After crunching numbers for months, a group of Democratic strategists have finally figured out why Hillary lost the 2016 election: "her base didn't turn out." Sure, it probably had absolutely nothing to do with all those criminal FBI investigations or the fact that Trump was able to flip some Midwest states that haven't gone Red since Ronald Reagan. Per McClatchy:
A select group of top Democratic Party strategists have used new data about last year’s presidential election to reach a startling conclusion about why Hillary Clinton lost. Now they just need to persuade the rest of the party they’re right.
Many Democrats have a shorthand explanation for Clinton’s defeat: Her base didn’t turn out, Donald Trump’s did and the difference was too much to overcome.
Ironically, while offering up the most ridiculous explanation possible for the outcome of the 2016 election, undoubtedly in an effort to erase all blame from Hillary herself (it wasn't Hillary's fault, her team just didn't turn out the voters...they failed her), one strategist noted it's important to "learn the right lesson from 2016" and not just the one "that makes us feel good at night."
“We have to make sure we learn the right lesson from 2016, that we don’t just draw the lesson that makes us feel good at night, make us sleep well at night,” Canter said.
Sure, it couldn't possibly be that Trump's message just resonated better with voters in the Midwest...this map of Michigan is just the result of "voter turnout" problems...any suggestion to the contrary is just "fake news."
And this one from Wisconsin too...
Meanwhile, one strategist suggested that it's just time to give up on policy debates because "persuasion is harder and costs more than mobilization." Yes, because renting buses is way cheaper than crafting a message that actually resonates with voters.
That debate is complicated, she added, because some Democrats think winning over voters is already a lost cause.
“There’s still a real concern that persuasion is harder and costs more than mobilization, so let’s just triple down on getting out the people who already agree with us,” she said. “And I think there’s a lot of worry that we don’t actually know how to persuade anymore, and so maybe we should just go talk to the people we agree with.”
But at least some folks within the party are still willing to be honest with themselves.
Turning out the base, the data suggests, is simply not good enough.
“This idea that Democrats can somehow ignore this constituency and just turn out more of our voters, the math doesn’t work,” Canter said. “We have to do both.”
Democrats are quick to acknowledge that even if voters switching allegiance had been Clinton’s biggest problem, in such a close election she still could have defeated Trump with better turnout. She could have won, for instance, if African-American turnout in Michigan and Florida matched 2012 levels.
They also emphasize the need for the party to continue finding ways to stoke its base. Democrats can do both, said Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA, a super PAC that backed Clinton last year and now is trying to help Democrats return to power.
“I really do believe that we should reject this idea that if we just focus on turnout and the Democratic base that that will be enough,” he said. “If that really is our approach, we’re going to lose six or seven Senate seats in this election.”
Nothing like a nice game of CYA...if folks within the Democratic party truly believe this is the reason that Hillary lost in 2016 then they deserve the follow-up shellacking that undoubtedly awaits again in 2020.