I Hate to Repeat Myself, But Trump Did Not Win: Clinton Lost

This article by Damon Linker totally mirrors my take on this election -- a competent Democratic candidate without Clinton's many flaws should have wiped the floor with Trump.  Biden would have won, I am absolutely convinced.  Anyway, I liked this bit from Linker:

Most of all, I don't want to hear about how unfairly Clinton was treated by the media. In comparison to whom? All the other candidates who've run for president while under criminal investigation by the FBI? (Maybe that substantial handicap should have overridden the party's presumption that she was owed the nomination because it was "her turn.") Or do you mean, instead, that she was treated badly in comparison to her opponent? Really? You mean the one whose 24/7 media coverage was overwhelmingly, relentlessly negative in tone and content? Either way, a halfway competent campaign should have been able to take advantage of the great good fortune of running against Donald J. Trump and left him bleeding in the ditch.

I am exhausted with folks talking about some fundamental political shift to a white male resurgence, or whatever.  There was no shift.  Trump got about the same number of votes as Romney and McCain.  He won no more white male votes than those guys and if anything performed better than them in traditional Democratic categories like single women and blacks.  The reason Trump won is because Clinton had 10 million fewer votes than Obama had in his first win.  Traditional Democratic supporters were unenthusiastic about Clinton and stayed home.


  1. J_W_W:

    You said Competent and then Biden. Assumes facts not in evidence.

  2. me:

    Right on. I keep having this discussion with my flabbergasted democratic friends. It's interesting because I had symmetric debates with them after Sanders was screwed out of the nomination, that ultimately were all settled by the wooden-mallet argument "we had to pick a candidate who would win". I am sporting a big huge "I told you so" these days.

  3. Joe Mama:

    As long as we are agonizing over minutia....Clinton did not "win" the popular vote. "Winning" the popular vote suggests that the candidate received more than 50% of the votes that were cast. Clinton received about 48% the last time I looked.

    Whew!!!! I am glad to get THAT off my chest.

  4. morganovich:

    while i am far from a fan of trump, i think it's worth pointing something out: he would have mauled biden or sanders.

    the road to the presidency is littered with the carcasses of people who thought trump was a pushover. he's not. he's a VERY powerful campaigner who can suck literally ALL the oxygen out of any room, no matter how big. when trump is around, you do not get to talk. you do not get media cycles.

    biden would have lost in a landslide. no one would have even known he was running, and bumblin joe would have put his foot in his mouth 30 times (as he always does) and trump would have eviscerated him.

    sanders could NEVER win. no way. the center in the US is not going to elect a socialist and the young don't vote no matter what they claim.

    the polls for head to head are irrelevant. the polls have been wrong on damn near everything. populists do not give their real preference (or decline to answer) when asked. then they go vote.

    this has happened over and over all over the world.

    this is why the brexit polls got "stay" exactly right, but that all 6% of "undecided" broke for "leave".

    trump is a new kind of political candidate. running against him is something none of the 15 people he beat were even remotely capable of and biden and sanders would have been no different. hell, sanders couldn't beat hillary. and yeah, the dems rig the primary, but he still would have lost to her anyway. he was not "screwed". hillary beat him by 12 points in the popular vote and a lot of his votes were "protest votes" from folks who did not really support his message. he was so clearly over after super tuesday that it was safe to "protest".

    citing some poll from june about sanders beating trump is meaningless. the polls then showed hillary winning in a landslide. hillary v trump showed hillary by 20 points back in july. until trump turns his PR machine directly on you, any polling is gibberish.

  5. SamWah:

    Competent Democratic Candidate: Names, Les; I need NAMES. Trump would have knocked them off balance, too. And likely kept doing so. Conventional politics got beaten by unconventional politics.

  6. Mercury:

    If the election were determined by the popular vote both sides would have campaigned differently and Clinton may or may not have ended up winning the popular vote. So, the "Clinton Won The Pop Vote" meme is more or less meaningless. Almost zero effort was expended on California for instance because Clinton considered those electoral votes and Trump considered them a lost cause. Turning on the Trump Machine in CA may very well have put him over the top in the popular vote as well but that wasn't the game that was being played.

    Besides, you'd think "Progressives" would be simply thrilled that the most well-funded campaign and the candidate openly supported -almost unanimously- by the "1%" lost...

    Also, the candidate who is the long-time, political vet, the one who "deserves" the office...tends not to win the election. Think Mondale, Dole, Kerry and Gore to a lesser extent and now Hillary. So no, I don't think Biden would have won. He's a political hack lifer who would have represented Obama II. Many people are afraid to publicly come out against Obama just like they were afraid to show support for Trump.

  7. marque2:

    We aren't even sure if the 6% of the undecided were the ones who broke for Brexit. Just as I am very dubious of the exit polls this time. The exit polls showed a Hillary win, so they were wrong, and yet they are still being used to say Women voted X for Trump, Blacks Y, Hispanics Z, when half of them were afraid to say who they intended to vote for.

    I was more of a Trump fan, and wore a "Make America Great Again" hat around town, which is relatively conservative. You would be surprised how many woman, would look around nervously when they saw me and then when no-one was near would whisper, "I like your hat." People were so afraid of the PC police that Trump support was very underground. Even I succumbed. When I drove my 14 year old car, I put a Trump sticker on the bumper - didn't care if the old car got damaged, but I didn't dare put a bumper sticker on the new car I purchased. California is the land of the tolerant you see.

  8. marque2:

    Trump was definitely playing the Electoral College game, and played it well. With less than half the money of Clinton, he had to focus money and energy in a very targeted way. Yes if there were campaigning in CA, as would be necessary if the election were popular vote, he could have gotten more votes. I am not sure why I, as a conservative, voted this CA election, I had a choice of Two Dem candidates for senate, and really no choice but the Dem in congress, the State reps were all shoe in left wing, and the propositions almost all went super left (except death penalty) I don't think many conservatives bother in this state any more, without a bit of a push.

  9. ColoComment:

    Further on Trump's campaign strategy, there was an interview on NPR this morning with his "digital director." Here:

    If you don't want to listen to the replay, the interview was similar to this:

    Trump has some awfully smart people working for him..... Which gives me hope. :-)

  10. DirtyJobsGuy:

    The election is over. Please can we discuss the issues raised by Coyote's post without the name calling and comic book posturing? Coyote is right on the numbers and if you look at how well most GOP Senatorial and other candidates ran you can see that a more conservative GOP candidate is very likely to have done very well against Hillary. The problem Trump will face as President is that his instincts are more socially left on issues and spending if only to keep from having to deal with the details. This explains his meeting with Al Gore or his flirting with stimulus and spending largess. As President he will have to deal with the 50% of the country that didn't support him in many ways. My fear is that he will cave rapidly to popular spending and gifts to keep his approval high. That's the world the real Donald Trump will be in, not the Comic Book Superhero Trump of the commenters. Real Donald Trump will be the man in charge. I hope he realizes how hard that will be.

  11. Matthew Slyfield:

    "Trump was definitely playing the Electoral College game,"

    Clinton was also playing that game, but she thought she had the election in the bag, so she didn't bring her A game.

    In the last week before the election, She was putting all her effort into flipping states Trump was expected to win easily to create an electoral landslide. At the same time, she put no effort into defending the "blue wall" states that Trump was working on flipping.

  12. marque2:

    I think Hillary did a more general campaign while Trump did very careful targeting of particular areas. Trump also ignored states in the bag, or that he couldn't win. It was his son in law who devised the strategy for how to target limited campaign funds and when to pull them when they weren't effective. Very interesting read.


  13. mlhouse:

    Totally disagree. The problem for every Democratic candidate is that the party has become a party of elitist whites and minorities. The old core of the Democratic Party, white, blue collar workers, have been abandoned by the Democratic Party. When your candidate runs around talking about how she is going to eliminate coal mining jobs that is poor politics, but is also the mainstream position of the Demoratic Party.

    In 1980, Reagan created an electoral coalition that won. His coalisiton consisted of first/second generation Western voters that immigrated to California from the Midwest ; Midwestern blue collar workers, particularly Catholic blue collar ; and White Southern Baptist/Methodist evangelicals combined with the foundatioal GOP voters. Reagan offered each of these constiuency groups solid promises: tax cuts and balanced budgets for the establishment to defeat the economic decline of stagflation, higher defense spending and the end ot appeasing the Soviets for the blue collar workers, and social conservative issues for the evangelicals.

    This constituency won three national elections. But times change quickly. The economic policies contributed to a great economic expansion. The foreign policy "won" the Cold War. And probably more importan, the first and second generation western voters died off and/or lost political power.

    So, no matter how much nostalgia the GOP has for the Reagan years, the coalition he developed could not be reformed, and some of the issues like tax cuts, and particularly the social conservative issues of abortion and gay marriage, did not have the appeal to the voters any more.

    But Trump stumbled onto a new coalition that could win. In many ways Trump is just a replay of the more isolationist wing of the Republcian Party. But Trump created a coalition of (most of) the GOP establishment with economic issues from tax reform and teh elimination of ObamaCare. More importantly, however, he advocated populist economic issues that brought the blue collar workers to the GOP fold which overlapped with the concerns of the social conservative block of voters WITHOUT having to advance the abortion/gay rights issues to the forefront.

    But in the end, what may have tilted the election to Trump was the fact that Antonin Scalia died and this drove enough of the GOP/conservative "Never Trumpers" to the ballot box to vote for someone they publically could not tolerate. Through mucj of the election cycle most polls showed only a 75-80% Trump preference amongst self identified Republican voters. But in the final tally, Trump won 88% of the GOP voters.

  14. Rewired actuary:

    I like Trump's take: In a meeting with the New York Times Tuesday, the president-elect said, “I’d rather do the popular vote from the standpoint — I’d think we’d do actually as well or better — it’s a whole different campaign. It’s like, if you’re a golfer, it’s like match play versus stroke play. It’s a whole different game.”

  15. Gil G:

    Last times I looked Clinton has way more votes than Trump.

  16. John Moore:

    I can guarantee you that some of Trump's support game about exactly because of Democratic Party identity politics regarding gay marriage and transexual locker room "rights." Too many people analyze the election without recognizing the large factor that political correctness played. I wasn't a Trump supporter, but I ran into a bunch at Breitbart events here in Phoenix, and PC was one of the biggest things on their minds.

    Remember, "deplorables" was about the half of Trump's base that was politically incorrect. She wasn't talking about white, or out of work or anything else. She was deploring people that stood against the wave of PC.

  17. John Moore:

    You can't just use the raw numbers. Motivation counts. Trump lost votes among a number of conservatives of my acquaintance, who voted for Johnson as a protest. Trump gained votes among people who were sick of being called "deplorables."

    The coalition has shifted. Traditional conservative issues are less powerful than people think. I was a Cruz supporter, but I learned a lesson here: ignore actual people (as opposed to ideas) at your peril.

  18. marque2:

    I heard that too, thought it was quite funny, because of the arrogant golf talk. I would have compared it to checkers and chess and changing the game. I have heard some compare it to letting the football team that got the most yards win, rather than the highest score, or baseball by hits rather than runs.

  19. John Dewey:


    Trump may have won about the same number of white votes that Romney and McCain won. But I'm not so sure those were the same votes. My blue collar friends were more fired up about Trump than they were in any past election. My more educated friends were not so happy, and some of them stayed home.

  20. Adam Bricker:

    We don't elect presidents by popular vote. If we did, Trump would have campaigned differently, focussing more on CA, NY and FL, and would have won anyway. Believe me.

  21. Peabody:

    Agreed, which white votes are important. Whites in Orange County, CA and Fairfax, VA voted less for Trump. But blue color whites in WI, OH, etc. did in higher proportions.

  22. Peabody:

    Reminds me of polls where "Generic Republican Candidate" ran pretty well against Obama during his first term. However, "Generic Republican Candidate" doesn't exist any more than "Generic Democratic Candidate". It's easy to say that this or that person would have done better, but it very difficult to say how a specific person would do over the span of a year and half campaign.

    I do agree that Hillary was a historically terrible candidate. But I believe Bernie Sanders would have been a historically terrible candidate as well. It would have been interesting to see how a more moderate Democratic candidate would have done, sort of like Clinton was before Sanders and the base pushed her further left. The 2012 Hillary would likely have done much better. Her public positions were more mainstream (who know about her private positions) and there were no FBI investigations.

  23. Matthew Slyfield:

    "I think Hillary did a more general campaign" I have heard Hillary campaign insiders say otherwise.

    Trump put some resources into defending red states that Hillary was targeting. Hillary ignored Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania even after the Trump campaign started to target them.

  24. Seekingfactsforsanity:

    DJT won because enough of the people were tired of just another lifelong politician , even one like "a competent democrat". All those "competent politicians" are driving our country into ruin. I see it, your dispatches reveal it repeatedly, and now the people have sent their own dispatch.

  25. Ike Pigott:

    But you would be wrong. The "golf talk" is not arrogant at all, it is actually the perfect analogy. Dead freakin' on. I am too poor to golf myself, but if you understood the rules of Match Play and Stroke Play, you would see the parallel.

    Trump is a lot of things, but elitist isn't one. He is from the outer boroughs, and the Manhattan socialites have always rejected him.

  26. Ike Evans:

    I agree with this column, but I'd take it one step further.
    Trump won because of a fluke in the system. If you took the same people who voted and moved them to different states, Hillary would have won by a healthy margin.

    What is to be learned from this election? It seems that both parties are taking precisely the wrong lesson. The GOP seems content in surrendering to an out-n-out populist-chrony-capitalists strong man. The DNC is doubling down on their divisive identity politics that is more concerned about the 0.001% of people who want to switch bathrooms, when they should talk more about growing the economy.

    Ever since 1980, conservatism has been kicking ass in overwhelming margins in American politics. 2016 just might be the year that conservatism died when neither party is willing to stand for economic liberty.

  27. Ike Evans:

    DJT won because of a fluke in the electoral college. Take the same number of voters for each candidate and move them to other states and Hillary would have won with a healthy margin. (For the record: I voted third party, so I'm ambivalent about whoever won 2016.)

    There are lessons to be learned by both parties. Some people see it, the vast majority don't.

  28. Ike Evans:

    I do find it interesting that the scandals that plagued her candidacy were almost entirely of her own making AFTER 2008.

    Obama beat McCain by 7 points and Romney by 3. Contrary to popular belief, I think both McCain and Romney were actually pretty decent candidates who so happen to be running against one of the most talented campaigners since Reagan.

    Hillary is no Obama nor Reagan. Despite her corruption and charismatic skills of a badger, the DNC decided to rig the system to ensure she got the nomination on no other qualification other than her gender - i.e. they overplayed the card of ID politics. This is a lesson they should learn, but, alas, DNC probably isn't and Keith Ellison is proof of that.

  29. Ike Evans:

    This is an interesting point that I've heard a few times before. I would like to see what sort of empirical data there is to support this hypothesis.

    I work with lots of Union folks. One guy I know is a lifelong Democrat who is bemused by how his party is working overtime to cater to 0.001% of the population that wants to switch bathrooms. I suspect he voted for Trump.

  30. Q46:

    "...a competent Democratic candidate without Clinton's many flaw..."

    That is an assumption that the election was about personalities - a beauty contest, rather than a contest of political ideas.

    Perhaps you are right.

    UK Brexit vote, to which the Trump win is likened, and now Italy's vote, the rise of so-called 'populism' (or grass-roots democracy to give it its real name) has nothing to do with flawed personalities, nor did the US election.
    It was not Clinton who lost the vote, it was everything she and those like her are and for what they stand... most of the political class.

    A large slice of the populations in Western so-called democracies are rejecting that. Others are still having a tough time seeing the wood for the trees.

  31. kidmugsy:

    Sorry, but Trump's analogy is better than yours.

  32. Carl S:

    This post is a rather textbook example of hindsight bias. Despite all of your past erroneous predictions (referring to Republicans shackling themselves to a suicide bomber), you are now "absolutely convinced" that you understand the election and what's more, feel you can make definitive predictions on match-ups that didn't happen and probably never will. (Although Biden hasn't ruled out 2020)

    Perhaps you should peruse your own critique of anthropomorphic climate change to understand the error in this thinking.

  33. joe:

    I work with lots of Union folks. One guy I know is a lifelong Democrat

    Is he a union employee working in manufacturing
    or a
    union employee working for government in some form -

    If he is a government union employee (SEU ) then he most likely voted for the status quo

  34. Ike Evans:

    Hillary isn't interested in the status quo. Allowing transgenders to use the bathroom of their choice is a brand new controversy stirred up by the social justice warrior left.

    There are lots of people who would love the status quo. Hillary isn't necessarily for them.

  35. marque2:

    Can't say that. Trump was playing the electoral vote game, and played it many times better than his opponent. He didn't need votes in CA for instance, so he didn't bother. If they were playing a different game, both candidates would have campaigned differently and campaigned for a different set of votes.

    It is not all that clear that Hillary would have won if we had a popular election, since the game would be different, and played differently.

  36. GoneWithTheWind:

    You could be right but at this point what difference does it make. Obama didn't win MaCain and Romney lost. They were poor candidates and never took the fight to Obama. But what difference does it make because we got Obama for 8 years even though "he didn't win".

  37. Not Sure:

    Adam's right, you know. How many sacrifice bunts do you suppose you'd see in a baseball game if the winner was decided by the number of hits, not runs.

  38. Seekingfactsforsanity:

    Change the "fluke" as you call it, and DJT would have changed his tactics and spent more time in Democratic strongholds and other large cities and he would have won even more "popular votes" and the election would not have turned out any differently. But, but, but ..........if only, if only,...........

  39. John Dewey:

    Ike Evans, published data in many media showed the strength of Trump with blue collar workers. That was shown in pre-election polling, the election day exit interviews, and the post-election analyses. Here's a slice of the post-election analysis from the NYTimes:

    "The Wyoming River Valley of Pennsylvania — which includes Scranton and Wilkes-Barre — voted for Mr. Trump. It had voted for Mr. Obama by double digits.

    Youngstown, Ohio, where Mr. Obama won by more than 20 points in 2012, was basically a draw. Mr. Trump swept the string of traditionally Democratic and old industrial towns along Lake Erie. Counties that supported Mr. Obama in 2012 voted for Mr. Trump by 20 points.

    The rural countryside of the North swung overwhelmingly to Mr. Trump. Most obvious was Iowa, where Mr. Obama won easily in 2012 but where Mr. Trump prevailed easily. These gains extended east, across Wisconsin and Michigan to New England. Mr. Trump won Maine’s Second Congressional District by 12 points; Mr. Obama had won it by eight points."


  40. John Dewey:

    Joe: "Is he a union employee working in manufacturing"

    My unionized airline mechanic friends in Dallas were rabid Trump supporters. So were the unionized oil refinery workers I know in Louisiana. It wasn't only those union workers from the rust belt - the ones angry about offshoring jobs - who jumped on the Trump bandwagon.

    Joe: "if he is a government union employee (SEU) then he most likely voted for the status quo"

    SEU and NEA may be the largest unions in the nation. But their members are not representative of the blue collar segment of the electorate. Blue collar Trump supporters included both union and non-union workers that the Democratic Party has been steadily losing over the past two decades. What Trump did differently from McCain and Romney was speak to the economic and cultural issues that are important to those workers.

  41. Ike Evans:

    So far, it looks like the Dems are doubling down on this failed strategy. This brief clip from Bill Maher is a perfect illustration of that.


    Maher makes some good points. The one lady on the panel is very offended at his remarks, and it demonstrates that they just aren't getting it. Reality offends liberals, and I say that even as I think Trump will probably be a terrible president.

  42. Ike Evans:

    You might be right. Playing hypothetical history is a sometimes fun but otherwise frivolous exercise.

    There are lessons to be learned from this election, and both sides need to be taking notes. They aren't.

    For the GOP: I sincerely hope I'm wrong, but I predict Trump will be an unmitigated disaster. The worst thing that could have happened to the GOP and conservatism is letting Trump win. Trump is neither competent nor a conservative by any stretch of the imagination. Trade is good, crony capitalism is bad, and Trump doesn't understand either of these concepts.

    For the Dems: They need to stop spending so much energy catering to 0.001% of the population that has a minor problem with the way bathrooms are set up. They need to stop thinking of vast swaths of the American electorate as deplorable. They need to step outside of their safe spaces to realize they overplayed their card on ID politics.

  43. John Dewey:

    Ike Evans,

    From the November 13th edition of the Denver Post:

    "The president-elect held a 136-vote lead Friday in Pueblo County, a working-class community in southeastern Colorado where only a quarter of voters identify as Republicans and President Barack Obama won by 14 percentage points in 2012."

    It wasn't only in the rust belt that blue collar workers abandoned the Democratic Party. Even though Hillary squeeked by in Colorado, the working-class voters may make this a toss-up state Democrats willhave to defend in 2020.

  44. morganovich:

    "Clinton was also playing that game, but she thought she had the election in the bag, so she didn't bring her A game."

    this seems like baseless conjecture.

    that WAS her A game. she's just a terrible candidate with no charisma and no career achievements to point to apart from managing to stick around.

    given how tight the polling was toward the end (within margin of error all over the place) the idea that she "thought she had it in the bag" seems pretty hard to swallow. she had one of the most sophisticated polling systems ever run in the US.

    she had a bad message, a bad messenger, and an opponent who is actually a helluva lot tougher to beat that people keep trying to pretend. how many life long, connected, successful politicians did trump absolutely evicerate in this campaign? a dozen?

    trump can suck all the air out of any room. he takes over the whole discussion and you get sidelined.

    it's amazing that no one can see the simple fact pattern here. trump is a 12-0 nfl team where the commentators are saying that all 12 opponents "beat themselves".

    he understood this election at a far deeper level than his opponents and the commentators. he's playing a game a full level above the rest and they just do not see it.

    keep underestimating him if you like, but that just plays right into his hands.

    the media thought it was being anti trump. really, it was energizing his base. he knew that, but the ridiculous writers at huffpo and the nyt didn't.

    those claiming this was "hillary losing not trump winning" really do not understand what just happened.,

  45. Ike Evans:

    It would seem that my anecdote is emblematic of the larger trend. I appreciate you bringing this to my attention.

  46. Penkville:

    One thing I'm always amused about, is the refusal to accept that persuading people not to vote for your opposition is just as important as, and so just as much something to give credit for, as winning votes for yourself. So statements like "Trump did not win: Clinton lost" are simply not accurate.

  47. John Dewey:


    You haven't made it clear why you believe there has been no fundamental political shift in America. The aggregate data you cite cannot be your sole readon. That data is clearly misleading because it masks what has been the giant electoral college impact of changes in blue collar attitudes.

    One reason many of us believe there has been a political shift is the fierce tone by which both working class and conservative white collar voters express their views on immigration. There has always been strong opposition to Hispanic immigrants. But have never heard such widespread and angry expressions from folks who are normally calm. Voters were fed up with the inaction by both parties. I am convinced that Republican leaders will now, finally, do something about what most Americans see as a major problem.

    Perhaps the political shift is not so much a change in voter attitudes, but rather the awakening of one political party to the passion of the electorate.

  48. CapitalistRoader:


    I Hate to Repeat Myself, But Trump Did Not Win: Clinton Lost

    Similarly, my vote for Trump wasn't primarily a vote for Trump, rather it was a vote against Hillary.

  49. ErikTheRed:

    A better analysis than most. I figured out a year ago that the "Reagan Democrat" voters would never hold their noses for Clinton and would either stay home or vote for a candidate that spoke to them. Trump pandered to them flawlessly (granted, with mountains of economic snake oil, but whatever). I strongly dislike Trump, but he has been a lock to win for over a year. The only thing that surprised me was how close the media managed to make it.

    In any case, I love watching elections and people's reactions to elections. It amazes me how in this one narrow area of life people who normally know much better will consistently make their "facts" fit their desired conclusions.

  50. ErikTheRed:

    Since this group (even the ones I disagree with) tends to be significantly smarter than average, I wonder how many followed Scott Adams' (the creator of Dilbert) blog during the election. He called Trump winning quite early based on his persuasion skills. It's a good argument. I think it's far from complete, but it's still an interesting analysis.