Hillary Clinton and her campaign were out of touch with voters and reality

Michael Barone:
The Hillary Clinton campaign was worse than you — or I — thought. That's the message of Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes' Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign. Doomed in retrospect, mind you; not many of us — including me — thought it was doomed at the time.

Here are a couple of passages that struck me as astonishing.

1. "Hillary was already" — in spring 2015 — "inaccessible to most of her own staff, preferring to communicate through [Huma] Abedin." And Huma wasn't very accessible to anyone else. This led to screw-ups. In May 2015, communications director Jennifer Palmieri asked Abedin which TV interviewer Clinton would prefer for her first post-emails-revelation interview. Abedin said, "Brianna," and so the interview was set up with CNN's Brianna Keilar, who delivered a tough interviewer. "Only it turned out that Hillary had said 'Bianna'—as in Bianna Golodryga of Yahoo! News, the wife of former Clinton administration economic aide [and Obama OMB Director] Peter Orszag." Oops!

2. Hillary and Bill Clinton didn't think her email system was a political problem. "Her inability to just do a national interview and communicate genuine feelings of remorse and regret is now, I fear, becoming a character problem (more so than honesty)," the authors quote Center for American Progress head Neera Tanden as saying. Here and elsewhere Tanden appears a source of good judgment, and one who, like Cassandra, is usually disregarded.

3. The Clintons' misjudgment of the emails was shared by some on her staff. "The day after the Times story popped online, [Jennifer] Palmieri and [Dan] Schwerin floated the idea of inserting a joke about the emails into an upcoming speech to the abortion rights group EMILY's List." Unfortunately, the authors don't provide an example of the jokes the staffers had in mind, reporting merely that experienced staffer Mandy Grunwald shot down the idea.

4. "When Hillary had been advised by some allies not to speak to banks before the campaign, one confidant said, her response had been "They'll hit us on something." Apparently the woman who deducted as charitable contributions each piece of underwear donated to Goodwill was unwilling to give up the $225,000 per speech Goldman Sachs was prepared to pay — even when her net worth and her husband's were already above $100,000,000.
There is more.

I think item three may have been the root of one her bad performance that was sometimes called the "orange is the new black" press availability where she was asked about having her server wiped of a significant number of emails and she responded, "You mean with a cloth?"

Barone also notes that the Clinton campaign did no polling in the last three weeks before the election.  Not since Harry Truman upset Thomas Dewey had campaigns gone so silent on polling in the weeks prior to the election.  In both cases, there was an upset winner.  It is not clear whether polling would have made a difference since most of the media polls during that same period also got it wrong.


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