Swing state exit polls show Hillary won “economy” voters

So, this is interesting.

According to a broad swath of popular understanding, Donald Trump will be the next president because he narrowly won three critical states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — powered by working class voters frustrated with economic intransigence.

But that’s not what exit polling shows in those states…. Exit polls show Hillary Clinton winning a majority of the vote from people who told pollsters that the economy was the most important issue facing the country. What’s more, in each state, a majority of voters said that was the case….

How can she win a majority of the majority and still lose? Because she lost with other groups worse.

The exit poll questionnaire gave voters a choice between four options for the most important issue. Clinton was generally preferred by those who said foreign policy was the most important issue, too, but Trump was preferred by those who saw immigration or terrorism as most important. The key is the margins. On average, about 13 percent of people in the 27 states said foreign policy was most important and they preferred Clinton by an average of 30 points. On average, voters who said the economy was most important preferred Clinton by 7.3. But on terrorism, rated most important by a fifth of voters, on average, Trump led by an average of 21.8 points. On immigration (most important to an average of 12.2 percent of respondents)? A huge 42.1 percentage point lead for Trump.

Shorter: a majority of swing-state voters said the economy was the most important issue, and among those voters, Hillary won by about 7 points.  But she got slaughtered among voters who said terrorism or immigration was the #1 issue.  Bottom line:

across the country, the story told by the exit polls seems clear: Trump didn’t win because people were worried about the economy. He won thanks to people who were worried about the subjects of immigration and terrorism that he started hammering on from the very first day of his campaign.

Now, exit polling isn’t always right, so take this with the appropriate amount of salt.  But before you buy into the frame that Democrats lost because of their economic message, look into what the data show.  It’s maybe not so clear.


84 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Too bad the immigration message worked...

    …but I can’t for the life of me figure out how the Secretary of State who advised that we capture Osama bin Laden once and for all gets the weaker marks on terrorism.

  2. Interesting exit polling

    A bunch of thoughts:

    1. On terrorism, etc., I’m surprised that the Democratic message really didn’t penetrate at all. There are a couple important themes: patriotic Muslims are one of our best defenses against terrorism. Making our policy seem (or, worse, be) anti-Muslim will radicalize lone wolves and jeopardize our safety. Not clear to me why those two points aren’t self-evident and why Trump’s toughness-only stuff of doesn’t sound stupid to more people.

    2. As others have noted, bailing out the auto industry saved millions of jobs. Why couldn’t Democrats have run on this? This seems to be part of the horror of politicizing policy. (Likewise, by the way, the successes of the Affordable Care Act.)

    3. Long-term, for our economy, we have to be concerned about the ratio of retirees to workers. Immigration improves that ratio. Republicans seem hell-bent on bankrupting social security and Medicare. Can’t Democrats argue that?

    4. Economics is complex and the Democrats kept it complex. Trump told simple stories. (China is stealing our jobs. We’ve been negotiating bad deals. And so on.) Obviously, a president who’s going to foment trade wars is no friend of our exports; a president who pushes protectionism may save a handful of jobs here and there at the cost of raising prices for everyone. So maybe there were simple stories to tell about what was wrong with what Trump proposed. Democrats actually care about getting this stuff right whereas Rep. Ryan only seems to care about Koch-ish political correctness. There’s got to be a way to make that stuff clearer so that a Democratic candidate leads by more than single digits among those who care about the economy.

    5. The Supreme Court. Why did Trump capture the vast majority of voters who cared about the Supreme Court? You’d think a Democratic campaign would be able to tell horror stories about the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court during the Gilded Age was truly horrific. There have to anecdotes there.

    6. The “damned emails”. A majority of swing state voters answering exit polling were suspicious of Clinton due to the emails. Vox, for example, did an excellent job of putting the email situation into perspective. Why weren’t Clinton surrogates addressing this?

    • Great questions/points

      Especially 2 and 4 where I think there are Democrats (the President, Sen Sanders, Sen. Warren and even Sen. Franken) who can make these simple arguments without being simpletons. It’s really not difficult to do and something those individuals did brilliantly in their respective campaigns. It must be said that Franken got re-elected in 2014 in a swing state by running a simple message of how the game is rigged and pointing to specific fights he took against Wall Street. His campaign was really overlooked but is a great example of how anyone can co-opt the populist narrative for progressive policies.

    • Immigraton: Trump’s idiotic wall resonated because democrats generally refuse to distinguish between legal and illegal immigration. I believe a majority of voters are not in favor of rounding up people that are already here that entered illegally but are living productive lives and would support a path to citizenship if they were convinced the flow of people entering illegally in the future could be controlled.

      Emails: I’m not sure what there was to address. The private server was extraordinarily bad judgment. The more air time you gave this issue, the worse it was for her.

      ACA: Clearly a success in expanding access to health insurance to many folks that couldn’t afford it previously. However, this was done largely at the expense of people that were not much further up the food chain than those that benefited. If you had a good job and got your insurance through your employer the ACA had little affect on you. If you lost a good union job and were now working a couple of crappy jobs to get by, you were more likely to be negatively impacted by the ACA. I think the politics of that are not particularly helpful and likely caused some formerly reliably democratic voters to flip.

      • Good points on immigration pbrane

        Though I will say Obama has been pretty consistent in arguing we need a stronger and more secure border and those that get amnesty will be in the back of the line for citizenship. It’s a myth that there is a political movement for open borders.

        What we have consistently discussed is compassion for those that are already here and protection against exploitative employers. Cracking down big time on businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers would be a big blow for social and economic justice in addition to a symbolically tough stance against the flow of illegal immigrants. That’s the only way the numbers continue to drop. We also should begin distinguishing from political refugees fleeing drug war torn regions of the country from economic strivers hoping to make a quick buck to send home.

        One of the lesser known consequences of NAFTA was the destruction of the domestic Mexican agricultural economy which led to the displacement of thousands of migrants first to Mexican cities and then over the border to American ones. It was a lose lose for workers on both sides of the Rio.

        • Immigration

          I don’t think you can compare the lip service democrats give to “protecting the border” to the message of “build a wall”. The data would suggest a lot of voters don’t trust the democrats’ sincerity on this one. No one doubted Trump’s conviction.

          The vast majority of Hillary’s policy (per her website) addressed the plight of people here illegally. I don’t think that is a winning issue at the polls.

          Amnesty of whatever form gets even harder to sell when you combine it with other proposals, such as free tuition and healthcare. To a lot of people that, at a minimum, sounds really expensive, and to those that don’t trust that there is a commitment to stem the tide of future illegal entry, it sounds like an invitation to the next XX million people to come here through back channels.

          • Uprated as a worthy post

            Not sure I agree with all the contents but it’s important to understand the sentiment that propels the anti-immigration voters.

      • I have never understood this

        To Democrats, opposing illegal immigration or criticizing those who break the law is racist. To me, adding extra slots for Ireland like Sen. Kennedy did is more racist (has that ever been changed, by the way).

        And what race, anyway? Race and ethnicity has been so commingled in progressive rhetoric that it verges on meaningless.

        I recognize that many progressives regard the concepts of sovereign nation and national boundaries to be invalid anyways, but in a debate on immigration they need to be referenced .

        • I think

          … the extra slots for Ireland was a one-time thing. All politics is local, if you will.

        • We posted simultaneously

          By my post above yours is a fairly sound rebuttal to your points here. You’re welcome to disagree of course, one thing we need to have more of is different perspectives and debates.

          I think the independent contractor getting snowed by unsavory guys who load up undocumented workers on flatbeds in Home Depot has a right to be upset and isn’t a racist for doing so. What he routinely fails to grasp, which is what my father failed to grasp for a long time, is the blame lies with the unscrupulous employer and with the consumers that knowingly use this labor like Mitt Romney or Linda Chavez.

          And if you read Fast Food Nation you’d know that a combination of “right to work” laws and looser immigration enforcement wiped out the good paying union meatpacking jobs in Milwaukee and Chicago and replaced them with scab operated plants out in Nebraska and Oklahoma fueled by undocumented labor. Tyson, Purdue, Con Agra and Sara Lee had more to do with NAFTA and open borders than Teddy Kennedy who actively tried to push mandatory e-verify. The 1965 Immigration Act that he sponsored eliminated many of the racial quotas you rightfully disapprove of.

          • And as you know, I am a big fan...

            …of employer fines and punishments. There needs to be an effective way for employers to check status as they are now required to do. Right now that amounts to taking a photocopy if the driver’s license and other documents to prove you asked, with no way to verify authenticity. We need to crack down on the underground economy to eliminate depressed wages.

            But Democrats don’t want to do that because what then becomes of those who ARE here illegally? Too many to leave, too tragic if you enforce the law. When amnesty was granted in the ’70′s it was with the understanding that there would be enforcement going forward. Both parties did not do that for their own reasons. And that is what makes reasonable enforcement and a path to citizenship so unpopular nown. And when it us argued that convinced criminals deserve sanctuary treatment it goes from unpopular to impossible.

            • Why can't you do both/and?

              Fine or jail the employer and then allow the undocumented worker to stay here granted she gets out of the shadows, gets on a path to legalization and gets at the back of the line to be a citizen? I think throwing a few prominent bankers in jail would’ve had a more chilling effect on Wall Street malfeasance than Dodd-Frank, similarly, sending a few Tyson or Foxy CEOs to jail would just about end the coach busses they send down to the border to pick up some more scabs for the meat grinder or lettuce fields.

      • Didn't Obama actually increase deportations?

        Personally I’d like to get to the point where there is no line, that there is no motive for coming illegally unless you are really up to no good because the legal process is easy and open. IMO we should fast track those who have simply overstayed their visas provided there are no other problems, and we should offer immunity to anyone willing to blow the whistle on their employer.

      • Failure to communicate

        I think pbrane’s comments about the State Department emails reflect the poor communications done by the Democratic campaign.

        Ms. Clinton did not gain financially through having a private email server — though the Trump campaign seemed to hint this. That point was never clear.

        Too much gets classified generally. Much was classified far after the fact, and why things get classified is pretty murky.

        Secretary Clinton’s private email server was if anything more compliant than similar things that had happened during the Bush Administration.

        • I don't think you can blame it on messaging

          The Vox article unpacks a lot of stuff and doesn’t distill down to an easily communicated storyline. It could be right as rain but it doesn’t matter. What matters is the attacks stuck, and they stuck because the issues they raised were simple and easy to understand . It’s politics. The truth is a footnote.

    • To point #2: The bailout was irrelevant to many Rust Belt voters.

      As I mentioned in this comment on another thread, the auto bailout never worked for the Democrats, who were smoked in 2010 in the Rust Belt. Bernie Sanders won the Michigan Democratic Primary, despite opposing the bailout, and Trump took Michigan in the general election.

      A quote from Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) goes to the reason why:

      “The president did save my state’s industry,” she continued. “But what many keep missing is that working men and women don’t see this in their lives. They feel the system is rigged against them. And those workers are white, black, Hispanic, Muslim — all races, creeds and colors. Economic and national security fears overcame all other factors when they walked into the voting booth.”

      • Failure to communicate

        The difference between having and not having an auto bailout was substantial. It’s odd to me that that can’t be seen “in their lives”. The level of misery a collapse of the auto industry would have caused is simply immense.

      • ah...

        A quote from Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) goes to the reason why:

        “The president did save my state’s industry,” she continued. “But what many keep missing is that working men and women don’t see this in their lives. They feel the system is rigged against them. And those workers are white, black, Hispanic, Muslim — all races, creeds and colors. Economic and national security fears overcame all other factors when they walked into the voting booth.”

        Point the first: the title of this very post is “Swing State Exit Polls Show Hillary Won Economy Voters.’ To which your reply is to quote someone who thinks that’s not the case.

        Point the second (re-quoting):

        But what many keep missing is that working men and women don’t see this in their lives. They feel the system is rigged against them.

        This from a Michigan Rep… Michigan. The state where the REPUBLICAN Governor negligently POISONED an entire city. That’s what people did see in their lives.

        You, paulsimmons, are the chief proponent, here on this blog, of the ‘fuck you’ theory of voting, citing every supposed failing of the Clinton campaign — in execution, ‘arrogance,’ and a dozen other ways you’ve tried to lay out the case that everything Clinton did wrong redounded to Trumps advantage. Why, pray tell, doesn’t it work in the other direction? Democrats saved the auto industry and lowered gas prices. Republicans opposed the Democrats at every step and poisoned an entire city. But Clinton was ‘arrogant’ so… so fuck you Hillary, they voted Trump…

        I’m sure you’re going to reply with some convoluted explanation that further makes the claim that it Hillary’s fault. But, somehow, ‘fuck you’ Hillary for being arrogant is somehow more acceptable to you than ‘fuck you’ Hillary for being a woman when, in fact, neither one is all that rational.

        • BINGO ! PETR GOT IT RIGHT...

          by exposing the hypocrisy of the Trumpist ‘fuck you’ theory of voting.

          Fred Rich LaRiccia

        • I doesn't work because Democrats are absent on the ground

          …particularly in off-years.

          The Democrats were structurally absent when it and where mattered this year, for the simple reason that successful organizing doesn’t begin during a specific election cycle.

          Meanwhile. the Right has been filling these vacuums for more than forty years, and progressives tend to be totally clueless about their ability to alienate voters.

          Nothing “convoluted” about it. To paraphrase James Michael Curley: Progressives are invincible in peace; invisible in war. (Except, of course when they’re actively alienating voters.)

          FWIW, I am not and never have limited this criticism to the Clinton campaign. The same dynamic here in Massachusetts is how a totally passive-aggressive campaign worked for Charlie Baker in 2014.

          He let Martha Coakley’s campaign do his outreach for him.

          Re: The Trump victory.

          There is plenty of culpability, going back to Obama’s decision to sequentially abandon his grassroots field structure after his wins in 2008 and 20012. Furthermore the lack of any effort to rebuild legislative Party structures (post-Howard Dean) played a large part in this.

          In the absence of credible messengers (at this point criticizing Clinton media in isolation is the political equivalent of child abuse), it didn’t matter what her campaign said; at best, it didn’t stick.

          At worst it helped Trump.

          The current political environment is so toxic, so Darwinist, and so infantile that many people voted for Trump not despite but because he is a thug. That is what keeps me awake at night.

          We had “fuck you” literally with a vengeance.

          • Might I take pains to point out...

            The current political environment is so toxic, so Darwinist, and so infantile that many people voted for Trump not despite but because he is a thug. That is what keeps me awake at night.

            We had “fuck you” literally with a vengeance.

            .. that your arguments boils down to :

            Democrats are complicit in the toxicity of the environment from which they are absent.

            So… yeah…. convoluted.

            • Democrats are complicit

              That’s been the whole thing I’ve been saying on this blog for years.

              Voters don’t care about parties. Democrats think that voters will prefer them to Republicans because we care more. Voters hate both parties equally.

              Locally, we’re better liked because we dominate. But nationally, they hate us just as much as they hate them, maybe more so because we raise expectations.

              • Most voters are unenrolled and low information

                I think that’s another thing the bubble of this blog doesn’t register. Christopher and Tom are always very cute when they make the obvious point that Democrats have been fighting on these issues for years while Republicans oppose them, and that we ran a more qualified candidate. I don’t disagree-I never have!

                What I do disagree is the idea that these facts are self evident to the average uninformed voter in a swing state who ultimately picks the President, or to the voters in the 36 states where Democrats have no control of the Governorship or a chamber in the statehouse. We are at the lowest point of control since the 1920s at the state level and this problem has finally trickled up to the national level where we will be shut out of the House through 2020 and will continue to miss opportunities to take back the Senate.

                I think the problem really is getting the liberal voters who are concentrated in the cities to start campaigning in the suburbs and rural communities at the state level and meeting voters where they are. Forget going to Kansas to find out what’s the matter, go to Springfield or Leominster. Worcester County is quietly becoming a Republican friendly part of the state and we will begin losing our own Commonwealth soon enough, having already lost the country.

            • Precisely

              Because they were absent.

              • no

                Democrats were not absent. They got a majority of votes across the country.

                They are not complicit. They offered an alternative that was spurned.

                The toxicity is completely one sided. Hillary Clinton wants to give health care to children and make the world safer for women. Donald Trump wants to grab women by the genitals and spit out hate and bile to the rest.

                Your argument fails in just about every way imaginable. There is no logical relationship between anything about Democrats and pulling the lever for Donald Trump. Pearls before swine always get trampled underfoot. That doesn’t make them less the pearls and that doesn’t make the swine more than deplorable.

                • We're pearls?

                  I wish!

                  I’m not trying to trash the entire party, and I’m not trying to single out HRC. But we have deep, deep problems.

                  Take the issue of gun control: We mouth niceties, but we’ve done almost nothing.

                  • That's because gun control doesn't have an engaged single issue constituency

                    The NRA stickers say “I’m an NRA member and I VOTE”. And they do, and that’s the number 1 issue for many single issue voters out there. They win general elections and Republican primaries.

                    Even during my time as a field organizer for the UIP, we lost a ton of socially liberal and fiscally progressive people apparently looking for a pro-gun rights alternative to the Democrats. The #1 reason I got for people going back to unenrolled was because they were angry at our changes on gun control.

                    Now granted, we are talking about a few dozen people leaving a party of twenty thousand at it’s peak, but I was downright shocked to see so many single issue gun rights voters in this bluest of state. It’s why I actually think Healey’s gun play will be a liability in the general election, even here.

                    That doesn’t mean it isn’t the right thing to do, it just means that the gun control side has to step up its organizing game and lobbying efforts. Mike Bloomberg picking off a few conservative Democrats in intraparty primaries doesn’t really send a signal, and the Republicans who would be vulnerable on the question won or lost for other reasons this past cycle. Toomey backed background checks and Portman opposed them, both won because Trump carried their states. Ayotte and Kirk were also on opposite sides of background checks, and lost because Clinton carried their states.

                    In the short term it will continue to be a liability for Democrats. It may have hurt Jason Kander in MIssouri, and it will definitely hurt Heitkamp, Donnelly, and Manchin in the 2018 cycle, presuming they don’t take jobs in the Trump administration as rumored.

                    This is another issue where the long term trend lines favor the Democratic and progressive positions, but the short term politics will always favor the right until we change conditions on the ground.

                    • One hand behind our back

                      I almost asked how we get to making gun control as strongly single issue as gun rights, but then I realized I’m not sure I want to. There is inherently an unlevel playing field where the other side is always more passionate, more organized, more likely to vote, and more the default position, than we are. Not only is gun control hardly the only issue for which that is the case, but they have more solidly safe states than we do. My predictions that certainly this would not be the year notwithstanding, our blue wall got shattered in MI, PA, and WI at least by current counts. We always have to fight harder to hold what we have. When was the last time the GOP was threatened in the Plain States at the presidential level? We always seem to be looking over our shoulder while the GOP never second guesses itself. Why is that?

                  • ...

                    We’re pearls?(0+ / 0-) View voters

                    I wish!

                    I’m not trying to trash the entire party, and I’m not trying to single out HRC. But we have deep, deep problems.

                    I have never argued that we are perfect. I argue that, for all our imperfections, we have value and that our imperfections do not excuse a vote for Trump. There is, simply put, no rational chain of thinking between any problems in the Democratic party, no matter how ‘deep deep’ they are, and a vote for Donald Trump. None. Two plus two does not equal asparagus. It never has and it never will.

                    The swine trample the pearls underfoot because they have no notion of the value of the pearls. Yet you, and others, would upend that and say there must be something about the pearls that caused the swine to trample them underfoot. No. There isn’t. The trampling is not done after careful consideration of the value of the pearls. It is instinctual and, frankly, animalistic and has nothing to do with the pearls. They swine will, after all is said and done, also trample under foot the shit the produce. The swine make no distinction between things of value and shit. That’s the point.

                    Take the issue of gun control: We mouth niceties, but we’ve done almost nothing.

                    Yeah, but we got marijuana now, so it’s.. ah.. groovy… I guess.

                    • Maybe you should take the rest of the day off

                      You’re arguing that voters are “swine” and can’t make distinctions. I don’t think you really believe that.

                      What our problems come down to is not message, but action. We can say whatever we want, but we have to do better than Republicans.

                      American infrastructure has a lot of problems. We (might) be better at fixing it, but it doesn’t matter if we don’t get it done because the GOP blocked us, we’re sharing the blame.

                    • Mission, ahem, accomplished...

                      We can say whatever we want, but we have to do better than Republicans.

                      … in every conceivable way and in all categories existing, Hillary Clinton is objectively better than Donald Trump. Without being perfect Hillary Clinton is distinctly and discernibly more capable, compassionate, sober-minded, wiser, intelligent, experienced and tougher than Donald Trump. You can’t get much more stark of a contrast between two people. This is the pearl we presented to the electorate. Whether or no they can make these distinctions, they did not make those distinctions.

                      We have achieved the objective of being and doing better than Republicans. We were not rejected by voters because we’re not better. We were rejected by voters because they weren’t looking for better. That is the behavior of swine. Nothing about being even more better is going to make the voters start looking for better. irrationality is not rational gone awry, it is actively against rational. When are you going to understand that?

                    • Let me ask you a question

                      Why are you talking like a drunk in a bar in Vegas who just lost his house?

                      You want me to “understand” that the situation is hopeless?

                      Sorry I can’t do that. I hope I never do understand things that way.

                    • I'm not sure where you get 'hopeless'...

                      You want me to “understand” that the situation is hopeless?

                      … I never said that. I think the situation is dire. I do not think it is hopeless. If I did think it was hopeless, I might well go to Vegas and would likely not talk to anyone.

                      Regardless of all that, I’m trying to underline the fact that, rather than ‘hopeless’, it is completely pointless to try to affect change by changing anything about the Democrats. When somebody, be they ‘swine’ or otherwise, rejects something of value… that’s not a legitimate reason to say that thing has no value.

                      The answer isn’t in tinkering with Democrats image, messaging, polling, or whatever… the answer is to point blank confront the voters with what they did. They did a monstrous thing. Saying it wasn’t a monstrous thing is pointless. Saying they had good reason to do a monstrous thing is equally pointless, because they didn’t have a good reason. Saying that the imperfections of the Democrats not only excuses, but is the function that led to, a monstrous act is, simply, wrong.

                    • Good luck on that


                • Actually there is

                  There is no logical relationship between anything about Democrats and pulling the lever for Donald Trump.

                  Paul Simmons has countless more experience than either one of us in this area and has consistently linked his criticism of the Clinton campaign field operation to tangible data points that back up his claims. He has consistently discussed this relationship and warned against it before the election. What data do you have that backs up your claims?

          • Do Republicans have a ground game?

            I was always under the impression they were better at air wars, think tanks, and big money, while we were better at grassroots and personal contacts.

            • Yes but the run the "prevent defense"

              prevent voting, that is. Ha. Try the veal.

            • The Republicans in Pennsylvania and Ohio had a very good ground game

              As I mentioned in this comment, I visited them.

              I might add that the visits were by invitation by local Trump folk who were perfectly aware of my political allegiances, who just wanted to rub it in, given the almost total absence of Clinton field.

              No gripes on my part: That’s how the game is played when you have the ground sewn up.

              In the specific areas I checked, The Republicans have had better ground games for years.

              Christopher, the Democratic Party has largely divested from locally-embedded field operations, and this has been going on since the early Seventies. I’ve cited this book before, and it gives a pretty good overview of how and why it happened. Bear in mind that the book is more than twenty years old and (exclusive of Howard Dean’s tenure at the DNC) little has been done to address the concerns therein.

              Democrats actually tend towards overdependence on air wars. For example, Clinton outspent Trump two to one on media.

              On the other side, Republicans have been reverse-engineering old-style Democratic field for decades. The advantages of embedded field are (among other things):

              1.) Linked with downballot organizations as they are (in the case of Pennsylvania county commissioners and other local elected officials), there is no need for training; every election is a form of continuing eduation.

              2.) Being largely volunteer-based they are cost-effective and don’t show up on campaign finance reports.

              3.) Being local, these organizations hold the high ground, credibility-wise with their neighbors, as opposed to outside activists who at best are uninformed about local realities on the ground.

              • Correction, here are media expenses, as of October 28, by camdidate

                Clinton Media Expenses: $237.4 Million (53.3% of total campaign expenditures)

                Trump Media Expenses: $68.0 Million (27.4% of total campaign expenditures)

              • if you say...

                No gripes on my part: That’s how the game is played when you have the ground sewn up.

                In the specific areas I checked, The Republicans have had better ground games for years.

                … that’s the case, I’ll have no choice but to believe you because you were there.

                How do you reconcile that, however, with media reports that the entire Republican party was in disarray after the nomination of Trump? Particularly with Trumps repeated shake-ups of his campaign staff (remember Paul Manfort?) and Kelly Anne Conway basically getting the gig because, as I understand it, nobody else wanted it.

                There’s a disconnect between a healthy, vibrant, professional — and as you conclude successful — ground game in Pennsylvania and Ohio and the utter disarray from, first, a 19 candidate primary and the ginger stepping done before, during and after the nomination… (Scott Baio? Really? Mostly Trump children because nobody else wanted to speak…? Melania plagiarizing Michelle…? What, they couldn’t get a decent speechwriter? ) into August and September with plummeting poll numbers and national Republicans waffling on endorsements.. At least, that’s what we heard. Then the candidate tanking in the debates and being asked point blank if he’d concede easily… And his response was to double-down on the pre-emptive accusations of vote rigging… Likely because he was mentally preparing himself for a loss. Now we’re hearing from you that all that was just so much stuff — and maybe it was — but I’m having difficulty aligning the September and November I lived through with what you’re saying…

                • There is an old military intelligence joke about the CIA

                  “They never leave the cities where the good bars are.”

                  This especially applies to modern media. People were trying to analyze Trump field, based upon what consultants were telling them, and based upon campaign finance reports. Neither the media, nor the consultants did any in-depth reporting from the ground; and the latter refused to accept any warnings from those people who lived there.

                  There was also the issue of Clinton people lecturing locals about the dynamics within those locals’ back yards, but let that lie…

                  Just to lower the heat a bit, one can look at Boston twenty years ago to cite an example of misunderstanding the obvious. Thomas Menino was anything but an accidental Mayor, having built a comprehensive twenty-two ward conditional field organization in early 1991. (“If Ray Flynn doesn’t run, will you support me?”)

                  The premise at the time was that Flynn would run for Governor against Bill Weld in 1994. As things turned out, Clinton won in 1992, Ray went to the Vatican, and Menino (who successfully maneuvered to be elected City Council President) became acting-Mayor, then elected in his own right.

                  All this plain sight work notwithstanding, the media consensus was and remained that Tom Menino was “the Accidental Mayor”.

                  Consider this a useful parallel…

                  • A better field analysis would have been to check the overlap

                    of potential Trump support wiith areas with Republican (or Right-Democratic) elected officials, particularly the County Commissioners, Legislators, and Mayors.

                    And the personal came into it (as it always does in this business).

                    A not inconsiderable amount of Trump’s operations were conducted by organized Democrats who came over to Trump en masse after the Democratic Primary, in many instances because they were snubbed by the Clinton campaign.

                    • Really?

                      Democrats of the organized variety, presumably among the more partisan if they are organized, came over to Trump because local Clinton people hurt their feelings? I just continue to shake my head!

                    • Tell that to the Democratic leadership in the MA Legislature

                      Baker’s current 9C budget cuts notwithstanding, the era of good feelings still holds on Beacon Hill.

                    • Now we're getting somewhere...

                      A not inconsiderable amount of Trump’s operations were conducted by organized Democrats who came over to Trump en masse after the Democratic Primary, in many instances because they were snubbed by the Clinton campaign.

                      I believe that you were told this. I believe that you believe it. I even believe that the Clinton people were arrogant and indeed actively snubbed them.

                      I don’t believe that it adequately explains the move towards Trump any more than I believe a rational response to being told to ‘eat your vegetables’ is to develop a habit of snorting cocaine.

                      If the Democratic operatives on behalf of Hillary Clinton were arrogant (and, again, I find that entirely plausible) it was an arrogance about how to run a Democratic campaign… In no instance does the response of ‘fine, I’ll go run a Republican campaign’ do anything other than validate the underlying assumption.

                      So the competing and contradictiry excuses of Democratic perfidy and incompetence are revealed for what it is… a cover story… and the need for a cover story is likely because the truth is unpalatable, and probably unpalatable to them most of all. Cognitive dissonance 101.

                      This doesn’t explain, however, why you buy into the cover story… I don’t believe for a second that you agree with any of the possible underlying motives… I think you’re unwilling to ask yourself if politics itself, a field in which you are heavily invested, has failed. Nor do I think it reflects at all poorly on you that you are so unwilling (and you’re not alone on this blog in this dilemna) since the possible scope of the answers is enormous and your investment in the field stems, it seems, from a true decency. But the question answers itself: so long as there are decent people in politics, it cannot fail.

  3. But immigration is tied to the jobs, at least that was what was believed

    They Took Our Jobs!

    • Immigration is also both/and

      I encountered a lot of comfortably retired white voters in Chelsea who were angrier that “their” city got taken over by “them”. They were bigots plain and simple, without any real economic anxieties but invented cultural ones. It was really depressing when I was canvassing with a Salvadoran American who’s a protected refugee and have a 50 year old German American, herself a refugee from the Shoah, lecture us both on why the refugees Obama’s letting in are horrible and that it’s bad enough “all the stores and signs are in Spanish now-I had to learn English when I came here”.

      I think frankly Tom and Pete do a disservice to the future of the party when they argue racism is exclusively the rationale for the Trump victory and you dons dissinilsr service when you argue it’s just about the economy.

      There is a Venn diagram folks of racial and economic anxiety that overlaps, and we can only win back some of the voters in the economic anxiety circle. The racists are totally lost and the folks in between require very difficult conversations. It’s taken me over ten years of dialogue and the spectre of being aligned with Trump on an issue to move my father into the pro-amnesty camp. But canvassers don’t have ten years and an intimate connection to make that argument.

  4. And I think it's time to start looking inward, not outward.

    Instead of asking why “those people” did what they did and cost us the election, we ought to be wondering what was so unappealing about us and ask those people what they are looking for…and be prepared to make changes.

    • head scratch...

      Instead of asking why “those people” did what they did and cost us the election, we ought to be wondering what was so unappealing about us and ask those people what they are looking for…and be prepared to make changes.

      Those people told lies about Hillary Clinton. (just like they told lies about Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama.) They told lies about immigrants. They told lies about Muslims. They told lies about what Donald Trump could and would do. They willfully accepted a foreign sovereignty hacking emails. Their candidate was caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women (shortly after having married his third wife).

      Your answer to all that is for Democrats to put on sackcloth and ashes, while crying, “penitenziagite!!”

      Hillary Clinton said ‘vegetables are good for you. You have to eat your vegetables’ and Donald Trump lied about her and proffered a piece of shit on stick wrapped in a lollipop wrapper. They went for the lollipop wrapper even knowing pretty surely that it was but a piece of shit on a stick. Now you would pretend it’s not a piece of shit on a stick and that the problem is that there really is something nefarious both about vegetables and the people who push them.

      • I'm talking about the voters

        not the political campaigns of either candidate.

        I read headlines proclaiming that Millennial Voters May Cost Hillary Clinton the Election

        If we’re not blaming millennials, we’re blaming (as just did) gullible voters who are not smart enough to know what’s good for them.

        We can’t win another election if we keep blaming the voters.

        • as am I...

          I’m talking about the voters(0+ / 0-) View voters

          not the political campaigns of either candidate.

          .. and enough people voted for a breathtakingly mendacious campaign and campaigner. What part of that are you having difficulty grasping?

          It’s not like the media didn’t kick it into gear and tell it like it is… but when nearly the entirety of the printed media declines to endorse a candidate, particularly pointing out the mendacity and hollowness, it’s difficult to blame the media.

          We can’t win another election if we keep blaming the voters.

          If they did something blameworthy, then they are going to get the blame. It’s called ‘Democracy.” Anything else is less than reality and more deference than is deserved.

          • Why did people vote for a breathtakingly mendacious campaign and campaigner

            What part of that are you having difficulty grasping?

            The “Why” is what I am having difficulty grasping.

            • You have to ask them...

              Why did people vote for a breathtakingly mendacious campaign and campaigner

              … rather than doing that, however, you want US to ‘look inward’ and ‘be prepared to make changes.’

              There’s a hard conversation ahead. The conservative party, supposedly the party of family values and Jesus, ran a lying, racist, thrice married admitted adulterer/sexual predator and slightly less than half the voters checked the box for him. The conversation isn’t about what we should be doing different but about what they did and why. We shouldn’t dance around the issue: we should ask why they voted for a lying, racist, thrice married admitted adulterer/sexual predator… and ask why again when they give us a deliberately bullshit answer.

              • I did ask them

                They did not like Clinton and they are tired of status quo candidates.
                The liberal party, supposedly the party of labor, ran a lying, corporatist….

                • Hillary Clinton a lying corporatist?

                  You have a propensity for taking the criticism too far and into ridiculous areas. I think we can accurately criticize the Democratic Party for failing working class voters in cogent ways without making Hillary Clinton into something she wasn’t.

                  She ran as a liberal and adopted nearly every major agenda if the Sanders campaign, her issue wasn’t which policies she supported but which priorities her campaign choose to emphasize and what kind of story they told her to tell. I was proud to vote for her and would still argue she would’ve been a great President. What I won’t do is pretend she ran a good campaign, blame the voters for the bad campaign, or argue repeating the bad campaign will lead to a different result.

                  You play right into your critics hands when you take it too far and post nonsense like this. It makes it much easier for folks to dismiss the points that ring true.

                  • Hillary Clinton a lying corporatist?

                    That was my reply to petr’s hyperbolic comments….When in Rome…

                    I asked him, and will keep asking him and others, why did normal, non-racist, non “basket of deplorable” people turn out for Trump.

                    He replied with “sexual predator…..” and so on.

                    • Trump is a proven sexual predator

                      That’s not hyperbole. You’d have to prove where Clinton is a liar or a corporatist. Frankly what was so shocking about the Goldman transcripts is how close they were to her stated public policy positions.

                    • Where is your proof

                      That Trump is a “sexual predator”? And I doubt it would take me too long to find contradictory statements from Clinton (those are lies, eh?) and here connection to Goldman Sach and Clinton neoliberalsim cannot be ignored as anything less than corporatism.

                • BULL PUCKEY, JOHNTMAY ...

                  You finger pointing, Monday morning quarterbacking, ‘ holier than thou ‘ ideological purists make me sick.

                  Your pontificating proves to me that George Bernard Shaw was right when he said : ” Democracy is the thing that ensures we get no better that we deserve.”

                  Or as Forrest Gump’s Mama used to say : ” Stupid is as stupid does.”

                  And anyone who voted for that lying, serial sexual predator, racist should be ashamed of themselves. Shame on you all !

                  Fred Rich LaRiccia

                  • To wit

                    I don’t think anyone here voted for Trump. I think shaming swing voters who swing for Trump is a poor way of trying to convince them to back progressive candidates down the road. That’s about the most consistent thing I’ve been arguing: figuring out “why” did they vote that way with answers more empirically based than assuming they all have to be stupid or racist. That’s it.

                    My major disagreement with Tom, Petr, Christopher and perhaps yourself is that I don’t think conducting this project attacks the integrity of our last nominee or somehow is an endorsement of her opponents ideology or methodology. It most certainly isn’t. My major disagreement with John is that anytime we get anywhere with this project he does engage in attacks on our last nominees integrity using very similar methodology to her opponent. It’s like an endless Thanksgiving argument where everyone actually agrees on policy but disagrees in tactics.

                    It’s a constructive argument within the family that will allow us to be on the same page going forward. Soul searching and introspection are exactly what the left should be doing now, so long as we apply those techniques to better opposing the efforts of the President-elect to attack the social compact on both the economic and social equality fronts.

                  • Um, I talked this way before Monday morning

                    and all you experts told me I was wrong, that Hillary was THE most qualified and a BRILLIANT politician…..despite my questioning of those remarks.

                    45% of the voters in my town voted for Trump. Are you saying that 45% of the people in my town support rape, racism, and dishonesty?

                    Please think for a moment before replying.

                    • WERE ALL HITLER - VOTING GERMANS NAZIS ?

                      So I’ll answer your sophistry with a question. Whether ALL Trump voters are racists or support racism misses the point. The fact is they empowered a proven liar ( 560 documented lies ), serial sexual predator and racist who aids and abets white, neo-Nazi separatists.

                      Fred Rich LaRiccia

                    • Technically, yes

                      Hitler was elected to the German parliament first, not a majority of the people. So most of his voters were Nazis.

                    • So then...

                      …if was a thee act play….

                      Act One: A progressive and inclusive electorate embraces the nation’s first Black President!

                      Act Two: That same electorate has no second thoughts and re-elects the nation’s first Black President for a second term!

                      Act Three: For reasons not understood, the electorate becomes militantly racist and votes for a wealthy white guy instead of a wealthy white women.

                      Lower curtain, turn up the house lights and watch as the audience tries to figure out why the electorate made such a dramatic shift, from embracing a black president to all out racists….

                    • JOHN STEWART EXPLAINS IT BEST...

                      ” Trump didn’t happen because CNN sucks. CNN just sucks. He happened because that’s the push and pull of this nation at all times. It’s a push and pull between nativism and a more inclusive multi – cultural approach. It’s a country that writes in its founding document all men are created equal but only white men who own property can vote. That’s the earliest contradiction and we’ve been fighting that battle ever since.”

                      Fred Rich LaRiccia

                    • Campaigning might not be her forte...

                      …but I look for a President and not a candidate, so yes, Clinton remains the most qualified and best prepared person to seek the presidency in some time and definitely of all those running this year. It seems to me that 45% of your town are too tolerant of those things, yes.

                    • Amelia Earhart

                      Was a qualified pilot, but navigation was not her forte…..

                    • Nice try

                      Being able to navigate is sine qua non to being a good pilot, whereas campaigning and governing are very different skill sets. It is the curse of democracy that the former is a means to the latter, and a key reason why it is “the worst form of government, except for all the others which have been tried from time to time.”

                  • I assume you voted for Bill Clinton, twice

                    Are you proud of his treatment of women?

                    Would you want him to treat the women in your life in the same way?

                    Think about that before you reply.

                    My hunch is that you dismissed it, marginalized it, rationalized it, just as Trump supporters did with him recently.

                    I can’t condemn either of you. I get it.

                    • Just a word of advice

                      I know and agree with your criticisms that the Democratic Party needs to move hard and boldly to the economic left to stay electorally relevant. I strongly agree with that. Can’t you make that argument without making right wing attacks against the Clinton’s dredged from the likes of Drudge?

                      Tom Frank, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Robert Reich and even Barack Obama had harsh criticisms of Hillary Clinton on policy grounds. Stick to policy, this personal stuff undercuts your arguments and gives your critics all the fodder they need to dismiss you.

                    • Druge

                      Gimme a break. I bring up Bill Clinton’s well reported boorish behavior with women and you smear me with “Drudge”?

                      And remember the context. I am replying to a self righteous Clinton supporter who called 45% of my town racist and sexist.

                      I will not stand for that.

                    • Clinton's involvement with women...

                      …range from unproven to none of our business, and mostly hyped up by the VWRC. Trump, OTOH did just fine on his own without the help of his political enemies. Clinton also genuinely supported issues women care about and I’m pretty sure has never fantasized about dating Chelsea or wondered as an infant how she would “develop”.

                    • The cognitive dissonance

                      is strong in you.

      • They'll always tell lies

        And good campaigns and candidates find a way to cut through the narrative the GOP sets up with a compelling narrative of their own, while bad campaigns allow that narrative to go unanswered and define them.

        Hillary was running for a third Obama term and should’ve run on that record of saving Midwestern jobs through the GM bailout, providing healthcare for more people through the ACA, and creating one million factory jobs right here in the US. I doubt Biden would’ve hesitated to do that (Osama Dead/GM Alive there’s a Bumper sticker for you and Tom-and it worked).

        Instead she ran the same lame Jeb campaign that “our children are watching” and Trump is a morally bad person. People already knew this and were willing to vote for him anyway since they bought his bullshit on trade and draining be swamp. Nowhere have I ever argued that this bullshit is legitimate or that Clinton wouldn’t have been better on these two issues, she would’ve been.

        But she didn’t make an emotionally compelling case to vote for her. It was just mudslinging against Trump, which he deftly avoided by mudslinging against her and manipulating the media to help draw false equivalencies.

        Did the Democrats spend 1973 blaming the 49 states that voted for an unethical racist war monger or did they find a way to regain Congress in 1974 and then the presidency in 1976 by running someone different? This really isn’t as hard or impossible as you and Tom are making it out to be. Our candidate lost and discovering “why?” requires us to understand the voters that choose her over her opponent in the swing states she lost.

        The Klan enthusiasts voting for Trump in the South would’ve voted Republican anyway, as they have since 1964. Why the suburban Pennsylvania moderate Republicans stuck with Trumo while the Midwesterb union members who voted for Obama twice who defected to Trump are more interesting and yes disturbing questions. Why did they still vote for him? We are only beginning to understand why and I’m open to the possibility my assumptions are wrong, maybe David’s link is right and the economic answer isn’t accurate. But begging to ask the question in the first place does not make as any less committed to the progressive cause, if anything, we are the ones trying to learn and avoid repeating our mistakes going forward.

        • In three phrases...

          Obama : Hope and Change!
          Trump: Make America Great Again!
          Clinton: I’m with Her!

          Really?…….”I’m with her”?

          • "Stronger Together"...

            …is the closer equivalent of the other two. “I’m With Her” was just a cheer to push back on the alleged enthusiasm gap.

            • Disagree

              I’m With Her was the core message. Stronger Together was a tagline that did not reflect the main push of the campaign (which, in the last 6 weeks turned into 100% “Trump is the worst”). The “most qualified candidate to ever run” was the main pitch of the Clinton campaign.

          • How about...

            “She’s with you.” If you think back to ’08, Sen. Clinton was the favorite. She couldn’t get it done. I’ve heard many times “well, that’s because she was running against a great candidate.” Exactly. In ’16, she almost lost to a Democratic-Socialist from VT. And, people say, “he had a message that resonated with voters.” Right, again. Ultimately, she loses the presidency to the least popular candidate imaginable. her resume is great, and she may well have been a great president. But, she’s not a good enough candidate, and she’s always had difficulty framing, articulating a sticking to a message that resonates with voters. That’s why she’s not president.


              and defeat is an orphan.” PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY

              Fred Rich LaRiccia

              • No doubt... Fred... No Doubt

                But, quite some time ago, some of us did say that the Democratic field was weak, and that she wasn’t a great candidate. We really didn’t have good choices in the primary and we nominated someone who isn’t a strong candidate, because of her resume and “it’s her time.” So, it isn’t all hind sight and second guessing, and I do think—through the pain—that there are a lot of lessons to be learned here, even if we cannot all agree on what should be learned, at the moment.

            • why isn't that enough?

              Ultimately, she loses the presidency to the least popular candidate imaginable. her resume is great, and she may well have been a great president.

              What part of “may well have been a great president” needs embellishing? What gets added unto that to make the sale where it couldn’t be made before?

              It’s not rational. It is, in fact, a clear admission that the decision gets made on terms that are irrational. We can argue that the irrationality was mechanistic, racist, sexist, perceptive or just stone stupidity, but it’s all irrationality.

              But, she’s not a good enough candidate, and she’s always had difficulty framing, articulating a sticking to a message that resonates with voters.

              Another way of putting this is to say that what resonates with voters is divorced from what’s necessary to get the job done. Otherwise, you’re as much as saying: all Secretary Clinton needed to do was to bash a few Muslims and promise to build a bigger wall and she’d be President-elect now. That couldn’t possibly be true, because then she’d be a ‘flip-flopper.’

              ‘Don’t throw your pearls before swine’ is a saying that upholds the values of pearls and underlines the inability of swine to experience that value… it’s not a celebration of the swine and it’s certainly no excuse to abjure pearls altogether.

              • Maybe it should be....

                But it isn’t. You have to actually run for the job and win. The best way to do that is to have a clear, compelling, understandable message delivered by an effective candidate. Her credentials may be unmatched but she couldn’t get past the primary in ’08 and lost in ’16. Why? I supposed we can blame millennials, African-Americans, Bernie Sanders and his supporters, the media, James Comey, etc. But, at the end of the day, she was running against a carnival barker with negatives in the 60s or 70s, and she lost. I’ve been saying for well-over a year that I was concerned that she wasn’t a good enough candidate, and the Democratic field was too weak to serve us well.

        • So why is it...

          …that Republicans could probably have gotten away with it had the roles been reversed? Part of why I’m a Dem is because I appreciate that we run on issues while they sling mud, but this time the negative ads wrote themselves. While she did some of that, which I advocated, she DID also say plenty of positive things as well. In fact I saw mostly positive ads.

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