NYT: David Plouffe’s Election Mea Culpa

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I ran Obama’s 2008 campaign. Should I have known better this time?

David Plouffe writes: Like many people around the world, I expected a comfortable Hillary Clinton victory on Tuesday. But I’m not a random pundit when it comes to understanding presidential races and the electorate — I managed one Obama presidential campaign and oversaw another from the White House. So of all the forecasts that got it wrong, my prediction that Mrs. Clinton was a 100 percent favorite was a glaring miss.

“It’s a reminder that presidential campaigns are driven in large part by personality, not party. Ronald Reagan, President Obama and now Mr. Trump all were able to create electoral coalitions unique to them.”

My confidence was not partisan spin. It was based on public data, voting history and some sense of the Clinton campaign’s own models. I played with various state scenarios, and even in the most generous outcomes, could not get Donald J. Trump to 270 electoral votes.

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“It really was a change election. The voters were serious about that. And there was only one change candidate.”

But he ended up winning 306 electoral votes and, most important, did it by breaking into the Upper Midwest, leaving the blue Big Ten firewall in ruins.

What happened? We will know much more when all the data is in and we can see exactly who voted. But based on what we know, it was a combination of several factors that led to this stunning upset.

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DEMOCRATIC TURNOUT WAS VERY WEAK Overall turnout was as well, as Donald J. Trump received fewer votes in winning than Mitt Romney did when he lost decisively in 2012.

“What happened? We will know much more when all the data is in and we can see exactly who voted. But based on what we know, it was a combination of several factors that led to this stunning upset.”

Still, the nagging worry about a lack of broad-based enthusiasm for Mrs. Clinton, which I noted often as someone familiar with the Obama coalition, proved to be justified. She had passionate supporters and volunteers, for sure. But for sporadic and potential first-time voters, the spark was not there.

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[Read the full story here, at The New York Times]

In Detroit, Mrs. Clinton received roughly 70,000 votes fewer than Mr. Obama did in 2012; she lost Michigan by just 12,000 votes. In Milwaukee County in Wisconsin, she received roughly 40,000 votes fewer than Mr. Obama did, and she lost the state by just 27,000. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, turnout in majority African-American precincts was down 11 percent from four years ago.

It’s a reminder that presidential campaigns are driven in large part by personality, not party. Ronald Reagan, President Obama and now Mr. Trump all were able to create electoral coalitions unique to them.

MR. TRUMP’S MARGINS IN RURAL AND EXURBAN COUNTIES WERE OFF THE CHARTS For example, in Madison County, an exurban area outside Columbus, Ohio, Mr. Romney’s margin over Mr. Obama was 20.4 percentage points; Mr. Trump’s margin over Mrs. Clinton was 39.8. In Buchanan County, Iowa, outside Cedar Rapids, Mr. Obama beat Mr. Romney by 13.9 points. Mr. Trump reversed that result, winning the county by 14.2 points. That happened in thousands of counties throughout the country, and it added up quickly.

IT REALLY WAS A CHANGE ELECTION The voters were serious about that. And there was only one change candidate….(read more)

Source: The New York Times



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