like several others, declined to speak on the record because their conversations with one or both Clintons were private. “People want to know that their investment was treated with respect, but that their mistakes wouldn’t be repeated."
For his part, Bill Clinton has spent considerable time poring over precinct-level results from the 2016 race while meeting with and calling longtime friends to rail against FBI Director James Comey’s late campaign intervention and Russia’s involvement, say a handful of Democrats who have spoken with him.
It’s really not that hard to explain why Clinton lost. She didn’t venture outside of the urban progressive bubbles and that burned her. Clinton and her team thought that the Obama coalition would just transfer over to her, despite her not being viewed as trustworthy, authentic, or honest by voters. She was also underwater with some key groups in that coalition prior to start of the 2016 campaign—and it's obvious that underperformance didn’t vastly improve as Election Day neared. She also didn’t visit the Rust Belt or offer how she would protect working class voters. Instead, she attacked Trump. The end result: losing rural voters by a three-to-one margin, allowing Trump to run the table on her. That coupled lackluster Democratic turnout in key areas, like Milwaukee and Detroit, led to Trump and the GOP winning Wisconsin and Michigan for the first time since 1984 and 1988 respectively. The blue wall got smashed because no one bothered to stand guard. If she was able to reduce Trump’s margin with rural voters by two-to-one, things might have been different.
Clinton and her team thought white working class whites, which number in the millions, weren’t worth it. This is the embodiment of what Trump has been saying, that these people are the forgotten class. Well, they had their revenge on November 8, 2016.
As for the future, the publication added that it’s highly unlikely that the Clintons refrain from politics. It’s in their blood; all of their friends are still in the business. For now, it’s down time for them (Hillary is contemplating writing, Bill is back at the Clinton Foundation), but be sure to watch them as the 2018 midterm elections draw nearer. At the same time, there are some in the party that are annoyed that there is no public autopsy for donors and activists to improve upon shortfalls for future elections:
And some Clinton supporters in the states are irritated by the lack of a formal, public-facing autopsy from her campaign since the absence of even a preliminary acknowledgment of fault has made it harder for the party to raise money on a local level — donors feel burned.
Still, they may want to know how they lost, but there is no indication that they’ll run for national office again. So, we can close this chapter for good. Hillary Clinton will never be president.