How Clinton lost Michigan — and blew the election, by Edward-Isaac Dovere.
Flip Michigan and leave the rest of the map, and Trump is still president-elect. But to people who worked in that state and others, how Clinton won the popular vote by 2.8 million votes and lost by 100,000 in states that could have made her president has everything to do with what happened in Michigan. …
In results that narrow, Clinton’s loss could be attributed to any number of factors — FBI Director Jim Comey’s letter shifting late deciders, the lack of a compelling economic message, the apparent Russian hacking. But heartbroken and frustrated in-state battleground operatives worry that a lesson being missed is a simple one: Get the basics of campaigning right.
Clinton never even stopped by a United Auto Workers union hall in Michigan, though a person involved with the campaign noted bitterly that the UAW flaked on GOTV [get out the vote] commitments in the final days …
“It was very surgical and corporate. They had their model, this is how they’re going to do it. Their thing was, ‘We don’t have to leave [literature] at the doors, everyone knows who Hillary Clinton is,’” said one person involved in the Michigan campaign. “But in terms of activists, it seems different, it’s maybe they don’t care about us.”
Michigan operatives relay stories like one about an older woman in Flint who showed up at a Clinton campaign office, asking for a lawn sign and offering to canvass, being told these were not “scientifically” significant ways of increasing the vote, and leaving, never to return. A crew of building trade workers showed up at another office looking to canvass, but, confused after being told there was no literature to hand out like in most campaigns, also left and never looked back. …
[Democrat HQ] Brooklyn’s theory from the start was that 2016 was going to be a purely base turnout election. Efforts were focused on voter registration and then, in the final weeks, turning out voters identified as Clinton’s, without confirmation that they were.
The feel at the end was all wrong for the Dems:
When top aides to the Trump campaign mapped out the best-case scenarios for election night, they always fell short of 270, and Michigan was always the state that they couldn’t see a way through.
Trump’s last stop of the election was a massive rally in Michigan that went on past midnight, his campaign homing in on Trump’s chances there largely from nervousness it sensed coming out of [Democrat HQ] Brooklyn.
Walking out at the end, Trump turned to his running mate, Mike Pence, almost confused: “This doesn’t feel like second place,” he said, according to a person familiar with the conversation.
Democrats felt it too. Rep. Debbie Dingell, who complained throughout the campaign about the lack of urgency and support, has told people since the election that Hillary and Bill Clinton both said in their final appearances in the state that they felt something was off.
Premature celebrations due to the poll-driven models:
On the morning of Election Day, internal Clinton campaign numbers had her winning Michigan by 5 points. By 1 p.m., an aide on the ground called headquarters; the voter turnout tracking system they’d built themselves in defiance of orders … showed urban precincts down 25 percent. Maybe they should get worried, the Michigan operatives said.
Nope, they were told. She was going to win by 5. All Brooklyn’s data said so.
In at least one of the war rooms in New York, they’d already started celebratory drinking by the afternoon, according to a person there. Elsewhere, calls quietly went out that day to tell key people to get ready to be asked about joining transition teams. …
Clinton lost Michigan by 10,704 votes.
David Archibald comments:
It is as if we had died and gone to Heaven. The Secretary of Defense quotes Marcus Aurelius, the White House Chief of Strategy quotes Plutarch and the Secretary of State recites the Scout’s prayer. This is a complete antithesis of the Obama White House.
But it was a close run thing.
The gods punish excessive hubris, and the Clinton campaign had plenty.
hat-tip David Archibald