Clinton lost the Obama coalition (and they should have seen it coming)

FiveThirtyEight’s analysis of the 2016 electorate shows that Hillary Clinton’s loss was indeed due to low voter turnout. Apparently, high numbers of Democrats and Independents (and even a good number of Republicans) didn’t feel it necessary to go out and make a choice between two horrible candidates.

Who could have predicted such a thing? Turns out, it was easy to spot as far back as June 2015. As (obviously) any dolt could see, Clinton’s strong numbers against a fractured Republican field belied real issues among key demographics. And the issue wouldn’t be losing votes to the eventual Republican nominee, but in losing raw voters period. Polling can offer people a chance to see preferences, but judging intensity of preference requires a deeper reading of the numbers.

Clinton’s people should have seen this. (If they did, they figured to correct it by scaring the bejesus out of people by telling them how bad Trump was. That strategy typically invites failure.)

On its face, FiveThirtyEight’s analysis gives Clinton supporters some cover: They can claim that if the turnout had only been higher, their team would have won. (If only it hadn’t been for James Comey/the Russians/fake news/okay maybe Comey again?) But such face-saving leaves unanswered questions about why turnout was so low. Refusing to vote is a vote, as well. People think of political campaigns as an effort to get a voter to choose candidate A over candidate B, but in reality the first challenge is getting voters to make the choice at all.

Does Clinton run anything by anyone?

The other morning, news outlets carried the clip of Hillary Clinton doing her impression of a lie-detecting dog, barking from a stage in Reno.

This is the predictable result:

This is an obvious response. So glaringly obvious, it’s incredible that Clinton ran her little Lassie impression by any one of the people she pays to help her seem more relatable. If she had, surely that person would have told her to skip the canine theatrics.

One can only imagine the poor, cringing communications staffers, watching from backstage, as Clinton diverged from the script and ventured into animal kingdom. It shows not only a lack of discipline, but a lack of self-awareness. It’s why Clinton is losing her grip on the Democratic nomination (again) and why she shouldn’t beat any Republican who isn’t named Trump in November.

Hillary ALMOST nails the anti-Trump message

Donald Trump had barely finished his call for a ban on Muslim travel to the U.S. when Clinton and Co. fired back. Naturally, because it’s Hillary Clinton, it came through a fundraising email pimping her new “Love trumps hate” bumper sticker over Huma Abedin’s signature. And in equally typical Hillary Clinton fashion, her message was almost off.

It started off promisingly enough:

Last night, when I heard Donald Trump’s hateful comments about banning Muslims like me from entering the United States, I was shocked, offended and angry. But after I saw the flood of responses from this team — and across the country — saying that Trump’s comments were absolutely unacceptable, I was overwhelmed with a different emotion:


That’s actually a pretty cool, positive response. Not only does it make the point that Trump was wrong, it changes the “hero” in the story. When Candidate A condemns Candidate B, A is trying to look like the hero sticking up for the little guy. Such self-aggrandizing rhetoric can ring hollow.

By referencing the public response, Abedin and Team Clinton share the spotlight with the person reading the email – and who doesn’t like getting a little shine, right?

It also marginalizes Trump, disconnecting his inflammatory rhetoric from the rank-and-file voters. For a candidate who referred to political opponents as her enemies, this is an important distinction. But the next paragraph blows up that concept:

Let’s show Donald Trump and his supporters that we won’t be torn apart by his hateful rhetoric.

It’s bad politics to blame Trump “supporters” for the ills of America, no matter which party you’re in. Its logical end is a misstep like Mitt Romney’s “47%” comments – essentially giving voice to the campaign’s plan to divide the electorate and work on getting their own supporters out to the polls. That may reflect a strategic reality, but it doesn’t mean a campaign has to say it publicly.

Crummy Little Podcast Episode 2: Beverly Hallberg

District Media Group Founder and President Beverly Hallberg is one of the savviest media professionals in Washington, D.C., and she did a great job previewing the upcoming Republican debate on this week’s Crummy Little Podcast. She also talks about why Hillary Clinton isn’t connecting with voters (and why Bernie Sanders is). There’s even some baseball talk at the end.

Download the podcast here or check it out on iTunes.

Hillary Clinton’s razor-thin 38-point polling advantage

That’s Hillary Clinton’s average lead among non-white voters over various Republican candidates in the head-to-head questions from the CNN/ORC poll released on Tuesday. But the 64-68% support range she hovers might not be enough. As discussed in this week’s post on Communities Digital News, Clinton is lagging behind President Obama’s 82%-16% edge among non-white voters during his re-election.

All the headlines yapped about the Republican field closing the gap on Clinton. That’s important psychologically, but we all knew the race would tighten. This a much bigger potential problem for Clinton.

The difference between where Clinton sits and Obama’s 2012 performance translates into Mitt Romney carrying Florida, Virginia, and Ohio – with a real shot at picking up either Nevada or Colorado for an Electoral College majority. Again, this doesn’t anticipate any minority votes moving from the blue column to the red column; those are only lost votes.

That’s a real big problem for Clinton, who will surely try to exploit police/community relations as a wedge issue.

Maybe Clinton still gets by with a little help from her friends. The NAACP will surely try to literally scare up black voters with images of Freddie Gray and Michael Brown. The arbotion industry will try to do the same with women. Plus, there’s always fraud.

But the point is that she has to do something, because she isn’t inheriting the Obama coalition – at least, not in the numbers she needs.

These cupcakes, they taste a little… a little… ACK!

CGYjaYiVIAIZCr5Hillary knelt down, staring at the pastry for several minutes before she spoke . “These,” she finally said, her voice barely above a whisper, “will do nicely.”

“It’s become so easy,” she continued, standing and smoothing her suit jacket under her anxious palms. “For all the money that goes into these campaigns, this is the blind spot. There are dozens of people who tell you how to shoot your next commercial, so many who will gladly go door to door. But no one hires food tasters any more.”

Hillary turned to the aide, her eyes wide and her smile broad. “And arsenic is so very, very cheap when you know the right baker.”

“Send a dozen to O’Malley. Include a card: ‘Welcome to the race. I know you’ll see it through to the end.'” Hillary turned to leave.

The aide paused the furious scribbling in her notebook. “O-O’Malley?” she stammered. “But he’s so far behind…”

Hillary wheeled, her smile melted away and her eyes burning with fury. In an instant her face was an inch away from the whimpering aide’s.

“It’s not about O’Malley, dammit, it’s about sending a message!” Hillary growled. Then, as soon as it started, the storm subsided and her face relapsed into its familiar, painted smile. Calmly, Hillary turned to leave as she gave a final order.

“Oh, and don’t forget to sign the card: ‘Love, H.'”

Something Hillary got right

It’s been a fun week to make fun of Hillary Clinton, but she knocked one aspect of her video announcement clean out of the park. As I discussed in my latest Communities Digital News post, Clinton only appears onscreen in her own video for fifteen seconds out of 2:15, and in that time she is either addressing the camera or talking with voters.

Except, she isn’t talking to the voters. In every shot, they are talking to her.

Many political ads and videos have a shot of the candidate meeting with supporters. Usually, in those shots the candidate is dispensing wisdom to a small group of supporters. Check out the very first shot from this ad from Terry McAuliffe’s successful 2013 Virginia gubernatorial campaign:

Candidates must do this to show that their leadership. (Though every time I see this type of shot, the audience looks like they are waiting for the candidate to pause so they can break out of the conversation.) But everything her week-old campaign has done so far has made it obvious Clinton is bending over backward to give the impression that she isn’t full of herself.  So in her video, she listens – sometimes with crazy eyes, but she listens.

Surely, Republican candidates expect to be vilified by Democratically aligned special interest groups in the upcoming cycle. For conservative candidates looking to prove their empathetic chops, subtle visual cues like this can go a long way.

Announcing the start of a campaign and/or murder spree


“Death, it comes to us all,” Hillary explained, resting her coffee cup on the table. “For all our advances in medicine and health care, life has a 100% mortality rate. It’s the only thing that really binds the haves and have-nots, you know? The deck may be stacked for the rich, and the system may be rigged so the rich get richer, but no one escapes the end.”

Hillary leaned in, her eyes still wide and unblinking. “We are all equal in death.”

She paused to let it sink in, the smile was still painted across her face.

“After I finish this coffee, I’m getting into my van. I’m going to travel from one end of this country to the other, bringing true equality to the nation. There will be plenty of people out there who want to stop me, small minded people who don’t understand what we’re accomplishing. But one day, history will look back on this trail of death we are forging at appreciate the revolution.”

Hillary took another sip of her coffee. “You’re wondering why I’m telling you all this.”

She leaned in closer, her voice lowering to a throaty, raspy whisper.

“It starts with you.”