It is now becoming clear that Clinton’s ground game — the watchword for defenders of her alleged competence — was actually under-resourced and poorly executed. Like so much else in this election, her field strategy was hostage to the colossal arrogance and consequent incompetence of the liberal establishment.The larger point here is that smug self-satisfied professionals are neither the basis for governing electorate nor are they a basis for a campaign.
At the heart of the failure was the notion of the “new emerging majority.” According to this argument — pushed by, among others, John Judis and Ruy Teixeira — women, Latinos, blacks, and skilled professionals who support the Democrats were becoming the demographic majority. Thus the traditional white working-class base of the Democratic Party could be sidelined.
Back in July Chuck Schumer summed it up: “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”
From this theory and strategy flowed a deeply flawed set of tactics, and a badly fumbled get-out-the-vote (GOTV) effort.
A labor organizer in Ohio, who wished to remain anonymous, reports that Clinton’s early GOTV effort there focused on Republicans in the mistaken belief a significant number of them could be peeled away. This play largely failed. And it also involved serious opportunity costs: traditional Democratic constituencies like African Americans and the white working class were neglected, and Clinton ended up badly under-performing Obama among both groups, especially in the Rust Belt.
Only in the last two weeks, according to this labor source, did the Democratic Party outreach effort really switch back to traditional Democratic voters. By then, it was too late. Due to lack of preparation, the voter lists guiding the effort had not been updated. Because poorer voters tend to relocate more frequently than home-owning suburbanites, many addresses were wrong. And for lack of more frequent contact the campaign was often unsure about the voters’ current political attitudes.
The Clinton campaign’s assumption seems to have been that actual people living on the ground in actual places knew less about the population around them than did the data-savvy professionals at campaign headquarters in Brooklyn.
The computer-obsessed Clinton campaign — having lost touch with people but not big data — seems to have inadvertently turned out Trump voters!
A point for the Left in all this: the DNC’s ideas are not only bad because they don’t advocate the social-democratic redistribution we would like to see — they are also bad because they don’t work at a purely technical level.
Their arrogance and contempt for the working class produced a flawed political theory, which in turn produced a bad strategy, which in turn produced a tactically inept ground game.
Too busy congratulating themselves and concurring with each other, the Clintonites couldn’t even get the rudiments of the campaign correct.
This was shown by the debacles in 1994, 2004, 2010, 2104, and 2016.
It is only when the Republicans step on their own dicks (impeachment, Iraq, financial crisis, Mitt Rmoney) that this strategy, and this class, manages to win elections.