Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Drum: No Big Lessons frm Clinton Loss

Kevin Drum advises Democrats to hold the hand-wringing over the 2016 election loss on Mother Jones.

The volume of hot takes about how Hillary Clinton—and Democrats more generally—blew the election is getting way, way out of hand. Of course Clinton made mistakes. Every campaign makes mistakes. But her margin of loss was only 80,000 votes among three states. She won the popular vote by 2 percentage points. She outperformed the econometric models. And she accomplished this despite the headwind of the Comey letter, the Russian hacks, and the media's insane preoccupation with her email server.

Everyone wants to draw big, world-historical lessons from this election. That's understandable, since the result was the election of an unprecedentedly dangerous and unqualified candidate. But the data just doesn't support any big lessons. Barack Obama won the popular vote in 2012 by 3.9 points. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016 by 2.1 points. That's less than a two point difference, despite the fact that Obama is unusually popular and Clinton had to run after eight years of Democratic rule. In the end, she did slightly worse than Obama, which is about what you'd expect. Unfortunately, a little too much of that "slightly worse" happened to be in three must-win states.

This election turned on a few tiny electoral shifts and some wildly improbable outside events. There simply aren't any truly big lessons to be drawn from it.

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