A new report from Politico Wednesday morning illustrates the stunning extent to which the campaign of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was blind to President-elect Donald Trump's potential challenge in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
In a decision that is sure to be second-guessed by political observers for all eternity, interim Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile hatched a plan to spend money to drive up inner-city turnout in places like Chicago and New Orleans — even though neither Illinois nor Louisiana was remotely competitive — because of fear that Clinton would win the Electoral College vote but lose the popular vote. So confident were Clinton campaign officials of their Electoral College win that they refused requests to reallocate resources to places like Michigan because they did not want to risk the public relations nightmare that would come along with losing the popular vote. Per Politico:
But there also were millions approved for transfer from Clinton’s campaign for use by the DNC — which, under a plan devised by Brazile to drum up urban turnout out of fear that Trump would win the popular vote while losing the electoral vote, got dumped into Chicago and New Orleans, far from anywhere that would have made a difference in the election.
Nor did Brooklyn ask for help from some people who’d been expecting the call. Sanders threw himself into campaign appearances for Clinton throughout the fall, but familiar sources say the campaign never asked the Vermont senator’s campaign aides for help thinking through Michigan, Wisconsin or anywhere else where he had run strong. It was already November when the campaign finally reached out to the White House to get President Barack Obama into Michigan, a state that he’d worked hard and won by large margins in 2008 and 2012. On the Monday before Election Day, Obama added a stop in Ann Arbor, but that final weekend, the president had played golf on Saturday and made one stop in Orlando on Sunday, not having been asked to do anything else. Michigan senior adviser Steve Neuman had been asking for months to get Obama and the first lady on the ground there. People who asked for Vice President Joe Biden to come in were told that top Clinton aides weren’t clearing those trips.
Equally astonishing, the Clinton campaign flatly refused to divert volunteers from Iowa — which they openly regarded as a lost cause — into Michigan in the closing days of the campaign. In fact, they angered SEIU volunteers by more or less ordering them to remain in Iowa:
SEIU — which had wanted to go to Michigan from the beginning, but been ordered not to — dialed Clinton’s top campaign aides to tell them about the new plan. According to several people familiar with the call, Brooklyn was furious.
Turn that bus around, the Clinton team ordered SEIU. Those volunteers needed to stay in Iowa to fool Donald Trump into competing there, not drive to Michigan, where the Democrat’s models projected a 5-point win through the morning of Election Day.
In the end, of course, Clinton ended up winning the popular vote by a relatively comfortable margin — in fact, almost the exact same margin that President George W. Bush enjoyed in 2004 when he defeated Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry. However, her failure to understand the strategic situation on the ground led to a crushing Electoral College loss.