Sunday, April 30, 2017

Democrats Say They Now Know Why Clinton Lost?

Why did Obama Win?

Democrats say they now know why Clinton lost

Many Democrats have a shorthand explanation for Clinton's defeat: Her base didn't turn out, Donald Trump's did and the difference was too much to overcome.
But new information shows that Clinton had a much bigger problem with voters who had supported President Barack Obama in 2012 but backed Trump four years later.
Those Obama-Trump voters effectively accounted for more than two-thirds of the reason Clinton lost
Priorities USA released a poll last week, conducted in part by Cantor's firm, that found the Democratic base — including voters who usually sit out midterm elections —unusually motivated to participate in the next election. The group have said in recent months that Democrats can both reach out to white working-class voters and their base with a strong message rooted in economic populism.
My first question is why did Obama succeed when Hilary failed?

Remember Obama had his "guns and religion" off the record characterization of the white working class that could have been as bad as Hilary's ''deplorables"

Why was Obama not able to convince his supporters from the white working class to support Hilary?

Is this as simple as Obama was the candidate of change in 2008 and Trump was the candidate of change in 2016?

Is this as simple as that Trump is a master of the media (branding himself as others);
Make America   great again!  The wall!  Trade agreements!  Job provider!

Is this as simple as Nativism: The Chinese? Moslems? Mexicans?

Is this as simple as Elitism: political? educational? media?

I think it a little to early in the data cycle to decide.

Any analysis has to explain why Obama succeeded in 2012. Why did Romney a millionaire fail when Trump as billionaire succeeded?

And one must also explain why (outside of Obama) Democrats have been losing elections across the country.


  1. I think at least part of the reason Hillary lost some of the Obama voters is that she's a woman. I think another reason reason is that Bernie sucked away some of the Democrats who would have otherwise voted for her - many of them just decided not to vote at all after he lost the nomination.

  2. But the research says that turning out the base was less than a third of the problem, and that some of that was that Blacks and Hispanics were not voting as much as they did for Obama.

    Sanders attracted young people and educated people; they were not a part of the turnout problem. Trump attracted middle aged and older people who were less educated. Sanders never did as well with these people although some of them likely preferred Sanders to Hilary in the primaries.

    Why would these people not vote for a white woman when they voted for a Black male, not once but twice! And Obama campaigned for her!

  3. I can think of a few reasons why less educated lower middle class white people would not vote for her, even though they voted for Obama ....

    (1) the woman thing
    (2) the perception that she is more liberal and less religious than Obama .... these were reasons that made me vote for her instead of him in the primary back then.
    (3) she was perceived as being more on the side of the wealthy (Wall Street banks), as being complicit in illegal schemes, while Obama wasn't.

  4. They kept harping on the e-mails, and Benghazi, and the "crooked" meme. Though how Trump was able to get that to stick, with his record, I don't know. I don't think Hillary ever stiffed people that worked for her. Then there was Bill. There was still a lot of residual bad feeling about his scandals that nearly got him removed from office. But I think Trump already tops those. He may end up topping Nixon. And Warren Harding.

  5. If African-Americans had turned out in larger numbers, if Comey hadn't revived "phonegate," or if he had been an equal offender by mentioning Kremlingate, or if the media had treated Trump like any other candidate instead of as a TV star, or if the Ds had looked after their once vaunted ground game, or if the Rs hadn't succeeded in convincing so many natural union members that their union card was a passport to unemployment, or if Obama hadn't gone to the mat for a trade deal that had TP in its title, or if he had ended the wars and closed Gitmo or both... then Hillary might have won. It would have helped her if she had had anything to say besides shouting that Trump and Rs hate women, which everybody knows.

    Her main problem was, and her party's problem remains, that it has no message not even an incoherent one like the message Trump ran on.

  6. I worry about all this introspection in the Democratic party, and I don't think Clinton's loss was rocket science.

    Fair or not, people were tired of Hillary and Clinton baggage after 25 years of exposure. She clearly doesn't enjoy campaigning. She appeals to a narrow group of Democrats. Uncle Joe Biden would have done better. So would Barbara Mikulski or Diane Feinstien. Sadly, they didn't wanna run.

  7. I just finished watching "Catholics and Politics in the Age of Trump: A Commonweal panel discussion."

    Leslie Tentler an historian argued that a similarly bad period in the 1920s saw the rise of the KKK and anti-Catholicism. It was short lived. Al Smith did get the nomination although he lost the presidency. However, there was a long time reduction of immigrants that lasted until 1965.

    Andrew Sullivan was much more pessimistic. He sees this as a world- wide phenomena with a technological and economic elite that is out of touch. Less educated White males are not just facing economic problems but a collapse of their world. He thinks the Democratic party is going nowhere, that they have not yet begun to come to terms with the magnitude of their problem.

    Did anyone see this?

    1. I didn't not see this. However, I agree that the Dems are out if touch with working class white men. Raber works in a small wood shop with other skilled blue collar workers. Increasingly, these jobs are being lost to automation, and custom jobs are contracted out. That puts guys who are expert wood workers in the position of having to act as independent contractors, a whole other job that takes up time away from their craft and one that some guys aren't very good at. In addition, these jobs take a physical toll. Guys who have full-time jobs get laid off when they hit 50 and start costing the company money with leg, back, shoulder, or hand problems. I don't think I can convey the pride these men (and women--there are two young women in the shop) feel in their work. They design things, they experiment with finishes, and they understand how to accommodate a project to the type and age of the wood they use (Raber's company works with reclaimed barn wood). They have a giant industrial planer built in the 1920s they refurbished and keep in running order. It was built to process the kind of lumber they reclaim that is bulkier and heavier than reforested wood used now. Most of the people at the shop despise Trump. But most of them had no affinity for Hillary. They supported Bernie with a few libertarians thrown in.

    2. Jean,

      Great summary of the white working class that gets beyond the stereotypes of the coastal elites.

      The whole idea that working class people don't have skills is nonsense. We just don't want to pay them the wage those skills deserve. We prefer cheaper products that don't use those skills.

      There is little recognition of the physical toll labor extracts from working men.

      Most of all there is little recognition of the pride that has been involved in working class labor. Working class people see elites as people who have no respect for working class skills.

    3. Jack, I would also add that many skilled blue collar workers have left the unions for a variety of reasons. The carpenters union, for instance, requires that members pass their apprenticeship program (and many older carpenters learned the trade on the job or in the Armed Forces), and the union sends them to union-approved jobs around the nation, so they are away from home and family for long periods of time.

      Raber's co-workers are active in their churches and communities. Some of them are raising grandchildren. Union work, which pays much better, would erode these connections. So they have settled for less money and more time with the people they care about.

      These guys listen to the news, read books, talk about movies, (and often like to swap colorful stories about their time in the service). The notion that they are Jim-Bobs who drink beer and watch ESPN all weekend is also a stereotype that needs to be debunked.

      Thank you for recognizing that!

  8. Andrew Sullivan is a conservative Libertarian so it's not surprising he doesn't think much of the Democrats.

    1. I agree with Sullivan (as summarized), and I am not a conservative libertarian.

      Had hoped to watch the panel, but our neighbor, who speaks as if she is addressing multitudes, dropped in, and nothing could be heard but her.

    2. Crystal,
      You left out Andrew's most salient qualification, he hates Hilary. But he was for Obama. So maybe we should listen to him.

    3. Sullivan was one of the few pundits that was convinced all along that Hilary would lose and that Trump would win. And he is certainly no Trump fan.

      Sullivan sees (correctly in my opinion) that Trump is fundamentally producing a TV show rather than running the government. (Maybe other people will run the government for Trump, I think he is just enjoying being King, the center of media attention, issuing orders, etc.)

      He thinks that Trump destroyed the Republican Party with its conservative elites. Implicitly Trump also destroyed the Democratic Party, too. Both are not recognizing what happened

      Sullivan said he has been surprised so far how resilient Constitutional government has been. Sullivan is a conservative in the old fashion sense, namely with a high respect for the moderating role of institutions.

      Sullivan said that he would only find hope if the young people who are flocking to the coasts to serve in the industries of the coastal elites decided to return to the heartland and renew it.

    4. The coastal elite ;) There are all different kinds of people here on the west coast, including farm workers.

  9. So far no one has really tackled my question at the top: Why did Obama win? We keep getting distracted by the last election, by Hilary and Trump.

    Obama won not just once, but twice. And he left office with a net positive rating. He was able to attract working class voters that Trump attracts. But he was unable to convince the American people that Hilary should be president.

    (Given the recent reaction to his proposed high fee Wall Street speeches I have my doubts that Obama will maintain his party and national leadership role)

    Bernie Sanders has risen to higher approval ratings than even Obama. Joe Biden had approval ratings that were close to Obama's.

    Otherwise the Democrats (including Hilary) have done poorly in both approval ratings and winning elections. Now I am going in future posts to raise the issues that I think are important but it is good to begin with a check on just who the people are who have some appeal.

    1. Why did Obama win?
      1. George W. Bush and his Administration had taken the country into two wars, lied, couldn't end the wars, and were setting off a major financial crisis.
      2. Obama ran against John McCain and Sarah Palin.
      3. Obama had written two autobiographical works that showed him and his grandparents to be decent people and strivers--Americans especially love that.
      4. He was a cool likable guy, and as he said to his primary opponent, Hillary you're likable enough (that was generous).
      5. He had a terrific wife and two adorable daughters.

  10. I like Andrew Sullivan and I was a subscriber to his Dish blog, but he is a conservative who probably didn't like Hillary in part for her stance on women's reproductive rights. People from other parties have opinions about what's wrong with the Democratic party but its easy to criticize from the outside.

    1. You have rather strong feelings about who counts as a Democrat. I was born a Democrat, namely my father a steelworker was a Democrat. He never liked Reagan.

      Some working class people left the Democratic Party for Reagan, but I think the Democratic Party including both Clintons left the working class in favor of the elites. Unfortunately I think that Obama may have joined them once he got into the White House.

    2. Registered Democrats are Democrats. It's weird when an Independent like Bernie can have such influence in a party he doesn't belong to. I do think the Democratic party is the party of the poor and marginalized, especially compared to the alternative parties.

  11. Jack, Obama won because he had a message, Hope, and made a plausible case that he could deliver. Then, when the Great Recession hit, he was not clueless, and John McCain was. That election really was all about the economy.

    For years later he had the good luck to get a hedge funder who had an elevator in his garage and never was as plausible as his supporters still think he was. He walked like someone who was sitting down, and talked like the jeune premier who pops onto the set from time to time to get other characters out of the room by chirping, "Who's for tennis?"

    Trump ran on hope, too. Less plausibly, but his opponent wasn't running on anything but entitlement,her own, and momentum. Most American elections are decided by the answer to the question, Who would you really never vote for?" The other one wins.

    1. Tom,
      The lesser of two evils has long been my explanation for voting, ever since Goldwater vs. Johnson. But I don' think it quite explains either Obama or Trump.

    2. Another reason people voted for Obama which hasn't been mentioned is that there were no raging scandals associated with him. A nickname was "no drama Obama". They tried to gin up the Birther controversy. And the "community organizer = communist" controversy. And of course the closet Muslim designation. But in the end it was pretty weak stuff. He was generally perceived as honest, integrity still counts. Which doesn't explain Trump, whom nobody perceives as honest. But his alt-right supporters live in an alt-fact alt-universe, so it doesn't matter to them.
      BTW, I don't think Obama is awful for accepting speaking engagements, even well-paying ones. The guy has to do something besides play golf. And besides, he'll soon have two kids in college.

  12. I wish instead of people asking what the Democrats did wrong, they would just face the fact that what's wrong is not the Democratic party but that a percentage of the US really are 'deplorables' who wanted and got a lying psychopath as their leader, deplorables who don't care that children's lunches and old people's meals on wheels will be ended as long as they themselves will have even more, who don't care about the loss of civil liberties or the environment or really anything except themselves.

    Sorry - I just watched the latest white house press briefing and Mulvaney was talking about the budget. He makes Scrooge look like a saint in comparison.

  13. Why Clinton Lost: Nate Silver at 538 has this focused on Comey's letter AND the media treatment, especially the NYTimes.
    Good Analysis.