Hillary Clinton did not run a terrible campaign

I’ve been seeing this idea in a number of threads lately. People seem to take it as a given that Hillary Clinton ran a terrible campaign. The only question seems to be if she ran the worst campaign in the last century or the worst campaign in all of American history.

It’s nonsense. Yes, Hillary Clinton lost and Donald Trump won. I’m not disputing the outcome of the election.

Hillary Clinton won the majority of votes. That wasn’t enough to win the election but it’s not nothing. Al Gore won the majority of votes in 2000 and plenty of people some him as the default front-runner for 2004. Which isn’t surprising; Andrew Jackson and Grover Cleveland both lost an election with a majority of votes and then came back to win the next election. And then there’s Samuel Tilden who got the majority of votes in 1876 but lost the election. His response was “I can retire to private life with the consciousness that I shall receive from posterity the credit of having been elected to the highest position in the gift of the people, without any of the cares and responsibilities of the office.”

So why do so many people seem to feel it’s important to argue that not only did Hillary Clinton lose the election but that she lost it badly?

  1. I agree, Hillary didn’t run a “bad” campaign; she ran a textbook, albeit lackluster, campaign. Her campaign was the equivalent of the offensive coordinator who runs the ball on first and second down, then throws it on third down, always punts on fourth down, etc. Methodical and by the book.

The problem was that it was the wrong approach to this election. This election was a “change” election. People were sick and tired of being sick and tired, and wanted a candidate who’d smash the “normal, usual” way of things in Washington. Trump tapped into that rage. Hillary, on the other hand, was Dolores Umbridge, the target for that sort of rage. She was 2008 John McCain.
2. Hillary didn’t “lose bad” in the sense of Germany 7-1 Brazil “bad.” She lost bad in the Miracle on Ice, USA 4-3 Soviet Union “bad.” That is to say, the heavily favored contestant, who should have easily wiped the floor with her/its underdog foe, instead lost narrowly to its underdog foe.

But this is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. If the people wanted something different and Trump was tapping into that desire, then Trump would have won the majority of votes. But he didn’t.

Saying that Clinton misread the American public contradicts the fact that the American public picked her.

She fucked up, she had three to five million bogus votes to spend, and she put them in the wrong states!

To be sure, plenty of voters were loyal Blues who voted Blue no matter what, or *weren’t *fed up with being fed up, maybe even happy with how things were going.

Hillary won the popular vote, no doubt. But only by 2%. Without that rage and desire to smash a wall felt by a chunk of the electorate, she’d probably have beaten Trump by double digits in the popular vote.

Anyway, what is the suggested explanation? That Trump ran a great campaign? He didn’t really. That Hillary ran a bad campaign? Ruled out. That the American people wanted change? Ruled out. So what does that leave us with?

I’m not really into sports (politics is what I follow as others do sports) so forgive the analogy. If it were basketball, Clinton losing is not like the opposing team made 100% of their 50ft 3 point shots, but more like she missed 75 layups. She lost not because of excellent play by her opponent, she lost because she made poor choices and unforced errors.

For example, campaigning in CA and not Wisconsin.

She did not win a majority of the vote. She won 48%. Why is is that when discussing HRC people feel the need to overcompensate on her behalf?

Regardless, winning the popular vote while losing the EC is evidence of a horrible campaign, not evidence of a good one. She spent resources in red states like Arizona & Texas, while ignoring the so-called blue wall in the rust belt even against Bill Clinton’s advice. She ran up the score in big urban areas, while losing rural & suburban working class voters that Obama actually won. She managed to lose safe states like Wisconsin & Pennsylvania, which during many presidential elections Republicans were mocked for even attempting to compete in.

Hers was a canpaign riddled with mistakes. Writing off Ohio almost immediately should’ve been a huge red flag for democrats. Choosing a milquetoast, centrist & unexciting white guy as VP was moronic, considering Bernie voters (45% of primary voters) were still skeptical of her & a PoC on the ticket would’ve excited the base. The deplorables comment was also crippling, no matter how true it may have been. Of course, she has a history of bizarre & inappropriate (for a politician running for office) comments, from black children being “super predators,” to “we’re gonna put a lot of coal miners outta work,” to praising Henry freakin Kissinger during a democratic primary debate.

She’s just a bad politician. People don’t like her, & her decades-long blood feud with the GOP & the media has left her with too many scars. She should’ve accepted her limitations & chose a different career path that didn’t require running for things. SecState was obviously a good idea, though she didn’t excel at that. Perhaps she would’ve made a great SC justice during Obama’s early years, back when she had enough good will left in the Senate to be confirmed.

Also, this is deeply unfair & largely out of her control, but her very public collapse from pneumonia was IMO the final thing that killed her campaign. The video of her being tossed into a car like a sack of potatoes was brutal, & to have it come immediately after a string of conspiracy theories about her health didn’t help. I don’t know what kind of damage control a campaign can attempt after something like that, but the time off Clinton had to take from campaigning surely didn’t help in the long run. Again, this was out of her control… but the trademark Clinton secrecy about her health leading up to this only made the collapse seem even more suspect in a lot of people’s eyes.

All that being said, if Kasich or Rubio or some other relatively sane Republican had been her opponent, we might’ve been looking at a landslide of Reagan proportions. The GOP nominating Trump was really her best chance to become president, & she blew even that, while losing a huge chunk of the Democratic coalition to the opposition in the process.

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It was Trump who ran a terrible campaign. He tried his best to run his campaign into the ground and alienate as many voters as he could, including leaking the infamous " Grab them by the pussy," tape, and yet he was still elected President. He’s done his damnedest since to whine and piss and moan so Congress would impeach and remove him so that he could go back to shilling shitty real estate advice and running casinos under water in New Jersey, but they just won’t give him satisfaction. He’s even tried insulting Chris Christie, picking a fight with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and goading his Attorney General to no avail. Clinton, on the other hand, is just a victim of her own sense of entitlement.

“Submitted for your consideration: one Donald J. Trump, a gaudy and bombastic real estate magnate with cheap tastes and crude manners, seeking attention to propel his business ventures, and his opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton, a graceless social climber who demands, and recieves, her place in history. Both will find that they have gotten more than they bargained for…in the Twilight Zone.”

This election was definitely scripted by Charles Beaumont


If Trump really wanted out, he’d take his Presidential limo over to Mueller’s office and confess.

Come on, how is a terminal narcissist ever going to just give up the Presidency? He’ll hang on to it until the bitter end. Running again, maybe not, but he’ll be glowering and TWITtering until noon on 1/20/21.


Twenty-some years of Republican propaganda.

She was up against a charismatic snake oil salesman and she couldn’t bridge the charisma gap.

She didn’t have a whole tv network in her pocket (quite the reverse) and she didn’t receive millions of dollars of friendly exposure.

The Dynasty problem

But, while I agree that she didn’t run a terrible campaign, I can’t agree that she ran a good one. It should never have been close.

I like sports analogies and I think this the one you make is a good one. I also agree that she didn’t lose bad, although I might have mentioned the 2007 Super Bowl which the Patriots lost to the NY Giants 17-14 as an example :p. The popular vote margin doesn’t matter, and bringing it up to defend Clinton doesn’t earn her any excuses. What’s frustrating about the way Clinton lost is that she did have the power to make some different choices that could have altered the outcome. We’re not talking about Mondale or Goldwater or the two time Adlai Stevenson ran against Eisenhower where they never had a chance. Clinton could have done any number of things a little different and that would have been enough. As mentioned upthread, her choice for VP was one of those mistakes. Spending time in places like Arizona was another. The list goes on, and if she had just done things a little different the outcome would have been different as well.

I don’t think it’s “overcompensation”; I think it’s just people getting the words “majority” and “plurality” confused. Clinton won a plurality that was not a majority.

It’s not just the fact that she lost, but how she lost, and to whom she lost, that convinces people she ran a terrible campaign. Speaking for myself, I don’t know if I would say her campaign was “terrible” but it did terribly fail in terms of meeting expectations. This is compounded by the fact that she lost her previous presidential campaign in which she was a heavy early favorite. Her failure is also magnified - you could say exaggerated - by the consequences of electing her opponent.

Very cogent analysis. Well done.

Love Trumps Hate! Pokemon Go to the Polls. Chillin’ in Cedar Rapids.

I don’t know how you read Shattered or articles like How Clinton lost Michigan — and blew the election or Study: Hillary Clinton’s TV ads were almost entirely policy-free and conclude her campaign was anything but a disaster on stilts.

This Chapo House rant is fun, but this part in particular makes me laugh:

Gore and Kerry ran crappy campaigns too.

She lost to Donald Fucking Trump. There is no way to characterize that as anything other than horrible.

She should have been ahead by fifty percentage points. She should have won by the kind of landslide LBJ won over Goldwater. And she lost. To Donald Fucking Trump.


“Decades-long blood feud with the GOP”. Did you mean “decades-long smear campaign by the GOP”? Because that would be far more accurate.

I mean, her campaign was certainly flawed and she certainly has some personality issues, but I’m having a hard time taking seriously anyone astonished that two decades of virulent, nasty lies about her character might have negatively impacted people’s opinion of her.

No. She won a plurality of votes. She won 48% of the popular vote to 46.1%. That is meaningful, but it doesn’t mean she won a majority of any sort (crucially, not the electoral vote).

Because if Democrats want to win the next election, they need to understand how to manage the factors within their control. “Badly” doesn’t mean “lost by a big margin.” It means the stakes were high, the opponent was beatable, and she made some dumb mistakes. She ignored the warning signs that Michigan and Wisconsin weren’t in the bag. She visited battleground states fewer times than Trump. She didn’t differentiate herself on substantive policy, but rather on “Trump so bad” and whatever “Better Together” means.

So, she made some bad mistakes that resulted in a really bad outcome, and her supporters continue with this weak-tea reassurance that she won a plurality of the popular vote. That qualifies as “badly” in my book. It’s a mistake that will play out again if people don’t learn from it.

Well said by Velocity:


No, this is a complete lie spread by Hillary apologists. She got 48% of the popular vote, which is simply not a majority however you cut it. The election for president is not based on popular vote, so claiming to ‘win’ based on it doesn’t make any sense, and it’s even sillier when people have to come up with fake news to even claim the win.

To continue to sports analogy, the reason why her campaign was so terrible is that while the election was a solid loss and not a blowout (304 to 227), she should have won handily. She was a conventional politician with the solid backing of her party and a husband who won two presidential races facing off against an orange asshole rich guy with no electoral experience who’s party refused to endorse him until the very end of the election cycle. It’s like a major league baseball team who live their lives training for the game squaring off against a local league of guys who drink beer and toss around the ball after work sometimes, and managing a 9-7 loss. Yeah, the loss wasn’t technically a blowout if you just look at the numbers, but the league guys and their beer shouldn’t have stood a chance against people who’s career focus is playing the game.

Her campaign seriously considered “It’s her turn” as a slogan. While they decided against that awful slogan (instead using the still-awful “I’m with her”), that attitude permeated their pathetic attempts to win the election. She swooped in with an air of entitlement and utterly failed to come up with any real message for voters, expecting them to vote for her because she is Hillary Clinton. She didn’t see any reason to try to appeal to ‘flyover states’, even though it was clear that many were contested, and chose to mostly or completely (first major party candidate since 1972 to skip Wisconsin entirely) ignore them in favor of big celebrity packed galas in places like NY and CA. She fumbled plays all across the campaign - for example by acting guilty and trying to cover up the email scandal, she generated enough smoke that people could believe there was fire. She did try to do some attacking, but it was half-hearted and ill-directed measures that backfired, like the ‘deplorables’ debacle. Also accusing people who don’t like her of sexism (which she didn’t do except by implication but her supporters love to) and trying to make the campaign about the ‘first female president’ was a horrible idea.

If it was a textbook campaign, it was in the section of ‘what not to do’. I don’t know of anyone making an election textbook who would recommend not giving a positive message to voters, not campaigning in contested states, holding big rallies in states that you have no chance of losing, screwing up even simple plays, going on the attack weakly, and a lot of other stuff that she did. It also doesn’t help that she possesses all of the charisma of a dead fish, the textbook should definitely recommend picking a candidate who actually appeals to people. Like B Clinton, W Bush, Obama, or Reagan. But hey, she had some kind of nebulous ‘qualifications’, and she should just get the win because “I’m with her”.