Hillary Clinton’s team would like you to believe it was FBI Director James B. Comey, Russian hacking, or American racism, xenophobia and bigotry that caused her to lose the White House.
In reality, it was campaign malfeasance. Here are five examples, where Mrs. Clinton’s campaign team strategically blew it.
1. Taking the month of August off
In August, the polls indicated Mrs. Clinton had a lead, and Donald Trump had just come off a very ugly feud with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of a fallen soldier.
Still, Mr. Trump was not out — he still had a base of 36 percent to 43 percent of the national vote.
Nonetheless, Mrs. Clinton’s team decided to give her a summer break to focus on star-studded fundraising events in the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard.
According to a report from Politico: “The main goal for the month, the campaign thought, was to raise cash — ultimately a whopping $143 million — at a time when fewer people would notice that the self-professed daughter of the middle class was lounging around at Steven Spielberg’s lavish carriage house in the Hamptons.”
“So at this moment of Trump’s maximum vulnerability, Clinton was work-vacationing with the likes of Jon Bon Jovi, Paul McCartney and Jimmy Buffett in the manses of Long Island, Beverly Hills, Martha’s Vineyard and Silicon Valley,” Politico wrote. “She didn’t ever seriously consider adding a slate of new events to keep the Khan and other controversies on the front-burner, advisers told me at the time. As one senior official later put it, ‘We had made out risk-reward calculation, and we were going to stick with it.’ “
Meanwhile, Mr. Trump commenced on a backbreaking tour of the Midwest — visiting the Rust Belt and staying disciplined with his economic-renewal, forgotten-man message. He brought on Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager, where she focused the campaign on 35 bellwether counties in battleground states.
2. Not campaigning in Wisconsin, Michigan
Mrs. Clinton never stepped foot in the state of Wisconsin during the general election, as her team thought she had it in the bag. In Michigan, however, the Service Employees International Union started having anxiety about the state and wanted to reroute some volunteers there later in the campaign.
According to a report in Politico: “SEIU — which had wanted to go to Michigan from the beginning, but had been ordered not to — dialed Clinton’s top campaign aides to tell them about the new plan [to send their troops to Michigan]. According to several people familiar with the call, Brooklyn was furious.”
“Turn that bus around, the Clinton team ordered SEIU,” Politico reported. “Those volunteers need to stay in Iowa to fool Donald Trump into competing there, not to drive to Michigan, where the Democrat’s models projected a 5-point win through the morning of Election Day.”
Let’s reiterate — Mrs. Clinton knew Mr. Trump had the advantage in Iowa and that she would lose the state — her team was just so overconfident, they were strategically trying to lure Mr. Trump to spend more money there, instead of focusing on other states in the Midwest — where again, they were overconfident (and wrong) that they would win.
3. Misallocating her monetary advantage
There was no doubt, Mrs. Clinton had the upper-hand when it came to cash.
Federal Election Commission reports indicate going into the home stretch Mrs. Clinton had $132 million in the bank, compared to Mr. Trump’s $94 million.
She more than doubled her TV spending the final days, putting a much greater emphasis on the traditional medium to reach voters than Mr. Trump’s team — which invested in get-out-the-vote digital advertising targeted in the final few days to Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida.
Mrs. Clinton also spent much money traveling — to places like Arizona in the final weeks, where she had no business being, and understaffed places like Michigan. Politico reported volunteers there were unable to get lawn signs or pamphlets of her policy positions.
Robby Mook, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, admitted some spending mistakes, saying he regretted not putting more staff in Michigan at a Harvard University gathering of journalists and campaign strategists. When the state certified its results, Mr. Trump had won by just under 11,000 votes.
The team also has money left over.
According to a report by Vanity Fair: “On December 15, Clinton is having a big party in Manhattan at the Plaza Hotel, once owned by Trump, for her campaign donors, as a sort of thank-you and keep-in-touch farewell. It is expected to cost more than $100,000 and be paid for with excess campaign funds.”
4. Going after the popular vote, not Electoral College win
The Democratic National Committee poured millions into Chicago, New Orleans and other urban areas in order to gin up votes, convinced Mrs. Clinton would win the Electoral College but lose the popular vote, instead of investing resources in swing-states.
The strategy was conceived and put into action by DNC interim head Donna Brazile.
According to a report from Politico: There “were millions approved for transfer from Clinton’s campaign for use by the DNC — which, under a plan devised by Brazile to drum up urban turnout out of fear that Trump would win the popular vote while losing the electoral vote, got dumped into Chicago and New Orleans, far from anywhere that would have made a difference in the election.”
Mrs. Clinton’s win in Illinois was never in doubt — as was her victory in the urban center of New Orleans. Mr. Trump was always a favorite to win the state.
5. Doubling down demonizing Mr. Trump, instead of articulating her own vision
Mrs. Clinton’s communication director Jennifer Palmieri said the proudest moment of the campaign was when Mrs. Clinton delivered her alt-right speech against Mr. Trump.
“It is one of my most proudest moments of her, is her standing up and saying with courage and clarity in Steve Bannon’s own words and Donald Trump’s own words, the platform that they gave to white supremacists, white nationalists and it is a very very important moment in our history of our country,” Ms. Palmieri said at the Harvard University campaign forum.
The problem with this is — it was exactly Mrs. Clinton’s problem.
She consistently ran negative ads about Mr. Trump, bucketed his supporters as a basket of deplorables, all the while not having a positive message she could articulate herself.
Yes, Mrs. Clinton had policy papers and a website where you could look up her entire record — but she never gave a convincing reason why she was running for president or what she wanted to do for the American populous. She never connected with white working-class Americans, and no one could decipher what her campaign slogan “Stronger Together” even meant.
She needed something more than — “It’s my turn, I’m a woman, I deserve the crown, and he’s terrible.”
Too bad her communication team thought that was enough.