Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton faced an absolutely brutal loss Tuesday night, and though the campaign certainly didn't expect it, one insider shared in an email Thursday when exactly the tide might have turned against the former secretary of state.
No surprise: It has to do with FBI Director James Comey's letters to Congress just ahead of Election Day.
"We believe that we lost this election in the last week," Navin Nayak, the leader of Clinton’s opinion research division, wrote in an email to senior staff Thursday night sharing some post-election analysis. "Comey’s letter in the last 11 days of the election both helped depress our turnout and also drove away some of our critical support among college-educated white voters — particularly in the suburbs."
"We also think Comey’s 2nd letter, which was intended to absolve Sec. Clinton, actually helped to bolster Trump’s turnout," he added.
There were also a series of "structural" hurdles, Nayek contended, that the campaign failed to overcome:
• Global forces that we're [sic] driving deep-seated anger at institutions the world over, and an angry and alienated electorate at home that was frustrated with our political economic system.
• The inherent desire for change after one party occupies the White House for two-terms.
• The unprecedented task of electing the first woman to the highest office in the land.
• And the challenges of reassembling the coalition that elected President Obama twice.
Regardless of those difficulties, Nayek — and the rest of the Clinton team — believed the Democratic nominee had all but won the presidency until a week before Election Day, when "everything changed." According to his internal research, "Voters who decided in the last week broke for Trump by a larger margin (42-47). These numbers were even more exaggerated in the key battleground states."
Nayek believes Comey's letters regarding the investigation into Clinton's email practices during her tenure at the State Department played a significant role in depressing the liberal vote in Milwaukee, Detroit and Philadelphia — three cities that went overwhelmingly to Obama in 2008 and 2012. But ultimately, he wrote, "late breaking developments in the race proved one hurdle too many for us to overcome."
He also seemed to blame Green Party candidate Jill Stein for splitting at least some portion of the vote.
There is no question that a week from Election Day, Sec. Clinton was poised for a historic win. In the end, less than 110K votes out of tens of millions cast on Election Day made the difference in this race. It is worth noting that Jill Stein alone got 130K votes in those three states — and though her votes don’t distribute perfectly to cover the margin across the three states, it is an important reminder of the influence of 3rd party votes.
Read the full email below: