Wednesday, December 14, 2016

"The Plan Was Accomplished; Just Not The Right Plan"

Hindsight calling.  In a booming cottage industry of post- election- mortems, this analysis by Edward-Isaac Dovere at Politico focuses on Michigan, but has resonance in other "blue wall" states. We look at this as one of many potential "lessons learned," not in a spirit of recrimination, but to remind ourselves of a basic tenet (read on).  Quoting at length:
Politico spoke to a dozen officials working on or with Clinton’s Michigan campaign, and more than a dozen scattered among other battleground states, her Brooklyn headquarters and in Washington who describe an ongoing fight about campaign tactics, an inability to get top leadership to change course. 
Then again, according to senior people in Brooklyn, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook never heard any of those complaints directly from anyone on his state teams before Election Day. 
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 commitments in the final days, and that AFSCME never even made any, despite months of appeals. 
The anecdotes are different but the narrative is the same across battlegrounds, where Democratic operatives lament a one-size-fits-all approach drawn entirely from pre-selected data — operatives spit out “the model, the model,” as they complain about it — guiding Mook’s decisions on field, television, everything else. That’s the same data operation, of course, that predicted Clinton would win the Iowa caucuses by 6 percentage points (she scraped by with two-tenths of a point), and that predicted she’d beat Bernie Sanders in Michigan (he won by 1.5 points).  (our emphasis)
The analysis has plenty of insider stories about how the Brooklyn HQ folks ignored on- the- ground intel, passed up on opportunities to have Clinton or other surrogates come to the state, and otherwise took the "blue wall" state for granted (the same scenario was undoubtedly replicated in Wisconsin where, for example, the only Clinton or high- profile Clinton surrogate to show up during the general election campaign was... Chelsea). In the end, the top- down, one- size- fits- all approach turned into a disaster on election day.  As one Michigan Democrat put it:
“I think it’s true, they executed well. I think it’s true that the plan was accomplished,” said a former labor leader in the state. “But the plan was not the right plan."
The age- old lesson to impart here is that it isn't what you don't know that gets you into trouble, it's what you know for sure that just isn't so. Read the entire piece as at least one reasonable take on what didn't work and why.

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