Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Bonus Clinton Campaign Post-Mortem: the Politico article and the lack of a ground game

There was a really interesting article in Politico today:

How Clinton lost Michigan — and blew the election: Across battlegrounds, Democrats blame HQ’s stubborn commitment to a one-size-fits-all strategy.

After reading it I sent it along to a few friends who I thought would be interested. That email turned into a bit of a rant. Normally I wouldn't just post up an email rant here, but I thought it made a bit of a useful companion piece to my earlier Clinton campaign post-mortem. (Clinton 2016: A Fundamentally Flawed Campaign)

One thing is becoming clear as we enter the Trumpocalypse. I may need to change my online handle from the relaxed Patioboater to Ranty McRantface.


Subject: Back to everybody's favorite topic: Clinton was a terrible campaigner....
Time: 11:24 am EST

Also on the bloviation front, there was a good article in Politico today on the Clinton campaign's much vaunted ground game, which turned out to be a lack of a genuine ground game, especially in Michigan:

This article matches up well with a lot of little things that I saw during the campaign. I had my hands full being treasurer of a state rep campaign, so this is the first year I wasn't really all that involved in the canvassing side of things.

The Obama campaign in 2008 and 2012 had prominent campaign office locations in strip malls. Those offices were fully staffed, bustling with volunteers, and the place to go for lawn signs, campaign lit, etc. I am an elected official, a Democratic precinct delegate, was treasurer of a Democratic state rep campaign, and have often served as a board member of our local and county Democratic Party organizations. But I literally had to do ten minutes of research to find the nearby Clinton campaign office, which was unmarked and located in an office complex. 

After the "grab 'em" video emerged my wife and mother-in-law very much wanted to put out lawn signs to counter the ocean of Trump signs in our neighborhood. So I said sure, no problem. But when I stopped by the Clinton office to get a lawn sign they would only give me one, and said the signs were being reserved for Clinton campaign volunteers. I had to come back again on another day to get somebody else to hand over another one. Hell, I probably would've ponied up five bucks for a sign, but it was one-per-person, no exceptions.

In 2008 and 2012 the coordinated campaign worked through the Obama campaign pretty much all year. Most of the coordinated canvassing we did on the state rep campaign this year was coordinated with our Congressional candidate because there wasn't a visible, organized Clinton door-to-door effort. 

I had the sense that something was amiss as we went down the stretch, but I dismissed it quite a bit based on the fact that I wasn't on the doors this time around -- I was doing the treasurer gig -- and that our area is very much a sweet spot for Trump. But things were indeed amiss. I had assumed that my sense that I felt that I wasn't seeing the Clinton ground game in Michigan was because I wasn't involved in that part of the campaign. But ... turns out that I wasn't seeing it BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T PLAN TO HAVE A GROUND GAME IN MICHIGAN!

Hindsight is always 20-20, and losing campaigns have a hundred fingers to point. But not planning to engage in retail politics in the state that is literally at the core of your electoral college plan is simply dumb campaigning. Michigan was never further than two or three states away from the "tipping point" of the Electoral College in's analysis all year long. And they took it for granted.

They got their asses handed to them in Michigan in February by Bernie despite what their big data was telling them, then they turned around and relied on their big data over retail data for the big show in November. They literally weren't entering their door-to-door responses back into their campaign and canvassing database. It's unfathomably stupid. 

I love data-driven campaigning more than most. But the absolute best possible use of data is to put people on the doors that matter. Clinton got her ass handed to her by Obama in 2008 because she didn't understand that. She nearly lost the 2016 primary to an elderly socialist Jew from Vermont because she didn't understand that. And now she has plunged us into what are likely to be four extremely dark years in our history because she didn't understand that.

This isn't complicated stuff. This is basic campaigning. These are training wheel decisions. You win elections by showing up and asking people for their vote.

How do you lose to the worst candidate in United States history? By running one of the worst campaigns in United States history.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.


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