when such ill-dealing must be seen in thought.”
-- William Shakespeare, "Richard III." Act 3, Scene 6 --
Dream on, Hillary.
You too, FBI, CIA, NSA.
FBI Director James Comey feels guilty about stumbling and fumbling Hillary´s email case and hurting her electoral chances. He is feverishly trying to make up by legitimizing Hillary´s claim that the Russians hacked the election.
That claim carries a serious innuendo which the Washington establishment does not want analyzed, discussed. They want you to see it in mind alone. An open secret, then.
In place of strategy and tactics, Comey throws everything on the wall and hopes something sticks. Pure random odds will make him right some of the time. That is how ignorance passes for intelligence.
If President Trump keeps Comey on board, it will be because he finds in Comey a kindred spirit.
Comey has something else going for him. With time, many problems solve themselves. The 2016 presidential election was a vintage example of circumstances beyond Trump's control working in his favor.
For other examples look no further than nature. If left alone, it provides countless remedies.
Cures that don´t need any intervention on our part are what keep quack doctors of all sorts in business. Washington is packed to the gills with them.
Over six months ago, on June 24, 2016, we called for Comey to resign due to his gross mishandling of the Jihadi John affair and the Orlando massacre in which Omar Mateen, a middle class rebel turned terrorist who was known to the FBI, massacred 49 people.
Under Comey, FBI bungling continues. Last week, Esteban Santiago, shot to death five people in Ft. Lauderdale. Like Mateen, Santiago was known to the FBI ("He slipped through the cracks.")
It is by now clear to any reasonable person that Comey is in over his head.
His manifest incompetence in handling Hillary's email case definitely harmed her campaign, but in a way neither Comey nor Hillary ever imagined.
We will show how shortly.
* * *
Sorry, Hillary and Comey, CIA, NSA -- Obama, too: it just won´t work.
You say the Russians hacked the election. Computer experts, among them John McAfee, dispute your claim. Not being a computer expert, I am in no position to verify or refute their arguments.
My objection is of another order ...
What bothers me is that your claim of Russian hacking carries an innuendo referred to above:
The Russians won the election for Trump.
You hope the innuendo will be widely accepted despite your overt denial of it. I say that because if you wanted to, you could evaporate the innuendo with a single well-worded press release. Where is it?
"Don´t take it personally, but..." "I don´t want to tell you, but ..." We have all seen the affirmation-by-denial ga-game before, many times, in the world where we live and work.
The Russians Elected Trump as a surreptitious, backdoor-man hint, an odor, a shadow -- not as an up front and center argument where it can be confronted, analyzed, confirmed, denied -- is totally unacceptable.
* * *
The Big Surprise, not Putin, cost Hillary the White House. We will identify that surprise shortly. We will also show why the Russians were incapable of engineering it. For that matter, neither was Trump.
We need first, though, to take a closer look at the Washington establishment´s allegation that Russia meaningfully hacked the election; we must make manifest what is latent. The reason is that, to arrive at the truth, we must first destroy the allegation´s real purpose: divert attention.
A perfect example of the innuendo ga-game was delivered last week by General James Clapper, national intelligence director.
According to an ABC report, General Clapper said he is confident Russia hacked the 2016 American election:
Asked about the possible effect of the disclosure of private information stolen by hackers, Clapper said, "The intelligence community can't gauge the impact it had on the choices the electorate made." But he did say Russian hacking "did not change any vote tallies."
Clapper´s response is ambiguous. On the one hand, the impact of Russian hacking cannot be known; on the other hand ... that hacking did not change the vote. The impact cannot be known, yet Clapper knows it anyway (i.e., no tallies were changed). Amazing.
What is behind the Clapper claptrap? What purpose does it serve?
Clapper is playing the same old ambiguous, affirmation-by-denial ga-game Washington D.C.-style. In a situation of ambiguity, he who is in a POSITION to know the truth has the power. That is why, as do Comey et al, Clapper revels in ambiguity; he creates it day-in day-out, at the drop of a hat.
Enhanced power for him is why, dear reader, don´t waste your time asking Clapper to clarify his screwball nonsensical statement about the impact of Russian hacking.
Clapper´s conclusion is rephrased in the joint FBI/CIA/NSA secret document declassified and made public January 6 -- "Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections":
"We do not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election. The U.S. intelligence community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze U.S. political processes or U.S. public opinion."
How anybody can assess the actions of foreign actors without analyzing U.S. political processes is beyond me. While we´re at it, no vote tallies changed is clearly an assessment. More Clapper claptrap, then.
The important thing is, by washing its hands of the impact of Russian activities on the election, the intelligence community leaves open the door to the possibility that the Russians determined the outcome of the election. And so, it is left to you, dear reader, to string the beads. Clever, no?
Well, did the Russians elect Trump or didn´t they? Clapper says he cannot know.
Let me help you with that one, General.
* * *
Simple math reveals incontrovertibly where, how, and why Hillary lost. It also shows that because she violated a fundamental rule of political campaigning, she has nobody to blame but herself.
When the election dust settled, Trump won 304 Electoral College votes to 227 for Hillary. 270 are needed to win the presidency.
Much has been made of the fact that Florida went for Trump. Florida has 29 electoral votes. Do the math, dear reader: Florida was icing on the cake for Trump. He could have lost it and still won the presidency.
Ditto Ohio with its 18 Electoral College votes which Trump also won. A nice win, but not necessary.
Where, then, was the nec plus ultra, i.e., the be-all and end-all, of Hillary´s loss?
Answer: Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Together, they have 46 Electoral College votes. 304 - 46 = 258. Without that triple play, Trump would have lost the White House.
Conversely, for Hillary 227 + 46 = 273. Had Hillary carried those three states, she would now be preparing for her presidential inauguration on January 20, instead of being stuck at home with Bill, pissing and moaning about how Russian President Vladimir Putin was out to get her.
What made those three states decisive, special:
Let´s establish first a national norm, i.e., a context.
In 2012, Barack Obama received 65,915,785 votes. In 2016, Hillary received 65,844,954 votes. Those totals are remarkably even. Thus, in concluding that to win the White House, Hillary only needed in the tri-state area to obtain no more than the votes Obama obtained four years earlier, we are not being unreasonable.
Hillary failed to equal Obama in
(i) Wisconsin (Hillary´s 1,382,536 to Obama´s 1,620,985).
(ii) Michigan (Hillary´s 2,268,839 to Obama´s 2,564,569).
(iii) Pennsylvania (Hillary´s 2,926,441 to Obama´s 2,990,274).
You just saw the key to the election.
We said that all Hillary had to do was equal Obama in those three states to win the White House. Here are the figures showing that, had she obtained Obama´s 2012 votes, she would have defeated Trump:
(i) Wisconsin. Obama received 1,620,985 to Trump´s 1,405,284.
(ii) Michigan. Obama received 2,564,569 to Trump´s 2,279,543.
(iii) Pennsylvania. Obama received 2,990,274 to Trump´s 2,970,733.
The take-away sentence:
In Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, Hillary failed to match Obama´s vote in 2012, thereby losing all three states and the presidency.
She was caught in a tri-state triple play. Inning and game over.
In what follows we oversimplify certain electoral results for the sake of clarity.
In particular, there is always circulation in the voter pool. Voters die or move away, others move into a state or turn 18 years old. Because the voter pool changes, no comparison between groups in different election years will be perfect. When you shake it all out, however, voter populations four years apart are more alike than not.
A quantitative, precinct-by-precinct analysis of our triple-play states is needed to confirm or deny conclusions presented here. That analysis would make an excellent thesis for a budding poli sci graduate student. A best-seller, too.
We start by comparing voter turnouts in 2012 and 2016 for the two major party presidential candidates. For our comparisons to make sense, however, we need to establish a second national norm, a context.
In 2012, the turnout for Obama-Romney was 126,849,299. In 2016, the turnout for Trump-Hillary was 128,824,833. 1,975,534 more people voted in 2016 than in 2012. The norm for evaluating any of the 50 states in 2016, then, is a small increase or at least a turnout equal to 2012.
Did the triple play states meet that norm?
(i) In Wisconsin the 2016 vote for Trump and Hillary totaled 2,787,820. For Obama and Romney 2012, the turnout was 3,028,951.
The turnout in Wisconsin 2016 fell by a huge 241,131 voters.
Where did those people go?
Not to Trump. He received about the same vote (1,405,284) as Romney (1,407,966).
Not to Hillary. She received 238,449 fewer votes than Obama 2012.
There is only one place where the 241,131 missing voters could have gone: nowhere. They stayed home. We will see why in a moment.
In the meantime, you might want to wonder about something. 238 thousand (fewer votes for Hillary) and 241 thousand (lower turnout) are very close indeed.
Continuing our examination of turnout,
(ii) Michigan. Michigan presents a slightly more complex situation than Wisconsin. As we shall see, slightly is the correct word.
2016 turnout for Trump-Hillary: 4,548,382.
2012 turnout for Obama-Romney: 4,679,825.
There were 131,443 fewer voters in 2016 than in 2012.
As with Wisconsin, Michigan was below the national norm of a small increase/equal turnout in 2016 vis-à-vis 2012.
In Michigan, Trump received 2,279,543 votes to Romney´s 2,115,256. The significant increase of 164,287 votes for Trump is all the more remarkable given the overall decline in turnout of 131,443 voters just noted. That bounce for Trump makes Michigan more complex than Wisconsin.
Something else makes Michigan more complex ...
Hillary´s Michigan vote was a whopping 296,730 less than Obama obtained in 2012.
Where did all those Obama voters go?
One probative hypothesis: at least 131,443 Obama voters stayed home, accounting for the turnout drop in 2016. The remaining 165,287 missing Obama voters can only be identified on an aggregate level by a precinct analysis, e.g., did they stay home and their absence was more than compensated for by a heavy turnout of new Trump voters?
The important thing is that the decline in turnout in Michigan came directly out of Hillary´s hide. That finding is incontrovertible. As we just saw, it was also valid for Wisconsin.
The decisive political question:
Why did at least 131,443 Obama voters in Michigan stay home in 2016? Had they showed up and pushed the button for Hillary, she would have trounced Trump in the Wolverine State. I say that because Trump carried Michigan by a meager 10,704 votes.
As with Wisconsin, we will account shortly for the abstention in Michigan of over a hundred thousand Obama voters.
(iii) Pennsylvania. The increase in complexity grows; however, not in a way that is qualitatively distinct from Michigan.
2016 turnout for Trump-Hillary: 5,897,174.
2012 turnout for Obama-Romney: 5,670,708.
Unlike Wisconsin and Michigan, Pennsylvania met the national norm of an increase in turnout -- 226,466 -- in 2016 over 2012.
In Pennsylvania Trump received 2,970,733 votes to Romney´s 2,680,434. That was a huge increase of 290,299. What it means remains to be seen.
Hillary, to the contrary, received 2,926,441 votes to Obama´s 2,990,274 -- a deficit for her of 63,833.
An obvious conclusion: the 226,466 increase in Pennsylvania´s overall turnout did Hillary no good whatsoever. In fact, the increase was all to the contrary; look again at the increase of 290 thousand for Trump over Romney.
Note carefully we say the missing Obama voters.
A hypothesis peddled by CNN and elsewhere is that there was a "whitelash" in which white, working class, mysogynist-xenophobic-racist (read: fascist) voters -- Hillary´s famous "basket of deplorables" -- turned out in mass for Trump. Frankly, I doubt such a group would have voted for Obama over Romney, so we are not looking at a swing vote contingent that put Trump over the top in Pennsylvania. The same conclusion applies to Wisconsin and Michigan.
Slice it and dice it any way you like, this is what is at bottom in Pennsylvania. As in Wisconsin and Michigan, we are ultimately not looking at a plus; we are looking at a minus -- The Big Surprise.
Here is what is truly incredible:
Even in Pennsylvania where there was (i) an increase in turnout 2016 v. 2012 of 226,466 voters, and (ii) Trump obtained 290,299 more votes than Romney, all Hillary STILL had to do was equal Obama´s vote in 2012 and she would have won Pennsylvania (2,990,274 for Obama to Trump´s 2,970,733).
Phrased differently: had Hillary won the missing 63,833 Obama voters of 2012, she would have carried Pennsylvania. She lost by 44,292 (2,970,733 for Trump v. 2,926,441).
EVEN IF A "WHITELASH" OCCURRED, then, the numbers show the real cause of Hillary´s defeat in Pennsylvania: 63,833 Obama voters stayed home in November 2016.
Conclusion: As in Wisconsin and Michigan, Hillary´s loss in Pennsylvania is due to her failure to win over the 2012 Obama voters and get them to the polls.
I repeat our proverbial bottom line: all Hillary had to do was match Obama´s vote in 2012 and she would have carried all three states and won the White House. She failed.
There it is -- The Big Surprise. We discuss below why it was indeed a surprise.
We come to the decisive question.
In Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, The Big Surprise occurred: large numbers of Obama voters in 2012 stayed home in 2016.
Why did Wisconsin and Michigan fall far short of both national norms: (i) Hillary vote = Obama vote, and (ii) equal or slightly greater turnouts in 2016 than in 2012? Pennsylvania lived up to norm (ii) but not norm (i).
The enigma is easily solved when 2012 Obama voters are re-defined:
In the Wisconsin and Michigan 2016 Democratic primaries, Bernie Sanders beat Hillary.
(i) Wisconsin. Sanders trounced Hillary 57%-43% -- 570,192 to 433,739 votes. Especially disturbing for Hillary: out of 72 counties, she carried only one (Milwaukee).
(ii) Michigan. Sanders defeated Hillary by 3% -- 598,943 to 581,775 votes. His narrow victory hides a disaster in waiting: out of 83 counties Hillary carried only 10.
There is a significant correlation between Sanders supporters and Obama 2012 voters who abstained in 2016. That group -- not Putin or Trump -- created The Big Surprise.
By doing nothing, that group did everything.
The Democratic primaries in Wisconsin and Michigan raised mile-long red flags to Hillary´s camp. Her Democratic base vote was deeply divided. There was serious work to be done. Of course, nothing of the sort happened. Hillary´s paint-by-the numbers campaign forged ahead, on rails. No maneuvering, no veering left of right, possible.
(iii) Pennsylvania. Hillary solidly defeated Sanders, 55% to 43% -- 935,107 to 731,881 votes. However, her comfort was -- or should have been -- cold. Sanders carried 30 out of 67 counties.
Here again, in Pennsylvania, we are looking at a seriously divided Democratic base. Although outnumbered, Sanders´ 731,881 supporters were literally a force to be reckoned with by the Clinton camp. As in Wisconsin and Michigan, that reckoning never happened -- which is why Election Day turned into a day of reckoning.
The enigma solved:
The lion´s share of the vanished Obama supporters in 2012, who Hillary needed to win the three states and the presidency, were Sanders supporters who stayed home in November 2016.
* * *
We said that Hillary has only herself to blame for her defeat. Here´s why.
To this day, Hillary and her silly-priced political consultants fail to understand the most basic rule of well-run political campaigns. We will formulate it as follows:
BUILD STRENGTH ON STRENGTH, NOT ON WEAKNESS.
Stated in grosso modo terms, you start by consolidating your base vote, i.e., the voters who are already favorably-inclined toward you. After that consolidation is accomplished, you move to the undecideds/swing areas. Finally, if time and resources permit -- which they seldom do -- you try to convert hostile voters/areas.
Those basic logistics are common sense incarnate.
Sure, with enough time and resources Hillary could convince Melania Trump to vote against Donald. The problem is those same resources spent elsewhere could have won for Hillary thousands of undecided voters instead of just one vote. On election night, the candidate who receives the most votes wins. No extra points whatsoever are awarded for converting hostile voters.
Again, all that is common sense; however, you would be surprised at the number of candidates who just don´t get it, who charge off into hostile areas first in order to "get them out of the way."
For presidential candidates the support base is easily identified: primary election voters. In 2016, Hillary received 16,914,722 primary votes to 13,206,428 for Sanders. Obviously, on a national level the Democratic base was gravely divided. Our triple-play states reflected that split.
Hillary´s idea of a political commitment is a cocktail party. She and her advisers obviously thought that a quickie Democratic Party convention appearance by Sanders, plus subsequent Sanders speeches endorsing her, would fix the split and consolidate the Democratic base. We will show in a moment why a lot more than nullité sonore political mouthings, band aids and bobby pins, were needed. The political split reflected a fundamental economic dilemma which we identify below.
That dilemma painted Hillary into a corner. Involved therein is the Clinton Original Sin. It is why Hillary could not do what had to be done to firm up the Democrat base: pick Sanders -- or someone else exposing his campaign´s economic issue with credibility -- for her Vice President running mate.
* * *
"The flaw in the pluralist heaven is
that the heavenly chorus sings with
a strong upper-class accent."
-- E.E. Schattschneider, The Semisovereign People --
The reason why hundreds of thousands of 2012 Obama voters/Sanders supporters in the triple play states did not vote in November is also the reason why Russian hacking (assuming it occurred) did not, in and of itself, elect Trump.
Trump must have looked a time or two over his shoulder at 2008, Obama v. McCain. To win, Trump had to do something about the potential 69,498,516 Obama voters who buried McCain. Those voters were four million more than Hillary received eight years later. A lot of people, to be sure; however, not out of reach if you know how to reach them. In a moment we will show why Hillary could not do it.
Not only the size but also the distribution of the huge 69-million Obama voter reservoir should have deeply troubled Trump. Obama crushed McCain in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
All those additional 4 million Obama 2008 voters were out there ready ... waiting ... willing -- able to pounce on Trump.* Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania: I will say it again, a huge number of those Obama voters were alive-and-well Bernie Sanders supporters.
Trump´s problem: how to prevent them from voting. If they showed up
So long, farewell,
Auf Wiedersehen, goodnight.
Our post a month before the election "How to Defeat Trump´-- and How to Defeat Hillary" noted that Trump could keep thousands -- indeed, millions -- of Obama voters/Sanders supporters at bay by creating
cognitive dissonance, i.e., mental stress resulting from holding ambivalent attitudes and contradictory ideas.
On the one hand Trump is a conman and brute; on the other, Hillary is a crook and can´t be trusted. Discomfort can be reduced by avoidance; in this case, by not voting.
There´s the good side; there´s the bad side. Somebody in Trump´s camp intuitively senses the value of ambiguity. They countered the damaging Trump sex tape not by denying it but by holding a press conference in which Trump presented women who said they were assaulted by Bill Clinton. Allegations that Trump is a sexist were met with charges that Hillary was a criminal for mishandling top secret documents.
In sum, when examined in the cold light of day, there is nothing mysterious about Trump´s victory. To achieve it, he needed help from Hillary, and he got it. In particular, by attacking Trump over and over instead of going positive in the last two weeks of the campaign with common sense projects and visionary goals, Hillary only reinforced the ambivalence washing over America. That ambivalence was especially high in the Obama voters/Sanders supporters group.
Stated in terms frequently employed in the political campaign trade, Hillary and her campaign staff got sucked into a pissing contest.
Note carefully the use of the word intuitively to describe Trump´s tactics. I never saw any disciplined, targeted, systematic application of tricks of the campaign trade to instill cognitive dissonance in an opponent´s voter base.**
As circumstances -- luck -- would have it, Trump didn´t need that rigorous application. A host of ingredients he did not prepare, foresee or control, e.g., James Comey´s on-again-off-again email case, formed the ambiguity soup washing over the nation. As just noted, one especially vital ingredient beyond Trump´s control was Hillary herself.
Let´s delve deeper into the nation´s ambivalent emotions and thoughts about both Trump and Hillary ...
Cognitive dissonance was the order of the day throughout America. A June Gallup poll showed historically high record numbers of negative responses for both Hillary and Trump.
But why were Sanders supporters especially susceptible to cognitive dissonance? What enhanced their ambivalence -- their conflicted feelings and contradictory ideas -- beyond that of the country at large? After all, when all is said and done, the raw 2016 turnout was greater than in 2012. (NOTE: The opposite conclusion holds if the 2016 turnout is defined in terms of the Voter Eligible Population. See footnote).
Sanders centered his campaign on the central economic dilemma of our times. That dilemma is a core subject of this blog. In America the rich are getting richer, the poor poorer, the middle class smaller. We do not accept Sanders´ solution -- raise taxes on the rich -- but that is outside this discussion.
Study after study of nonvoters e.g. The Semisovereign People, arrived at this finding:
Millions of people don´t vote because candidates don´t meaningfully address their issues, most of which are economic. Sanders broke the rule; he was the only candidate in 2016 to bring up with any credibility America´s growing economic polarization.
After the July Democratic Convention, why didn´t Hillary pick up where Sanders left off? Why didn´t she meaningfully address economic polarization, especially the shrinking of America´s middle class?
Answer: she couldn´t. Her hands were tied, and not only by Wall Street contributors who don´t want basic economic cleavages brought up.
We come to the Clinton Original Sin mentioned above. Ssshhh; the Clintons want it dead, buried deeper than deep.
That sin: in 1993, President Bill Clinton brazenly betrayed the middle class.
His betrayal was laid bare in a 1993 L.A. Times article published a scant four days after Bill was inaugurated:
"From roughly Thanksgiving, 1991, through Election Day, 1992, candidate Clinton conducted an extraordinary dialogue with America's middle class: commiserating with their economic plight; decrying how their taxes had been raised while those of the rich were reduced, and promising all that would change if he was elected.
´Out there,´ he liked to say, ´you can hear the quiet, troubled voices of forgotten middle-class-Americans lamenting the fact that government no longer looks out for their interests.´ These were not careless words. From the start, Clinton's pollster, Stanley Greenberg, had identified a ´middle-class centered coalition´ as the key to Democratic victory ...
Recall, if you will, Clinton's TV spot for the New Hampshire primary: The candidate described how his comprehensive economic plan ´starts with a tax cut for the middle class.´ Together, he promised, ´we can put government back on the side of the forgotten middle class and restore the American dream.´ And when George Bush tried to drop his own middle-class tax cut, Clinton was outraged. ´The rich get the gold mine and the middle class gets the shaft,´ he charged. ´It's wrong and it's going to ruin the country.´...
Indeed, middle-class Americans could legitimately interpret Clinton's campaign as a continuing reaffirmation -- albeit without ´read my lips´ insistence -- of personal belief that the middle class had been savaged by the economic circumstances and unfair tax policies of the 1980s. His election would change this, Clinton said, and from Long Island to Los Angeles, suburb after suburb tore up its GOP record and backed a Democratic presidential candidate who spoke like no other they had ever heard.
Or he did until he had their votes on Nov. 3. Now, that empathy may be vanishing into the mists of memory. Under the pretense of being stunned by federal budget-deficit estimates that, in fact, were already circulating last summer, the Arkansan is putting aside his middle-class tax pitch and mumbling that nobody ever cared about it, anyway. But what about the voters in New Hampshire and elsewhere who responded to that TV ad in which Clinton promised his economic program ´starts with a tax cut for the middle class?´"
Back to the present: Hillary was not about to bring up, much less denounce Bill´s treachery of the middle class. Result: she was boxed in.
Hillary´s inability to meaningfully adopt Sanders´ economic issue, much less put Sanders/someone like him on the ticket, left Sanders supporters with nowhere to go. Neither Trump nor Hillary were discussing what mattered to Sanders people.
That missing dialogue was the sine qua non of The Big Surprise.
On the one hand; on the other. There´s the good side and the bad side. Riddled with ambivalence, with conflicting ideas and feelings, with cognitive dissonance which was magnified by the fact that neither Trump nor Hillary were seriously talking about their issue of economic polarization, thousands of Obama voters/Sanders supporters in the triple play states did what I did. They said to hell with it. They stayed home, watched TV, played with the kids, walked the dog.
The Belvedere Challenge
I mentioned above I never saw any systematic, targeted, disciplined application by the Trump camp of techniques to heighten cognitive dissonance in the potentially lethal army of Obama 2012 voters/Bernie Sanders supporters. That dissonance is what kept them home on election day, thereby delivering the White House to Trump.
Here is a concrete example of how to systematically create cognitive dissonance in an opponent´s support base. We mentioned it in our "Morning After" post:
"In creating cognitive dissonance in order to lower turnout, I speak from decades of campaign experience.
To cite one election:
I worked for a Democrat running for governor. A large percentage of the Republican base vote was in the suburbs of a big city, hence, easy to locate geographically. As would be expected, that base was loaded with upper middle class college graduates -- doctors, engineers, lawyers, scientists.
Both my client and his Republican opponent -- a rancher who had earned his money the hard way: he married it -- had been state senators. I prepared a flier showing that, unlike my client, our rival had voted against state funding for education not once but three times.
We hand-distributed the flier to thousands of households in the Republican suburb.
The objective was not to convert the Republican base vote -- an impossibility -- but to give it something extremely serious to ponder. On the one hand, on the other ... There´s the good side and the bad side ...
Our tactic worked -- the doctors, engineers, lawyers and scientists stayed home in droves. My client won the governorship by less than 3,000 votes."
Clearly, that tactic required an intimate knowledge of the candidates and also of the electoral lay of the land. That kind of knowledge can only come from years of experience in local political trenches. To claim that any foreigner, including the Russians, has that knowledge of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania is ridiculous.
To claim the Trump campaign staff had that knowledge is equally absurd. I could write a book about their naivete and clumsiness. One illustration:
Trump´s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, who had never run a campaign before, appeared on "Meet The Press" on October 23, 16 days before the election. Responding to a question about poll results unfavorable to Trump, she said: "We are behind."
In those circumstances -- I have been there many times -- the correct response is:
If the election were held today, we would lose. But the election is not being held today.
That way, the truth -- all of it -- is told and in a way that does not dishearten supporters or keep undecideds undecided.
On election night the Trump camp was just as shocked by his victory as was the world at large. That shock was due to the fact they did not deliberately, skillfully engineer The Big Surprise. It caught them flat-footed.
I will string the beads:
It was not in Trump´s campaign strategy to create especially high levels of ambivalence among Obama voters/Sanders supporters.
The Russians were equally if not even more dumbfounded on election night -- understandably so, for they, too, did not anticipate -- much less manufacture -- The Big Surprise. I quote from the FBI/CIA/NSA secret report:
"Moscow´s approach evolved over the course of the campaign based on Russia´s understanding of the electoral prospects of the two main candidates. When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign began to focus more on undermining her future presidency."
There you have it. Neither the Trump team nor Moscow thought Trump was going to win. We don´t call it The Big Surprise for nothing. Watching the election results on TV, Trump must have felt as if a deity came down, tapped him on the shoulder. It´s yours, bub: all of it.
FBI, CIA, NSA, Hillary: I challenge you to go to Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Review the 2016 TV campaign publicity and reports, the campaign fliers, the candidate interviews, the telephone bank and door-to-door volunteer scripts, the radio spots, the yard signs and billboards, the stump speeches, the newspaper and internet reports and ads. I challenge you to show a single case of a tactic comparable to the one we employed in a big city to create cognitive dissonance in the opponent´s camp to lower its turnout. Trump didn´t have the know-how or experience; neither did the Russians.
FBI et al: until you produce that case, your backdoor-man innuendo, The Russians Elected Trump, isn´t worth the B.S. it´s printed on.
*Those four million Obama voters were only the tip of the anti-Trump iceberg.
For purposes of this post, we have defined turnout in terms of real live voters, viz., we looked only at active participants across elections.
As mentioned, the votes cast for the two major candidates were 127 million in 2012 versus 129 million in 2016. A small increase, then. America´s voting eligible population (VEP), however, during the same period rose from 222 million to 231 million. When "turnout" is defined in terms of votes cast relative to the VEP, 2016 had the lowest turnout in 20 years.
That low VEP turnout decidedly benefited Trump.
Characteristics of the 100 million-plus nonvoters are well-known. For starters, they are less affluent, less educated, younger.
They are also less Republican-inclined.
**Republican and Democratic base voters are demographically different. Consequently, things that create cognitive dissonance in one base do not create it to the same degree in the other.
One such item was Sanders´ economic polarization issue to which he and his supporters attached the highest priority. Hillary marginalized it. Thus, even though the Democratic and Republican bases were exposed to the same reports, rumors and messages in the mass media and the Internet, the Democratic base experienced greater ambivalence, and consequently shrank in turnout relative to the Republican base.