Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Factors and Non-Factors in Hillary's Defeat

Hillary Clinton officially (finally, thank God) lost the nomination last night. More relevantly, Barack Obama won the nomination but I'll talk about that in a different post. However, there has been plenty of debate about why Hillary lost. Here's my top five reasons she lost and the one non-factor everyone's talking about:
  1. She Conceded Iowa: Don't underestimate how important this was. The Clinton campaign last year made a determination that it would be too difficult if not impossible for Hillary Clinton to compete in a state of white working class Americans. Ironic, no? Anyway, she figured John Edwards' had a huge advantage on the ground there and would trounce her. Turned out Edwards' ground game, while formidable was beatable. Obama's win in Iowa gave him the credibility he had, up until that point, lacked. For the first time, he was the front-runner. That never really changed the rest of the way.
  2. She Thought the Race Ended February 5th: The rumour is that Hillary's people didn't understand that the Democratic Party assigns delegates proportionally. They thought they could win California and New York and just walk away. Oops. Turns out the PR rules meant Hillary's victory in California was fairly small (in terms of delegates). She then failed to get a ground game going in the next 11 contests. Obama was able to run almost unopposed in a lot of these states, pick up huge, delegate producing majorities and win the nomination.
  3. She Didn't Understand How to Use the Internet: There is an irony that the woman who started her campaign with an internet video would be brought down by a candidate who out-webbed her. However, that is exactly what happened. Hillary's people didn't understand how powerful a fundraising and organizing tool the internet could be. Barack Obama did. He out raised her, out organized her and won the nomination.
  4. She Couldn't Control Her Surrogates: This started and ended with Bill but there were a few people in between. As Hillary tried desperately to shed her patrician image, her surrogates were consistently arrogant and condescending. As they say in Hillary country, that dog won't hunt.
  5. She Underestimated Her Opponent: You get a sense that Hillary Clinton thought her nomination was inevitable until the moment she lost in Iowa. There was no serious effort by Clinton to try to go after Barack Obama until well after it was too late. The attempts she did make only solidified his message of hope and change.
The non-factor in this race was gender. Plain and simple there is simply no evidence that voters cared one bit about gender. In fact Hillary won the people who you would have thought would have never voted for a woman (see all those "hardworking, white Americans" she loves so much). Obama also won with a coalition of younger and better educated Americans. The ones you wouldn't expect to be as concerned about gender. Media pundits calling her names does not a sexist country make. No, nobody talked about Barack's haircut (that was reserved for John Edwards), but they did talk, ad nauseam, about his bowling score and other trivial things (see flag pin-gate). Clinton lost this nomination because of her mistakes and those of her campaign combined with the unprecedented race run by her opponent. No amount of genitalia would have changed the result.

1 comment:

Andy said...

Very good analysis. I think it was mostly that she thought she had tons of room to manoeuvre, and therefore let too much slip away early, and that Obama used the system to build a victory on the basis of caucus results in what for the party were mostly insignificant states.

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