Was Bernie Sanders The Ralph Nader Of 2016?

One professor is suggesting that Bernie Sanders played a role in 2016 similar to the one that Ralph Nader did in 2000. It doesn't pass even cursory examination.

Bernie Sanders Ralph Nader

Writing in Time Magazine, McGill University Professor Gil Troy argues that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders played the same role in the 2016 election that Ralph Nader did in the 2000 election:

On Election Day, Senator Bernie Sanders earned the 2016 “Ralph Nader Award” for the Leftist Most Responsible for Helping Republicans Win the Presidency. True, Donald Trump cleverly exploited voters’ frustrations. And Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 was as rigid and empty as it was when she lost in 2008. Still, Sanders helped Clinton lose. His insurgency pushed her too far left to prevent an effective re-centering in the fall, while goading her into wooing different constituencies rather than uniting the nation.

In fairness, Sanders ran a surprisingly effective campaign tapping the same anti-establishment fury Donald Trump stirred. Although Sanders and Trump are very different, their campaigns were not. Each treated Hillary Clinton as a compromised, Wall Street-worshipping, Establishment sellout. Both demonized Washington insiders and free trade, rather than tackling the real structural problem: the United States deindustrialized because Americans refuse to pay what it costs to hire American workers and instead buy cheaper imported products. As a result, just as Ralph Nader siphoned tens of thousands of votes on Election Day 2000 in Florida from Al Gore, causing the deadlock and George W. Bush’s victory, Bernie Sanders’ similar vampire effect enfeebled Hillary Clinton.

This dynamic followed a classic historical pattern. Sanders drew Clinton from the center toward the Democrats’ extreme flank. That shift paralleled Jimmy Carter’s leftward lurch when Ted Kennedy ran in 1980, and George H.W. Bush’s rightwing swerve when Pat Buchanan rebelled in 1992. Each time, the frontrunners felt forced to placate loyalists they should have been able to take for granted, while embracing extreme positions that haunted them during the general election campaign.

This year replayed that Insurgent’s Vampire Effect. Clinton expected to inherit the nomination without serious opponents. Joe Biden and John Kerry, each of whom sees a potential president whenever he looks in the mirror, didn’t run, deferring to the Clintons’ power in the party and to Hillary Clinton’s claim that it was “our time” as women to win the presidency—an appeal that, surprisingly, bored younger women.

As an independent, Sanders lacked such loyalty. His hip campaign addressed the displaced and disempowered, claiming Hillary Clinton was the problem not the solution. In response, Hillary Clinton channeled Walter Mondale in 1984, desperately appealing to different special interests. Characteristically, after winning Super Tuesday, she declared: “We have to defend all our rights—workers’ rights, and women’s rights, civil rights and voting rights, LGBT rights and rights for people with disabilities.” This pluralistic appeal failed to offer a unifying national mission. It illustrated Donald Trump’s complaint that Democrats were so busy kowtowing to minorities they neglected the white majority and the nation’s need for consensus.

Having catered to the millennial and minority sensibility in the spring, Hillary Clinton missed the mainstream, failing to recalibrate for the fall. This misread was most apparent in her neglect of her greatest political ally, Bill Clinton, and his legacy. In the 1990s, President Clinton shrewdly led from the center, forging a “Third Way” progressivism more balanced than the big-government, special interest group-oriented liberalism which Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush handily defeated in the 1980s. Clintonite centrism embraced free trade as bringing prosperity not exporting jobs. Clinton fought crime, framing it as threat to all Americans, especially blacks. Clinton reformed welfare to restore governmental credibility and recipients’ dignity. Clinton talked candidly about restructuring the economy while rebuilding traditional culture, because too many Americans felt they were “living in the funhouse.”

Troy, of course, is just the latest in a host of contributions from academics, pundits, and politicians who have spent the last week trying to come up with reasons why Hillary Clinton lost the election and we’re likely to get more of these post-mortems in the future, especially when the seemingly inevitable books by campaign insiders and reporters start coming out sometime next year. No doubt, there will be plenty of stories from inside the campaign that will tell us whether or not there was infighting over this issue or that regarding the outcome of the election. In many cases, though, what you’ll be hearing will be coming from people who have an agenda to push, and this is especially true when it comes to blaming forces outside the campaign for the loss. More often than not, these theories about outside forces tend to downplay failures by the campaign itself, which strikes me as mistaken given the fact that, ultimately, a winning or losing campaign can often be blamed on mistakes that the campaign itself made, faults about the candidate, or simply the fact that the campaign was fighting a more difficult uphill battle than many assumed. In the case of Clinton’s 2016 campaign, the temptation to blame outside forces seems natural given the fact that, right up until Election Night itself, all the signs pointed to at least a moderately strong Clinton victory that never materialized. In retrospect, it’s becoming clear that the odds of a Clinton victory were probably being overestimated by pollsters and analysts alike, and apparently by people inside the Clinton campaign itself. In the case of Troy’s theory that Clinton lost because Sanders pushed her too far left, we have an argument that is likely to sit well with Clinton loyalists, and it also fits in well with the ongoing battle for the future direction of the Democratic Party. For that reason, I’m sure that Troy’s theory that Bernie Sanders pulled Clinton too far to the left to win will gain a lot of support among Clinton supporters and others who don’t want to look inward for an explanation for the loss. The question is whether there’s any actual merit to the argument.

In some sense, it’s true that the surprisingly strong challenge that Sanders gave Clinton in early primary states probably did push her to the left on some issues, but it’s hard to say definitively that it was this that led to Clinton’s defeat. For example, Sanders’ challenge is credited, or blamed depending on how you look at it, for causing Clinton to change her position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which she was enthusiastically for while Secretary of State and came out against once Sanders pushed her on the issue, or for her to become more vocal in her focus on issues such as income inequality, the minimum wage, or the economic well-being of the middle class. The interesting thing about this election, though, is that Trump articulated many of the same positions that Sanders allegedly ‘forced’ Clinton to change on. For example, Trump was speaking out against TPP and other trade deals long before Clinton changed her position on that issue and while he was leading in the race for the Republican nomination. Additionally, it now seems clear that one of the many reasons that Trump was able to capture working-class votes in states such as Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, states that Republicans had not won in Presidential elections in years, was because he was going against GOP orthodoxy on international trade and playing into the sentiment among voters in those states that they had ended up with a raw deal when it came to international trade. Arguably then, it was Clinton’s original position on TPP that harmed her in these states, not the change she made in response to the Sanders threat. In fact, many of Trump’s criticisms during the campaign, such as his attacks on her for ties to Wall Street, the millions she made from speeches that were paid by entities such as Goldman Sachs, and his attacks on what seemed to many people like a ‘pay for play’ arrangement involving donations to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary served as Secretary of State, echoed attacks from Sanders that Clinton never really found an effective answer to. The fact that these attacks were coming from a businessman who has frequently interacted with many of the same entities that Clinton did just underscores the importance of all the other flaws that Clinton had.

Another area where Sanders frequently criticized Clinton during the primaries was on foreign policy. Both in his stump speeches and in debates, Sanders would hit Clinton quite effectively over her initial support for the Iraq War, for her advocacy of American involvement in Libya, and for her support for an even broader American role in the Syrian civil war and the fight against ISIS. This is also an area where Trump was arguably campaigning to the left of Clinton, although it’s unclear how much the election turned on these issues. Like Sanders, Trump criticized Clinton for her support for the Iraq War, her backing of the misadventure in Libya in 2011, and her advocacy of positions that would lead to a wider American involvement in Syria. Based on the polls, it seems clear that Sanders and Trump were more in line with the public here than Clinton was, so it wasn’t surprising that their message(s) resonated with the public. Again though, it’s hard to say that Sanders hurt Clinton to the extent he pushed her to the left on foreign policy when she ended up running against a Republican that was almost as far to the left as Sanders was. If Clinton was forced to move to the left on foreign policy, it arguably should have helped her. The fact that it didn’t suggests that she lost for reasons that have little or nothing to do with Bernie Sanders.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. grumpy realist says:

    Oh come ON…..

  2. Pch101 says:

    If there was a spoiler effect in the election, then it was Johnson taking votes from the Republicans.

    I’ve been looking at Wisconsin numbers. Trump won a whopping 800 more votes than Romney, and he lost a lot of votes in the cities, so his rural gains were offset by metro-area losses and Johnson defectors.

    Compared to 2012, the combined vote for the major party candidates was down in every single county but one. It’s difficult to claim that there was a surge of Trump enthusiasm.

    I suspect that someone such as Kasich would have won more popular votes, as a lot of the Johnson voters, Republican no shows and defectors to Clinton would have stuck with Kasich.

    Democrats are more dependent on turnout than Republicans, and that didn’t come through. Obama simply won a lot more votes than Clinton. Time to figure out why.

  3. george says:

    Sanders acting as spoiler? As grumpy said, “Oh come ON”.

    And I agree with Pch101 about what spoiler there was, and how the turn out killed Clinton. Tho I suspect Pch is going to reconsider after getting my agreement.

  4. grumpy realist says:

    From all the post-election hashing-of-the-votes I’ve read, the whole thing turned out very simply: Trump’s supporters turned out. Hillary’s supporters didn’t. Plus there wasn’t as much cross-over from white women to support Hillary as everyone had thought would occur.

  5. al-Alameda says:

    I think the more interesting spoilers were:

    (1) Over 2 years of multiple Republican investigations into HRC’s Benghazi and Email Server, taking us into election season. They had the desired Republican effect of damaging her candidacy.

    (2) James Comey’s two plays to the Republican Party – one at the last minute – that kept alive the ‘she might be involved in criminal misconduct’ play.

  6. HarvardLaw92 says:
  7. pylon says:

    The one thing Sanders and his supporters did that hurt HRC in the general was to cast aspersions on her ethics. If you take Sanders’ repeated references to speech transcripts and substitute emails, you get a lot of the Trump message. The speeches IMO were always a big nothingburger (probably because I’ve been at a bunch of conferences with just those kind of speeches – they are generally devoid of controversy). Just like the emails.

    Basically Sanders implied she was corrupt. Trump picked up that ball and ran with it. Some Sanders suporters couldn’t let it go either.

    So, no, he didn’t spoil like Nader, but he generated at least some of the lack of enthusiasm with what were, in my view, unwarranted attacks on ethics based on nothing more than legal speaking engagements.

  8. al-Alameda says:

    Excellent piece, thanks.

    This is from the piece:

    In other words, the argument that the DNC rigged the debates is, by any rational analysis, garbage. For those who still believe it, hats made of tin foil are available on Amazon.

  9. Pch101 says:


    The CNN exit polls show Democratic cross-party defection rates were in line with historical norms. So there wasn’t much of a loss of Democratic voters to other candidates.

    If Sanders had an impact on the election, then its effect would most likely be reflected in the reduced turnout numbers. Of course, exit polls don’t measure those who didn’t bother to show up, so data will be needed to know why the no-shows and abstainers acted as they did.

    Judging from the exit poll sentiment, a lot of Trump voters were unhappy Republicans who voted for him, anyway. For all of the talk about Johnson, a lot of the supposed defectors didn’t stick to their guns when push came to shove.

  10. Todd says:

    Sanders voters may not have had a direct effect on the election day tally (as in Sanders/Stein took votes that Clinton would have gotten). But as someone who knows a few Bernie or busters I can tell you for a fact that they enthusiastically spread every single bit of anti-Clinton news well after the primaries were over. For instance, when I saw Wikileaks stories in my social media feeds, they came from one of two types of friends: Breitbart loving Trump supporters or delusional progressives who still imagined Bernie swooping in to become President.

    I obviously can’t say it’s a fact, but it does feel like the hard core Sanders supporters at least contributed to the depressed turnout … although the majority of the blame for that still rests with Hillary Clinton herself.

  11. Rick Zhang says:

    I disagree. As many have noted, Trump won about the same # of votes as Romney, though distributed more towards battleground states. Hillary simply failed to match Obama’s turnout. While she did gain in hard blue states on the coasts, she also gained in red states like Texas, Arizona, and Georgia, but not enough to shift those. The cost of doing so was losing the Midwest. Transition periods are tough and the dems are simply going through one at the moment.

    Furthermore, I’m not sure that Hillary tacking to the center would have helped. Partisanship trumps policy, and though Paul Ryan and Jeb Bush are closer to Hillary than they are to Trump (in temperament and policy), they would rather vote for someone with an R after their name. You can argue that Bernie by being to the left in the primary prevented Hillary from occupying the same ground with as much authenticity, dampening enthusiasm among her base. With as divided a country as we have today, it’s all about appealing to the base and turnout. Triangulating and moving to the center is a death sentence when ballot splitting doesn’t happen much anymore.

  12. Paul Hooson says:

    No. Nader was a third party candidate that divided the more liberal votes in some states, while Bernie Sanders was an honest candidate who presented an alternative to the ethics challenged Clinton. Polls suggested that Sanders might have been more electable than Clinton who would face a tough time in an election because of ethics questions and “Clinton fatigue”. “Bush fatigue” helped to derail Jeb Bush early in process, where voters would not consider Jeb Bush because of father and brother’s weak performances in office with the economy and their getting the country involved in Mideast wars.

    Sanders might have attracted more voters than Clinton did, acting as an effective counter to Trump for working people as well as honest, but it is unclear whether his socialist views might have become a general election liability. Maybe the best hope Democrats had this year to win would have been to choose Sanders or to go with Biden. I feared that Clinton could not win the general election against any Republican candidate except maybe Trump. But, I think Sanders had a real possible path to victory, and could have kept the Rust Belt blue.

  13. gVOR08 says:

    Nut picking. McGill? Not even an American nut. So this is about why it’s Bernie’s fault. We’ve seen a hundred articles and blog posts on why it’s Hillary’s fault, or Wasserman-Schultz, or Black people. In another thread I mentioned how close this election fits the Bartel’s model which assumes candidates and policy have little or no effect. Hillary actually beat Bartel’s model by 1%. After two terms it’s almost a coin flip which nominee wins. So let’s put the blame for this squarely where it belongs, on Republicans.

    Doug, in an earlier post, reminded us of past R presidents. Two of the last three were disasters (I’m ignoring Ford, as one should). Doug and James both announced they’d vote for the dreaded Hillary rather than Trump, so it seems fair to assume R presidents will go three for four. The real problem is the R nominating process. Why is no one addressing this? It’s not like we have a shortage of pundits in this country.

  14. Anonne says:

    Hillary Clinton lost because of the perception that she is not trustworthy. That isn’t Bernie Sanders’ fault that she has such a perception. And it’s important to note that this perception was strongly aided, abetted and even fostered by the media. They spent so much time on the emails that the only Trump scandal that registered was the Access Hollywood video.

    Her shifts to the left didn’t help her because they would have been seen as insincere; had she pivoted back on the TPP she would have lost both left and right, and right was never with her in the first place on the TPP. She would have been regarded as insincere no matter how you slice it.

    Even so, there were more PUMAs than Bernie or Bust people. But then, that is according to polls and this election showed how much polls are worth. It’s not clear how many Bernie or Bust people stayed home or didn’t vote on the top block of the ballot. Her problems with sincerity didn’t stop the fact that she won the popular vote. From national numbers, she’s inside the margin of error on polling but our elections are not national per se. She needed to do more at a granular, state level with rural voters. It just didn’t happen, and any delusional person making excuses ought to recognize that. Her favorables never passed 48%, which is where she is topping out in the tally.

    When looking for blame, she ought look in the mirror. Yes, Comey’s meddling likely had an effect but it is impossible to know if it was enough in the rural areas, if it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I feel bad for her, but she was playing for a marginal win anyway.

  15. Pch101 says:


    The throw-out-the-bums thesis doesn’t really work here. Of those who voted, Republicans behaved like Republicans and Democrats behaved like Democrats.

    This was a fairly typical election in many ways, Gary Johnson and voter discontent notwithstanding. There are more Democrats than Republicans, but Republicans are more loyal. Meanwhile, independents tend to skew slightly Republican. As is usually the case, Democrats really need turnout in order to hurdle those barriers.

    As for the GOP primary, it was engineered to limit the influence of crazy Southerners. There was a presumption that the Northeast was the party’s source of stability and establishment influence, but that logic was tossed out the window when the Northeast produced a wingnut populist who faced no coherent opposition. A superdelegate system may have been able to prevent this.

  16. pylon says:

    @Pch101: Exit polls only poll people who exited, not those who weren’t there at all, which was part of the Bernie effect. Especially in the states that counted.

  17. pylon says:


    “Hillary Clinton lost because of the perception that she is not trustworthy. That isn’t Bernie Sanders’ fault that she has such a perception.”

    Bernie certainly didn’t do anything to correct that perception. Primaries need to be run on the basis that one of the candidates will win, and that candidate certainly needs to be supported by the losers. I’m all for vigourous policy debate, or arguments that one is more experienced, charismatic or otherwise better suited, but smears based on “what did she say in her speeches” or “she’s rigging the nomination” just give fodder to the other party.

  18. ctrl-z says:

    Hard to figure how the most unpopular Democratic Presidential candidate in polling history could have lost the election.

    Maybe in a few decades experts will have reached a conclusion.

  19. Lounsbury says:

    @ctrl-z: Rather.

    Couldn’t have been that, surprise, surprise, one does rather need someone with proper charisma. It is not Bernie Sanders was a Nader, it is she was a Mondale or a Dukakis.

    One need not think of the woman as a bad person (or vice versa think she is a good person) to allow she was simply never a good campaigner and had no proper campaigning charisma.

  20. Pch101 says:


    According to the vote count, she was more popular than the winner.

  21. Grewgills says:

    Clinton’s campaign died a death of a thousand cuts. Some of that damage was from bernie bros who continued the primary campaign against her into the general helping to depress democratic turnout. Comey didn’t help. The press treating her email as equivalent to all of Trump’s many corrupt and odious practices hurt her too. Her paranoia (mostly honestly earned) fueling her reactions to the email and other issues hurt her at least as much if not more than any of those. I could go on, but the list is pretty easy to suss out. Trying to ascribe her loss to any one decisive factor is a fool’s errand.

  22. gVOR08 says:


    The throw-out-the-bums thesis doesn’t really work here. Of those who voted, Republicans behaved like Republicans and Democrats behaved like Democrats.

    Yes the Rs voted for the guy from the R tribe and the Ds voted for the woman from the D tribe. As always. Our polarization is so complete and so even that our prez elections now turn 4 or 5 points, 7 if the economy is really bad. Bartels would say that 3/4 of that swing is driven by basics, not the horse race stuff. Hillary was able to beat the Bartels model by maybe 1.5%. Bad luck in the distribution of a very few of those votes cost her the EC.

    In 2000, I think, Rove said it would be a turnout election. They’re all turnout elections now. This is where the swing happens. This time Black turnout reverted to normal after the highs of ’08 and ’12, white rural turnout was up, driven by this being a “change election”. We have a change election pretty much every eight years.

    Yes, a GOP superdelegate system would help. Then they have to do something about the down ballot primaries and their tendency to select the biggest RWNJ.

  23. Tyrell says:

    Hillary had promised to release the classified files about the ufo investigations. I had doubts whether she would actually be allowed to do that, but I guess that is over now. We were hoping.

  24. Pch101 says:


    I don’t think that change per se is the issue.

    I’ll offer this thesis: Hope is more motivating than hate, but hate is more motivating than fear.

    I realize that fear and hate are opposite sides of the same coin. However, fear is defensive, while hatred encourages people to lash out.

    The Democrats can be very good at hope, but the Republicans are better at hate. Clinton tried to get her voters to fear Trump, but fearful voters are less inspired to show up even if they don’t care for the opposition.

    If Clinton couldn’t be a seller of hope, then she should have sold hate, instead. You need a small but meaningful percentage of your supporters to detest the opposition so much that they want to destroy them and beat them into submission. Hence, the need for nasty, no-prisoners language.

    Honestly, Clinton would have been better off if she had called Trump names. It’s not enough to say that he is a bad person; you have to act like you really mean it.

  25. ctrl-z says:

    @Pch101: “According to the vote count, she was more popular than the winner.”

    But not where it counted.

  26. Tyrell says:

    The theory that I am proposing* is that the Southern strategy of the Democratic party was a big factor. The party leadership should come up with new ideas to reach out to the southern states and restore the party to one of power in the south the way it used to be.
    * I will work on this proposal after I do more research, but right now it is low on the list of projects.

  27. Monala says:

    @Pch101: That makes sense. I really liked her campaign slogan, “Stronger Together,” but the only time I recall it being emphasized was at the DNC convention. The rest of the time I recall more about Trump’s issues, or “I’m with Her” (which I don’t particularly care for as a slogan). I think Clinton could have built so much more on the theme of Stronger Together, and come back to that theme again and again at each debate, speech, campaign ad, etc.

  28. Pch101 says:


    Framing the election as a unpopular Democrat against a popular Republican is revisionist bulls**t. Be honest about what it was.

  29. Pch101 says:


    “Stronger Together” was a bit meh. “Making America Great Again” is cheesy but ultimately more compelling (although I personally find it to be tedious, but whatever.)

    But I’m not talking about slogans, but nastiness when engaging the opponent. Angry people like nasty. That’s what they refer to as “straight talk”.

    Instead of attacking Trump supporters as “deplorables”, she should have called him names. (She was right about those people, but it wasn’t smart to say it. Their votes count, too.) A woman probably has to be a bit more careful with that sort of thing, but that doesn’t mean that a woman should avoid it.

  30. Todd says:


    Her paranoia (mostly honestly earned) fueling her reactions to the email and other issues hurt her at least as much if not more than any of those.

    That’s the greatest irony. To me, the most believable story about the private email server is that she set it up in the first place with the hope of making it more difficult for Republicans (and the press) to comb through her SoS emails and possibly take things out of context to try hurt her politically.

    Did. not. quite. work. out. as. planned.

  31. ctrl-z says:

    @Pch101: “Framing the election as a unpopular Democrat against a popular Republican is revisionist bulls**t. Be honest about what it was.”

    Look, I know you DNC apologists want to blame it on a sudden upsurge in bigotry and misogyny, but that ignores the fact Obama was elected twice and women voted for Trump.

    Clinton was historically unpopular and came into the election carrying a lot of baggage. In an election where it was obvious people were unhappy with the status quo and Wall Street, she represented ‘incremental change” and Wall Street.

    If the Dems ran anyone but Clinton there’s a good chance Trump would have been defeated, but no, the DNC and Democratic officials schemed and cheated to make sure Clinton got the nomination.

    Even with that, it’s quite possible without voter suppression/election fraud on the part of Republicans Clinton might have won – but it should never have been close enough to let them steal it in the first place.

    Clinton was a monumentally bad candidate and the responsibility for her loss rests with her and the Democratic Party establishment.

  32. Todd says:


    If Clinton couldn’t be a seller of hope, then she should have sold hate, instead. You need a small but meaningful percentage of your supporters to detest the opposition so much that they want to destroy them and beat them into submission. Hence, the need for nasty, no-prisoners language.

    NO! NO! NO!

    This attitude is basically what has turned our politics so toxic in the first place … and in some ways it’s also what turned Hillary Clinton from just a flawed candidate into a fatally flawed candidate … because it doesn’t stay confined to just the general election, it bleeds over into the primaries too. If we make out all of our political opponents to be the “enemy”, it’s hardly surprising that it becomes much harder for many people to then turn around and support them as the next best option after the “only good guy” has lost.

    Even in the general election, it’s a horrible idea. Our country has survived as long as it has for one simple reason … we have a peaceful transfer of power after our elections.

    … and please don’t come back with “but the Republicans did it first”. That’s the kind of answer we can expect from 6 year olds on the playground, not grown ass adults.

  33. Ratufa says:


    “Stronger Together” was a bit meh. “Making America Great Again” is cheesy but ultimately more compelling (although I personally find it to be tedious, but whatever.)

    Yep. Trump had a consistent and effective theme for his campaign that was about what he could do for voters, particularly voters who weren’t happy with the status quo. There were a lot of voters who felt that way, and many of them were in rust belt battleground states.. After the first debate, Clinton’s campaign commercials increasingly just talked about Trump. Perhaps it would have helped if she’d been more nasty, like you said, but out-nastying Donald Trump and Steve Bannon would not have been an easy task.

    While we can’t be sure anything would have changed the outcome, Hillary could have devoted a lot more ad time to say what her Presidency would do to help people. Instead, after the two previous Democratic Presidents won elections by talking about hope, Trump became the candidate of hope and change. His final ad to that effect was powerful, particularly compared to the weak tea of Hillary’s final ad:


    Yeah, there were some dog whistles in the Trump ad (OTB has discussed them previously), but they are subtle enough that most voters won’t notice them, and the ad was effective without them.

  34. Pch101 says:


    You’ve summarized why I can’t be a Democrat. You enjoy defeat too much.

    The GOP does this stuff because you won’t fight back. You’re aiding and abetting them by allowing them to get away with it.

    They are bullies, and bullies only respect force. Laying down and taking it only makes it worse, as you are giving them no incentive to stop and every reason to continue. They see these olive branches as signs of weakness, and they believe that the weak get what they deserve.

  35. Pch101 says:


    To be fair, it’s much tougher for the party in power to run on an upbeat change platform after two consecutive terms. So while there have to be upbeat messages, some hate probably should have been the table for Clinton.

    “Deplorable” is not a great insult, either. (Too erudite.)

    The point is to motivate that extra few hundred thousand people or whatever it was that was needed to get her over the top. It’s niche marketing — it isn’t intended to win over everyone, and not everyone on her side is going to like it.

  36. Todd says:

    @Pch101: I’m not a Democrat either.

    In fact, I have no idea where I fit into our current political landscape.

    From my perspective we have one party that is relatively good at “politics” but horrible at governing. Opposed by a party that is arguably better at governing, but hopelessly inept when it comes to modern politics.

    I also don’t disagree with you at all about the bully analogy in regards to Republicans in general and conservatives in particular. Democrats obviously need to adopt a different (more effective) way to respond. But mirroring the behavior is definitely not the answer.

    Our politics is so broken right now because we don’t have nearly enough good-faith compromise anymore. The “both sides do it” argument is generally BS. Our system is broken primarily because of the actions of Republicans. But making “both sides do it” a more true statement will do absolutely nothing to solve the problem.

  37. Pch101 says:


    Thank you for that display of astoundingly poor reading comprehension. For an illiterate person, you certainly use a lot of words.

  38. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    It’s interesting to me that GOTV was supposed to be a strength of the Clinton campaign, but in the end it went totally flat. In my mind it calls into question how valuable all that effort was–enthusiastic Trump supporters showed up (despite his crappy GOTV efforts), and meh Clinton voters didn’t, despite the vaunted Democratic ground game. So in the end, even though turnout overall was down across the board, Hillary lost more Obama voters than Trump lost Romney voters.

  39. Pch101 says:


    If you want to remove a tumor, then you need to use a knife and cut it out.

    Being nice to the tumor and hoping that you can inspire it to become something better won’t make it go away, and will lead to the death of the patient.

    If you want to fix things, then you need to start by winning the election and not settling for second place. If you can’t do that, then it won’t matter what you think.

  40. Todd says:

    @Pch101: Ok … except for the fact that a lot of people (including me) don’t want to be on the “winning” side that acts like that anymore than we like being on the “losing” side.

    I’m normally a pretty optimistic person. But when it comes to politics in our country, I see no real evidence that we’re not all screwed in the end.

    Ideologically I might be more apt to agree with one over the other, but when you get right down to it, an intolerant left-wing a$$hole really isn’t any better than their counterpart on the right.

  41. ctrl-z says:

    @Pch101: “Thank you for that display of astoundingly poor reading comprehension. For an illiterate person, you certainly use a lot of words.”

    Ah, you’re flying the ad hominem white flag of surrender.

    So much easier than dealing with the actual issues.

    I accept.

  42. Pch101 says:


    Reading skills are helpful in these situations. Your previous response indicates that you don’t have any.

  43. Pch101 says:


    when you get right down to it, an intolerant left-wing a$$hole really isn’t any better than their counterpart on the right.

    You’ll want to rethink that when the Supreme Court gets its next justice.

  44. Stormy Dragon says:

    The Party is outraged that someone would dare question Dear Leader. Anything but immediate and total enthusiasm is obvious proof of treasonous counter-revolutionary tendencies!

  45. MBunge says:

    It’s fascinating to watch the birth of know-nothingism on the Left. It’s nowhere near the “global warming doesn’t exist because Al Gore is fat” denial on the Right but, to be fair, they’ve had a couple decade head start.

    There are always a thousand details but the big picture lessons are fairly obvious.

    1. Run a better candidate.
    2. White votes matter.
    3. Places other than New York, California and Washington DC matter.
    4. Clintonian centrism and a reflexive embrace of the neoliberal order have probably reached the end of their usefulness.

    If you can understand that, you can see the Democratic Party is still in pretty good shape heading into the future. The Left has got to be willing to move toward that future, however.


  46. barbintheboonies says:

    @Todd: I agree with what you said. Just because both sides do it does not make it right. We all need to start pulling together. We have mob mentality now. Some could care less who is right as long as their side wins How crazy is this? I am not Dem. or Rep. either. I feel the same as you I don`t know what I am. The bullying here proves there are no good sides to take. Some pretend they are the good ones, but they are just the ones who may have caused the Democrat party to lose. They only extended their arms to the people that they feel are the less fortunate, but ignored the others that may be in need also. Maybe some day the media will lead them in another direction, because they are not able to think for themselves. They need the likes, and follow like sheep.

  47. Rick Zhang says:


    You know the name of the game now is rule or die. The Republicans showed that obstructionism and lying produce frustration among ignorant voters, which can be easily channeled/directed against the political opposition. This is how you get people to vote against their economic interests. Woe to the blue collar Trump supporters who find out that instead of ripping up trade deals, they get more tax cuts for the rich and a gutting of the social safety net.

    Obama’s greatest fault was in trying to reach across the aisle and compromise with a hostile opposition when he didn’t need to. These days, politics is about stomping your opposition into the ground without mercy. When you’re in power, appropriate their best policies and steal their voters. When they’re in power, obstruct like hell. The dems should take a page out of the GOP playbook and endlessly hammer the Trump presidency from day 1. Don’t give him a honeymoon period. Bludgeon him with every misstep. The economy is undoubtedly due for a correction soon after a historic run up. Hammer him with that. Tie the noose of a recession around his head.

  48. george says:


    I’ll offer this thesis: Hope is more motivating than hate, but hate is more motivating than fear.

    Actually that seems to describe this election remarkably well. Both sides had their usual team voters who’d vote the same way no matter who their candidate was. Clinton tried to reach the remainder with fear (of Trump), Trump with hate. And hate trumped fear.

    I guess that is often how human’s work – if people are angry enough they’ll do some pretty dangerous and stupid things. Fear makes people cautious, anger makes them take chances.

  49. ctrl-z says:

    @Pch101: Doubling down on ad hominem nonsense simply makes you look twice as bad. Or maybe worse. Might be an exponential increase.

    But please feel free to continue exhibiting what you represent.

  50. Pch101 says:


    When your teachers gave you lousy grades, it was because your work was poor, not because they were attacking you personally.

    I’m giving you a failing grade because your lengthy response made it quite clear that you had no idea what I had said. For the most part, I made the opposite points that you claimed that I had made.

    And you still haven’t figured that out after almost a day has passed, so I can only conclude that you’re not too bright and that your reading skills are too weak to overpower your mouth.

  51. Pch101 says:


    People and other animals respond to fear by hiding and running away. Anger makes them stop and fight. In this case, fighting=voting.

  52. the Q says:

    So if voting for someone other than Hillary elected Trump, then what about the executive order which threatened to cut off federal educational funding to states which did not allow TGs to make the call on their bathroom of choice. You know, like that 8 year old in North Carolina who was denied the use of the women’s stall. Then Obama threatening to withhold federal funds. Then the NBA cancelling the All Star game.

    Maybe pursuing a completely trivial issue which affects less people than get killed by lightening just might have pissed off enough Carolinians to cost us the state and senate there.

    Stop Hillary supporters with your pathetic blame game. And stop with rationalizing the very real corruption of the Clintons.

    Many in the party suggested how problematic it would be to run the most unpopular candidate in Dem history who was under an active FBI investigation. Geez, what could possibly go wrong loons?

    How about losing to a lunatic? And you still cling to the “Bernie would have lost” too bullschitt?

    Maybe now with the results, some of you neolibs will take your head out of your arses and start seeing the reality of how destructive the Clintons have been to the party. NAFTA and gutting Glass Steagall I guess wasn’t enough for some of you neolibs.

    The GOP now has control of 67 out of the 98 state legislatures, thats a record for them. That means they control the gerrymandering etc.

    And you idiots will blame Bernie on losing those states too right?

    I get how stupid, ignorant racists can back Trump, I shake my head at most of you who supported Hillary knowing her checkered past and her complete lack of empathy and campaign skills as a candidate. We have never been closer to a Dem Socialist President and the irony is the neolibs were the one’s stopping it with their Hillary slurping.

    Not to mention the server issue which she handled incredibly poorly…and the shilling for money to the banksters etc.

    Hope when one of you neolibs see a TG use whatever bathroom he/she wants you smile and say to yourself, “yes, seeing that makes it alright that we lost the Supreme Court for a generation.”

  53. the Q says:

    PS, please don’t compare or conflate the TG issue with Jim Crow, civil rights, or with the ADA or gay marriage.

  54. wr says:

    @the Q: Shorter Q: How dare they pay attention to an issue that does not directly affect me!

  55. dxq says:

    Financial stocks up 10.6% since the election; non-financials up less than 1%

  56. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pch101: You don’t appear to be very good at recognizing when someone has rejected your argument. I’ve noticed that in the past, too.