- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The interim chair of the Democratic National Committee said Tuesday she has created an “advisory group” to look into what went so wrong for the party in the 2016 election, just four years after the GOP went through a similar post-election soul-searching.

Donna Brazile said the DNC is also rethinking whether superdelegates have had too much power in the Democratic nomination process after facing a barrage of criticism from grass-roots activists who thought the unelected officials played an outsize role in steering the nomination toward Hillary Clinton and away from Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont.

More than anything else, however, Ms. Brazile blamed the party’s stumbles Nov. 8 on depressed turnout she said stemmed from “voter suppression” efforts in key states — including Ohio, Wisconsin and North Carolina — that Donald Trump carried.

“In many swing states, voter suppression succeeded in its ultimate, if unstated goal: diluting democracy through disfranchisement,” Ms. Brazile said in a memo posted online.

Ms. Brazile took the reins at the DNC after Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida stepped aside this summer hours before the kickoff of the Democratic National Convention. Her leadership became untenable when a cache of hacked emails showed party officials had conspired against Mr. Sanders in the primary race.

Mr. Sanders’ loyal supporters were further enraged after hacked emails posted by WikiLeaks showed that Ms. Brazile, while working as a commentator on CNN, shared primary debate questions with Mrs. Clinton.

Democrats are poised to elect a new party leader next year.

Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who has the support of Mr. Sanders, is running to replace Ms. Brazile, and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who previously served as DNC chair, also has announced a bid.

Ms. Brazile said there were some bright spots in the election, pointing out that Mrs. Clinton won the popular vote, the party picked up seats in the House and the Senate and that referendums to increase the minimum wage passed in five states.

“But I was raised to tell it straight. This isn’t the result we were hoping for. Not even close,” she said.

Ms. Brazile said a Unity Commission has been tasked with reevaluating the superdelegate process and a “new advisory group will look back at why we were not able to win this presidential election in the Electoral College, and how we can reconnect with hardworking Americans from every segment of society and every community in this country.”

And she said a cybersecurity task force would offer recommendations on how to defend its technology from future attacks.

The DNC not only faced the WikiLeaks breach, which officials blamed on Russia, but Mr. Sanders’ own campaign managed to exploit a hole in the system to get a look at Mrs. Clinton’s files in 2015.

Democrats’ evaluation of their election failure comes four years after Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus commissioned a similar autopsy report out of the GOP’s election miss in 2012. That report told the party to modernize its ground game and soften its message on issues such as immigration.

Mr. Trump appears to have benefited from the RNC’s revamped ground game, but largely dismissed the report’s recommendations on how best to make inroads with Hispanic and black voters on his way to defeating Mrs. Clinton.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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