Why Did Clinton Lose The Election? Perhaps The Blame Lies With Her Own Campaign
Hillary Clinton's national campaign wasn't nearly as well-organized as we'd been led to believe.
Edward-Isaac Dovere has an interesting look at the Hillary Clinton campaign in Michigan, a story which arguably demonstrates one of the primary reasons how it is that Clinton ended up losing the industrial Midwest and, with it, the election:
Everybody could see Hillary Clinton was cooked in Iowa. So when, a week-and-a-half out, the Service Employees International Union started hearing anxiety out of Michigan, union officials decided to reroute their volunteers, giving a desperate team on the ground around Detroit some hope.
They started prepping meals and organizing hotel rooms.
SEIU — which had wanted to go to Michigan from the beginning, but been ordered not to — dialed Clinton’s top campaign aides to tell them about the new plan. According to several people familiar with the call, Brooklyn was furious.
Turn that bus around, the Clinton team ordered SEIU. Those volunteers needed to stay in Iowa to fool Donald Trump into competing there, not drive to Michigan, where the Democrat’s models projected a 5-point win through the morning of Election Day.
Michigan organizers were shocked. It was the latest case of Brooklyn ignoring on-the-ground intel and pleas for help in a race that they felt slipping away at the end.
“They believed they were more experienced, which they were. They believed they were smarter, which they weren’t,” said Donnie Fowler, who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee during the final months of the campaign. “They believed they had better information, which they didn’t.”
Flip Michigan and leave the rest of the map, and Trump is still president-elect. But to people who worked in that state and others, how Clinton won the popular vote by 2.8 million votes and lost by 100,000 in states that could have made her president has everything to do with what happened in Michigan. Trump won the state despite getting 30,000 fewer votes than George W. Bush did when he lost it in 2004.
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).
“I’ve never seen a campaign like this,” said Virgie Rollins, a Democratic National Committee member and longtime political hand in Michigan who described months of failed attempts to get attention to the collapse she was watching unfold in slow-motion among women and African-American millennials.
Michigan operatives relay stories like one about an older woman in Flint who showed up at a Clinton campaign office, asking for a lawn sign and offering to canvass, being told these were not “scientifically” significant ways of increasing the vote, and leaving, never to return. A crew of building trade workers showed up at another office looking to canvass, but, confused after being told there was no literature to hand out like in most campaigns, also left and never looked back.
“There’s this illusion that the Clinton campaign had a ground game. The deal is that the Clinton campaign could have had a ground game,” said a former Obama operative in Michigan. “They had people in the states who were willing to do stuff. But they didn’t provide people anything to do until GOTV.”
The only metric that people involved in the operations say they ever heard headquarters interested in was how many volunteer shifts had been signed up — though the volunteers were never given the now-standard handheld devices to input the responses they got in the field, and Brooklyn mandated that they not worry about data entry. Operatives watched packets of real-time voter information piled up in bins at the coordinated campaign headquarters. The sheets were updated only when they got ripped, or soaked with coffee. Existing packets with notes from the volunteers, including highlighting how much Trump inclination there was among some of the white male union members the Clinton campaign was sure would be with her, were tossed in the garbage.
The Brooklyn command believed that television and limited direct mail and digital efforts were the only way to win over voters, people familiar with the thinking at headquarters said. Guided by polls that showed the Midwestern states safer, the campaign spent, according to one internal estimate, about 3 percent as much in Michigan and Wisconsin as it spent in Florida, Ohio and North Carolina. Most voters in Michigan didn’t see a television ad until the final week.
Most importantly, multiple operatives said, the Clinton campaign dismissed what’s known as in-person “persuasion” — no one was knocking on doors trying to drum up support for the Democratic nominee, which also meant no one was hearing directly from voters aside from voters they’d already assumed were likely Clinton voters, no one tracking how feelings about the race and the candidates were evolving. This left no information to check the polling models against — which might have, for example, showed the campaign that some of the white male union members they had expected to be likely Clinton voters actually veering toward Trump — and no early warning system that the race was turning against them in ways that their daily tracking polls weren’t picking up.
People involved in the Michigan campaign still can’t understand why Brooklyn stayed so sure of the numbers in a state that it also had projected Clinton would win in the primary.
“Especially given what happened in the primary,” said Michigan Democratic Party chairman Brandon Dillon. “We knew that there was going to have to be more attention.”
With Clinton’s team ignoring or rejecting requests, Democratic operatives in Michigan and other battleground states might have turned to the DNC. But they couldn’t; they weren’t allowed to ask for help.
On the morning of Election Day, internal Clinton campaign numbers had her winning Michigan by 5 points. By 1 p.m., an aide on the ground called headquarters; the voter turnout tracking system they’d built themselves in defiance of orders — Brooklyn had told operatives in the state they didn’t care about those numbers, and specifically told them not to use any resources to get them — showed urban precincts down 25 percent. Maybe they should get worried, the Michigan operatives said.
Nope, they were told. She was going to win by 5. All Brooklyn’s data said so.
In at least one of the war rooms in New York, they’d already started celebratory drinking by the afternoon, according to a person there. Elsewhere, calls quietly went out that day to tell key people to get ready to be asked about joining transition teams.
But an hour-and-a-half after polls closed, Clinton aides began making rushed calls, redrawing paths to 270 through the single electoral vote in Maine and Nebraska. Still assuming wins in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Michigan suddenly looked like the state that was going to decide the presidency.
And the rest, of course, is history.
If you’re going to do a post-mortem on Clinton’s campaign and how a campaign that just days before Election Day seemed like a sure winner ended up losing in the Electoral College notwithstanding the fact that they would end up with the majority of the meaningless popular vote, there are few better places to start than Michigan. Along with its sister states in the industrial Midwest, this is a state that Democrats had won consistently and strongly ever since the Election of 1992 even while Republicans managed to win at the state level and much of the union base that formed the core of Democratic support faded away along with the businesses they had once worked in. Indeed, if you take just three states in this region — Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania — you find that Clinton only lost by a combined 77,744 votes, or just 0.60% (rounded) of the combined votes cast in all three states. That difference was enough, though, to give these states, and their forty-six Electoral Votes, to Trump and that was enough for him to win the election. Had the results in just these states been different even by a small margin, then those votes would have gone to Clinton and we’d be talking about the Clinton transition team and her incoming Administration, and Donald Trump would have been relegated back to being just another guy with a Twitter account. Given all of that, exploring what went wrong in these traditionally Democratic states could be a good guide to figuring out how it is that Hillary Clinton lost an election that seemed perfectly aligned for her to win and make history as the first female President of the United States.
Reading through the Politico article in full, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in the issue of how on-the-ground campaigning can impact election outcomes, one sees the story of a national campaign that wasn’t nearly as organized as it appeared to be from the outside. The candidate failing to show up for an important United Auto Workers event in the state, for example, seems like a dumb mistake in light of the fact that both the UAW and AFSCME, traditionally supporters of Democratic candidates, were also not enlisted in get out of the vote efforts. Turning down help from SEIU and other allies who were actually on the ground and could see signs of trouble in the state that weren’t evident in the polling, for example, seems incredibly foolish on the part of the national campaign, but it pales in comparison to the reports of piles of campaign literature for get out the vote efforts that was never handed out and disorganization at local campaign offices to such an extent that lists of potential supporters to target in those efforts. If there was one area where it seemed all along as though Clinton’s campaign was far superior to Trump’s, it was in the get out the vote (GOTV) effort and the ability to get people to the polls. Supposedly, this effort had its roots in the GOTV campaigns that Barack Obama’s campaign used in 2008 and 2012, which proved to be far superior to the efforts of John McCain and Mitt Romney in both of those elections. Additionally, the reporting seems to indicate that the Clinton campaign actually believed that the fact that Donald Trump was visiting states like Michigan more frequently than Clinton was during the course of the campaign was somehow working to their advantage, a calculation that seems puzzling even if you ignore the fact that Trump ended up winning the state. By October, it should have been clear to everyone that the election was going to end up being far closer than anyone believed when it started and, in such an environment, making sure you hold on to your base states would seem to be a wise strategy. Instead, though, the national campaign office in Brooklyn decided that Michigan was nothing to worry about and seemed to spend more time late in the campaign trying to pull off a win in traditionally red states such as Georgia, Arizona, and North Carolina. Most importantly, if these mistakes were being made in Michigan then it’s probable that they were being made in other states as well and that Clinton’s narrow losses in three states she clearly should have won is attributable as much to the fact that Clinton lost due to a campaign that didn’t do what it took to win.
The outcome of the 2016 Presidential election is one that is likely to be studied and debated for years to come, of course, and it’s likely that there will be many hypotheses for what happened and why Clinton lost a perfectly winnable election. To be sure, when the results are narrow enough that a flip of a small number of voters in three states could have changed the outcome, there are likely a number of factors that had a marginal impact on the race that added up to a major impact nationwide. These factors include, but aren’t necessarily limited to, the extent to which the fact that President Obama was not on the ballot impacted voter turnout among traditionally Democratic African-American voters and younger voters of all races, the impact of the James Comey letter regarding the possible discovery of additional emails related to Clinton’s server in the closing week of the campaign, the overall impact of the negative approval ratings for both candidates, and the impact of even minor changes to state election laws on turnout. In considering what happened, though, one should always start by looking at the campaigns themselves, and in that regard, it does appear that Clinton’s campaign was far less organized and professional than it appeared to be from the outside. Whether that’s the fault of the candidate, her top advisers such as people such as Huma Abedin, or the top campaign staff, or a combination of all three, is unknown, but with Clinton supporters still nursing their wounds from November 8th and looking for an explanation of what went wrong, it is perhaps time to look in the mirror if they want to find the party(ies) responsible for that.
Aren’t you aware that the MSM has already decided that the Russkies are to blame for Hillary Clinton losing the election? There’s no debate. Other possibilities will not and shall not be looked into. The die has been cast, the narrative formed. Don’t upset the apple cart. The Russians did it!
Actually, genius, there is a very healthy debate on the Left about how and why and what to do next. In fact that very debate has been raging here in the comments. So you are either completely misinformed. Or dishonest. Your choice. You can come back and admit you were wrong, or you can double down on dishonesty.
Ooooh, I can’t wait to see!
@michael reynolds: Misha, I am talking about the MSM here. Last I checked, you were not part of said MSM.
But please, tell me more about this healthy debate that is going on inside the liberal leaning MSM and among the Democrat intelligentsia as to why Hillary lost that objectively looks into the flaws of the candidate and the party platform.
Speaking of stupid headlines…
It was an election that was decided by less than 70,000 votes in 3 states. There are many “but for” explanations for why Clinton lost. All are true.
If Comey doesn’t issue his letter.
If she has campaigns in the midwest.
If Russia doesn’t hack the DNC and/or Podesta and slowdrip the emails.
If the media actually covers the conflict of interest issues and Trump’s refusal to release tax returns with the same intensity they covered the emails.
If Bernie doesn’t use the same attacks on Clinton that Trump later uses after it is clear that he won’t win.
There has actually been no suggestion that the Russians are the sole reason Clinton lost, that’s a strawman argument being made by Trump lackies and boot-lickers who apparently don’t want an investigation of what appears to be a significant and sophisticated cyberwar attack by Russia.
The essential flaw in Hillary’s campaign was that she had no vision. I realize that sounds amorphous, but you cannot lead a parade unless you have somewhere to take it. Campaigns are essentially story-telling devices and the campaign had no narrative. Without a narrative nothing else will work. You cannot impose your narrative when you have no narrative.
When I can’t quite figure a book out I just start writing. I call it ‘vogueing’ after the Madonna song. You do some character work, you try out voice and person, sketch in some action, and at some point your brain clicks and the narrative forms. Once the narrative thrust is clear, everything else starts to come together. Hillary’s campaign never got past the ‘vogue’ stage.
Did you bother to read the final paragraph of my post?
Yeah, all those lackeys at CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBS. I mean Keith Olberman alone is nothing but a Trump Ball-washer whose latest meltdown about Russian hacking does nothing but help Trump.
This election turned on such a small number of votes in just the right place, that almost any theory of “what went wrong” can claim evidence for its side. But they are all right, and none of them are right.
This in particular looks like a “quants vs hacks” battle that is eternal. This time the hacks have something, since the quants got it wrong. Being 5 points off in Michigan is a big deal. The quants were spot-on 4 years ago, and it’s a lot of the same people this time around, using, presumably the same methods or what they thought were improvements.
I want to know why the quants got it wrong. There’s a systemic error in there, what’s that about? Is anyone looking at this. I have some theories, but mostly it’s talking out of my ass. I’d guess it was the “likely voter” model that was off. I think microtargeting voters via internet ads produced voter turnout in a pattern that was unexpected, and hard to spot using traditional polling methods. Is it possible that microtargeting also depressed Clinton turnout?
These are things people should be looking at. Are they looking at it?
I’m not sure you can really qualify Pennsylvania as a “traditionally Democratic state”. Republicans routinely win state-wide races their for governor or senator and the last two Democratic senators were pro-life.
The same old tired attacks on the media? Man, conservatives really have run out of ideas haven’t they? No wonder you all got beyond an idiot like Trump.
At the Presidential level, Pennsylvania has been reliably Democratic in every election since 1988. The fact that it has gone Republican at the state level several times since then is not anomalous. We’ve seen the same thing in Kentucky, which has been reliably Republican in Presidential elections going back to 1980, with the exception of 1992 and 1996, while at the same time electing Democrats for Governor, Lt. Governor, and other statewide offices, and giving Democrats control of the legislature.
@Doug Mataconis: You cannot deny with any amount of honesty or integrity that everyone and I mean EVERYONE to include the Clinton team, the Obama administration, Harry Reid, et., are running around like chickens with their heads cut off screaming the RUSSIANS DID IT!
But then again, maybe you have no honesty or integrity.
The predictions for Clinton’s voting percentages were generally accurate.
What was missed was the rate of defections from third party candidates to Trump. In essence, a lot of those who were polled who claimed to be Johnson voters decided at the last minute to hold their noses and vote Republican instead.
I can and do deny it, because it didn’t happen.
You need to be getting your news from places other than Breitbart, obviously.
It’s not clear that the quants did get it wrong, it’s just that most people don’t understand statistics at all. If I say there is only a 3% chance of rolling a 2 on a pair of dice, someone rolling a snake eyes doesn’t make me wrong.
Well, I was one of those who figured Clinton would win, if for no other reason than that her opponent was a buffoon/con man/ignoramus/vulgarian, and that would seal the deal for her. Obviously I was wrong. But It’s possible that she and her advisors reached a similar conclusion: that against Trump, she couldn’t lose.
And I noticed here on OTB that many commenters who planned to vote for Clinton were not exactly overwhelmed with enthusiasm for her.
It’s clear now that the campaign was a lot more inept than we assumed, but Clinton’s failure to arouse much excitement even in her supporters may have been a big contributing factor to her loss.
@Doug Mataconis: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/fbi-knew-russia-interference-election-harry-reid-article-1.2906151
Jesus fwcking Christ, have you been living in a vacuum or your mom’s basement for the last week?
@Doug Mataconis: https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/cia-report-russia-acted-to-help-trump-win-the-election/
I’m fairly certain that the above was written by none other than you.
And the money quote
Apparently you write for Breitbart now.
Every single one of these links is about apparent Russian responsibility for the email hacks, not claiming that those hacks, and the information they uncovered, was the sole reason for Clinton’s loss, which is what you said people and “the media” are claiming.
Also, I’m not sure what you think you proved by excerpting from my post on the Russian hacking issue, but it doesn’t address your claim at all. Instead, it says what I, and every person who isn’t a bootlicking Trump supporter, have been saying since this story broke. Namely, that these are serious allegations that demand a full investigation.
You appear to disagree with that opinion for some reason that I sure makes sense to you.
I must admit that if Jack received a public school education, then he is a poster child for its failure. Those of us who support public schools may have some ‘splainin’ to do.
That’s the stuff that stood out the most to me in the story.
According to one section of the story, canvass data sat in an office, not entered into the computer system, for weeks.
I volunteered on the campaign here in Virginia, and I can tell you that canvass and phone data was supposed to be entered the same day it was collected.
I’m dubious that the Russian hacks had a big influence on the election. This was mainly of interest to political junkies and the people who jumped on it the most were GOPers who weren’t going to vote for Clinton anyway. (Not that this obviates the the need for a full and thorough investigation).
I’m a bit reminded of what one of the postdocs in my department said about the 2000 election. You can think of an election as a measurement and every measurement has some degree of “noise”. The 2000 Florida vote was so close it was basically decided by noise. Now noise represents real phenomena — when I see noise in the brightness of a star, I’m seeing the effects of real things like changes in the atmosphere or the voltage of the detector and so on. And if you dig into the noise of an election, you will find real things. In Florida, it was butterfly ballots and strike lists and the state being called while voting was still going on. One of the problems with the post-Florida debate was people wanted to focus on just the noise that favored their candidate (e.g., Democrats on butterfly ballots, GOP on the state being called early).
It seems with 70k votes in three states, we’re starting to dig into noise: things that may have had a real effect but can not be measured with any degree of accuracy. I know Silver thinks Comey’s letter made a difference but there were a LOT of undecideds even a week before the election. The were going to end up voting for someone and I worried, correctly, that that someone would be Trump.
The gripping hand is that it should not have been this close. And I think the article you cite gets into why it was that close: bad decisions, bad management, overconfidence from the top down. Even if Clinton had won, I think (hope) we would still be asking those questions. During the campaign, Clinton asked why she wasn’t up by 50 points. That was actually a good point and maybe she should have pondered it a bit more.
You forgot James Comey, dumb phvck.
I said “stupid headline” not stupid article. 🙂 It was a play off the criticism of the post bashing the Vox headline which ignored the substance of the article in favor of the cheap shot.
That said, I think your final “take” in that paragraph – “that Clinton’s campaign was far less organized and professional than it appeared to be from the outside” – is 20/20 second-guessing at its finest. The reality is that they were organized and professional – and lots of organized and highly competent professionals who were not affiliated with her campaign had reached the exact same conclusions and didn’t disagree on strategy at the time. Favreau and Lovett said as much on the Keepin it 1600 podcast and Steve Schale’s Florida analysis matched the Clinton’s campaign’s. Claiming that the result invalidates the competency of the individuals who worked on the campaign is not a reasoned approach.
There’s a world of difference between believing that Clinton was a favorite to win and believing that she couldn’t lose. The former was justified by the data, the latter not so much. As RCP’s Sean Trende pointed out both before and after the election, there was a level of groupthink settling around a lot of pundits who found the prospect of a Trump victory unimaginable, and they allowed this assumption to color their reading of the polls, where Trump was an underdog but well within striking distance of Clinton. The polling error for the popular vote was actually smaller than in 2012. And commentators like Nate Silver had been noting for months that Trump had an abnormally large chance of winning the electoral college while losing the popular vote.
What did Clinton herself think about all this? After her 2008 primary campaign (when her chief strategist reportedly did not know California awarded its delegates proportionately), I definitely wouldn’t put it past her to have simply assumed she was invincible.
Hillary supporters are adamant that Bernie wouldn’t have beaten Trump because Trump would have brought up the whole “socialist” thing and that would have sunk his candidacy. Perhaps. Perhaps not. Its conjecture. But let’s look at what we do know as 100% fact.
If Bernie runs, these issues and memes DO NOT COME UP:
Emails, active FBI investigation, emails, $160 million in speaker fees for the Clintons, emails, Goldman Sachs transcripts that won’t be released unless every other candidate does it too, CGI contributions from anti gay, anti women kingdoms, emails, most unpopular Dem nominee in history, James Comey, Russian hackers, Weiner, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, emails, no fly zone, NAFTA support, TPP support, Travelgate, Whitewater, server wiping, Huma, aides taking the 5th amendment, “Jail Bernie”, DOMA, 1990s war on black crack, warhawk, Syrian rebel aid, Wall Street coziness, Haiti relief funds, emails, Judicial Watch, “careless handling of classified materials”, pneumonia, stamina, emails, tarmac shooting, Iraq vote, enabler, Gennifer Flowers, Monica, blow jobs, Juanita Broderick, Bill’s bimbos, emails, aloofness, coronation…..
Did I leave anything out slurpers? Keep up the Bernie would have lost bullschitt. He certainly wouldn’t have lost all 4 states like the Hill did – MI, PA, OH and WI
Slurpers in denial with their counter argument….”but, but, socialist, but, but he’s a socialist, no way can a socialist win”….but an unhinged lunatic has been reality TV host can?
Keep deluding yourselves neolibs, keep deluding yourselves.
Apparently you do not understand the meaning of that word.
What a surprise.
Reading the Politico article and drawing on other anecdotes I’ve read/heard, it appears Clinton focused on money and technology to the exclusion of all else, and then focused on hurting Trump as opposed to giving a reason to vote for herself besides…hurting Trump.
A cautionary tale for campaigners who think money and Big Data is the key metric, perhaps?
Obama in 2008 and 2012 had amazingly well organized GOTV campaigns. I could go to a website, sign in and start making calls, which I did. I also received several phone calls myself from Democratic voters urging me to get out and vote.
This year? Crickets. Not a word from the Clinton campaign. No easy way to volunteer to help.
I did get a mailer from my state Democratic party. I also got some texts from Planned Parenthood, but only because I had previously signed up for their texts.
I have now voted in eleven presidential campaigns, never for a Republican. I do question how competent a president Hillary Clinton would have been because a campaign is a visible test of how good a manager a candidate is. Clinton failed that test. Thank’s for the detailed post-mortem.
The problem is that a lot of jokes about Hillary being a robot or a product(Trevor Noah did a segment comparing her to an Iphone) were right. Hillary had her best poll numbers after the Convention, where they told a lot of personal stories about her, where Bill presented Hillary, his wife.
Thar something that was missing during the GE campaign.
It’s amazing to think that a person with zero political skills and even less charisma and ethics, and who ran a goddawful campaign, almost won. When it came to a nominee, the Dems chose poorly.
I am sorry, but that is factually untrue. You could make calls from Clinton’s website and there was contact information for the local regional coordinator on her website.
I know because that’s how I got in contact with the local coordinator to volunteer.
I do know it was difficult to recruit people for volunteer shifts, whether to make calls or knock on doors. I don’t know whether to attribute that to apathy or overconfidence.
Or because the Russians have something on Jack. Is it irresponsible to speculate what it could be? It is irresponsible not to….
I’d say there was a narrative, but it was undermined at every turn by friend and foe alike.
I still can’t believe Hillary thought she could conceal her bout of pneumonia at the very same time Trump and Co were telling everyone that she was sick and dying. By the time Comey involved himself, I think Clinton’s credibility was already shot.
Yes, I’d agree there.
Here’s my take:
1) the “ohwhatthehell” attitude of a lot of voters who might have voted differently. Or voted, period.
2) “Mommy’s telling me to eat my spinach and I don’t WANNA!” attitude distaste for Hillary. Too much like Mommy.
3) “We’re bored with the known path. Let’s go for the unknown! Besides, Trump did a really great job on The Apprentice.”
4) ….Clinton == Band of Weasels….
5) “We’re bored with the Democrats. Let’s flip and now go for the Republicans!
6)….all of this adds up to a Perfect Storm.
And you know what? At present, I don’t care. Let the Republicans have the entire shebang. Cut Social Security. Get rid of Obamacare and Medicare. Trash the EPA, DOE, and the rest of the government. Give all the rich guys tax breaks. Default on the US debt. Just don’t then turn around and whine at me when the resultant chickens come home to roost and you find yourself in The Great Depression, Redux and you can’t trust any of your food and your water supplies are contaminated with lead. You are simply getting everything that you asked for. In spades.
Well, I wouldn’t say I’m PERFECT, but thanks for acknowledging my awesomeness.
Anyone familiar with computers will know the adage “Garbage in, garbage out.”
If your local campaign staff is sitting on data that has never been entered and you’re trying to make predictions, you’re missing a big part of the picture.
I would draw an analogy to the often touted CompStat system used by the New York Police Department. It works great for analysis until you find out a precinct captain has been cooking the books and under reporting crime to look good.
Sorry to threadjack but am I the only one getting hammered by incredibly obnoxious pop ups when I access OTB (and only OTB) from an iPhone or iPad? They take over the screen and if you click “close” they redirect to a phishing scam site. I can’t even open up another site on that tab I have to close it via tab manager
The problem is that, rightly or wrongly, Hillary Clinton is a widely unpopular politician who’s seen as corrupt. Faced with an epically weak Republican bench, the Democrats fell into “it is not enough that I succeed, my enemies must also suffer” mode and decided they were going to try and force people to like her.
Back in July, over at Jonathan Bernstein’s blog, I wrote the following: “if, after Trump’s apparent absence of a campaign while Hillary is spending millions in swing states with ads, GOTV and a massive operation to bury Trump, he still somehow manages to win, what would become of the entire campaigning industry?”
One of the commenters replied, “You’ve managed to find a silver lining to a Trump victory.”
Clearly the Russians are better at influencing elections than the US media.
@MarkedMan: I’ve had that happen to me for quite some time now.
@MarkedMan: I’ve been having the same problem for months if not years. I wasn’t sure if it was a problem with this particular site or a problem with my iPhone (or both). It happens to me on a couple of other sites.
Unfortunately, here in Northeast Ohio, that was my experience as well. I had find local organizers, and when I was able to get in on phone banks from the lists provided I’d usually only get an human to answer the phone, on average, 3% of the time.
OTOH, I got buried in emails ….. 99.5% of which were asking for donations, none about events, rallies etc – those things that can pump enthusiasm.
I felt disappointed in the campaign weeks before the election, but assumed that the “powers-that-be” considered Ohio was chancy at best, no need to exert that much effort in a losing cause. I even volunteered to work in PA or could even find my own housing in MI, but was told “we need to concentrate” on bringing Ohio in!
@MarkedMan: It happens to me all the time. It’s happened in the past, then gone away, then started again. I can’t tell you how many free gift cards I’ve won from clicking on OTB…
Clearly you shouldn’t try writing your own jokes…
But not as good as James Comey.
@MarkedMan: same problem here, when I close that unwanted window, it opens a new tab (in chrome) and redirects to another advertiser. Very Annoying
The supposedly liberal MSM were the
unwittingwitless tools who publicized the hacked material. The gob-smacking thing is that none of the hacked material really amounted to anything.
A lot of little things went wrong at the same time; as people keep pointing out, there is no one thing that caused her loss. Its like the undefeated Patriots losing their single game of the season in the Superbowl, despite being the better team the rest of the year.
One thing I read lately mentioned that the result was pretty much what you’d expect given that the Democrats had the Presidency for two terms; its uncommon for the same party to be given a third. Over a period of eight years there are always going to be a few percent of the population who run into personal financial problems and are desperate enough to vote for change in the (generally mistaken) belief that a different party in power might help them.
I don’t want to forget to look into unwanted foreign intelligence agencies meddling in our elections, but the question for today is how did HCR lose? Maybe our question is wrong; we should ask how did Trump win? He did not just beat Hillz; he also beat the GOP in the primaries. He won the nomination despite having less money than JEB and generally insulting GOP standards like McCain and Mitt. I don’t get it. There are lots of things that are popular that I don’t get like some music and some movies that are very popular that don’t do anything for me. James Patterson sells more books than anybody; does that make sense?
About 18 months ago, my brother-in-law in a rural Midwestern county told me that the place was full of Trump support. It seemed strange to me then and still does. How can underemployed farm community people think that a New York wheeler-dealer with vulgar tastes and poor impulse control is an answer to their problems?
@Slugger: because they’re bored and think that being POTUS is the same as being a shyster on The Apprentice?
They’re the same sort of idiots who think that professors at the state university (which has three Nobel laureates in chemistry or physics) shouldn’t be paid any more than the average income in the state. That this would immediately cause an incredible outflow and loss of good talent from the university is something they totally ignore…
Or… perhaps the blame lies with those who chose to lie:
How everyone is scrubbing their lies off twitter.
It’s like 1984.
Looks like Clinton wasn’t as well organized in certain states as she could have been. Doesn’t mean the campaign was disorganized overall.
I’m OK with accepting that Clinton was a flawed candidate who ran a flawed campaign-like EVERY candidate who ever ran for President, including the winners. It seems that Clinton didn’t follow the Obama campaign’s great GOTV template. Too bad.
NONE of this means the Russians didn’t help Trump beat Clinton.
You’re not the only one. On my desktop I’ve resorted to Adblocker. I might do the same of my iPhone.
Sam Wang crunched his data and concluded,
As Wang notes, with a race this close you can point to a list of things any one or two of which, if changed, would have given Hillary enough margin to absorb the Comey letter: Russian hacking, the unfortunate pneumonia incident, the supposedly liberal MSM’s content free obsession with email and the Clinton Foundation, vote suppresion, Hillary’s lack of charisma, Trumps eagerness to lie like a Mitt Romney, the Electoral College, etc., etc..
You can also point out that Hillary outperformed many of the fundamentals based models which show it being very hard for a Party to win a third term.
But let’s all be good little conservatives and blame the victim, not the villains.
@Jack: I can see why you believe what you do, if you’re only source of information is Rush Limbaugh you’re likely to go around saying ” everyone and I mean EVERYONE to include the Clinton team, the Obama administration, Harry Reid, et., are running around like chickens with their heads cut off screaming the RUSSIANS DID IT” because that’s what Rush was saying at exactly 9:20 am PST. I heard him myself. The difference is that I laughed and you took it seriously.
We at this site didn’t think its would be this close because Trump was manifestly unqualified. We are not the typical Republican voter. Republicans, as usual, got in line-and a big part of why the waverers got in line in the last two weeks was the Comey intervention, which reminded the waverers that Clinton had done something dastardly with EMAILZ!
Clinton lost because Democrats didn’t fall in love with Clinton. The weaker support for Clinton was the product of a right wing propaganda campaign going back years, helped by the anti Clinton left who enthusiastically picked up on a right wing meme that Clinton was uniquely corrupt. She was finally done in by Russian hacking & disinformation that built on all that and drove liberal voters to sit out the election or vote third party.
Unlike you, I think its pretty clear that the Russians helped Trump win a close one. I also think that the Republicans’ willingness to fall in line and vote strategically meant that it was going to be close.The decent Republican who would recoil in disgust from Trump that Clinton and the Democrats tried to reach-did not exist.
He beat the GOP in the primaries because he insulted those GOP “standards.”
If you want some insight into why someone like Trump could win, and why someone like Hillary could lose among some demographics, I suggest looking at some of the links at Mark Blyth’s Twitter feed, particularly those that specifically discuss Trump’s appeal and the rise of, as he puts it, “Global Trumpism,.”
@MarkedMan: I get this type of pop up on my laptop (PC not Mac) occasionally. I eventually discovered that if I click the back arrow on the subject line frame, it goes back to OTB (which means that they only seem like pop ups). I hope this helps.
Clinton won the popular vote by about 2.1%. She won almost as many votes as did Obama in 2012. None of that is an indication that Trump was a beloved candidate or that she delivered a wretched performance.
Analyzing this based upon the presumption that Trump was a popular candidate is flawed on its face. There is an element of this that is just a mathematical fluke: It is simply not the norm for a candidate who received those results to end up as president.
Interesting tell. Only one subculture uses “to include…” in that syntax, where the rest of the English-speaking world would say “including…”. Dr. Joyner probably spotted it too.
Very early in the campaign I got a string of absolutely terrible emails from the Clinton campaign. Literally stuff like “Get your I’m with her keychain” – vapid content and poor technical execution to boot.
I run commercial email campaigns as part of my work, so I wrote to the campaign, explained what they were doing wrong, and offered to help. Never received a reply. I remember thinking at the time that we really should be able to do better…
I’ve recommended WordFence to deal with this issue more than once, like my advice to the Clinton campaign, it appears to have fallen on deaf ears…
@gVOR08: I’m sorry, but it’s very hard for me to take Sam Wang seriously at this point.
@Timothy B Watson:
I think history will record Hillary Clinton as a historically poor campaigner. Good debate strategy, good one on one, decent speaker and stumper, but terrible at managing and hiring key people for a national campaign. Lots of poor tactical decisions in retrospect. It was clear that Clinton thought there was a coalition of women voters out there willing to cross party lines to vote for her. Clinton banked her campaign SOLELY on the decency of white women, while making few if any appeals to other voters.
Sam Wang went all in on Clinton. First rule of political gambling: never go all in. Always leave an out.
True, but framing that way simply adds to Trump’s mystique. “OHHHH, it’s soooo UNPRECEDENTED!!” says Politico orgasmicly for the umpteenth time. “He’s replacing the Stars in the American flag with little Swastikas! Once again, Trump breaks ALL the rules.”
I actually prefer the narrative that Clinton lost because she ran a shit campaign, with foreign influence, a 25 year bad mouthing PR campaign, misogyny, a whitelash, and historic headwinds against her. Trump is at 40% approval rating. People didn’t vote FOR Trump. They voted AGAINST Democrats, because Mitch McConnell is a political genius.
Now the mouth breathers are becoming dimly aware that they are about to lose their healthcare, their retirements, their children in a foreign war, and any and all regulation that protects their homes and workplaces. Trump’s schtick is just that…a con, a fad, a distraction. He will become more unpopular, just by the inevitable history of the nation. There will be a crisis, and we will have Trump to deal with it, and he will inevitably make a mess of something.
@Slugger: I heard an NPR interview this morning with a Trump voter in York, PA. The interviewee had voted for McCain in 2008 and Trump in 2016. He noted that things were picking up economically in his area. When asked why he voted for Trump, he mentioned only one issue: immigration. When the interviewer pointed out that net immigration was down under Obama, the man referred to an incident from years ago, when an illegal immigrant demolished his son’s car in an accident. Of such incidents are political upheavals made . . .
But remember, Sam Wang is also the one who in 2010 gave Sharron Angle (the Donald Trump of that year) a 99.997% chance of winning the Senate race against Harry Reid, and she ended up losing by more than 5% points. That should have been a tipoff that he has an, er, tendency to make vastly overconfident projections. Of course the polls were seriously off in that race, but the fact is the polls go wrong quite often, and if you’re a forecaster who makes probability estimates, you have to take that fact into account.
When he was making his 99% forecast for Clinton this year, he was doing it when literally no other forecasters were going that high and when there were definite danger signs on the horizon. Harry Enten explained the problem before the election: it would only take a very standard polling error in the GOP’s direction to make Trump president.
That would all be okay; even smart people get things wrong. But for good measure Wang all but implied that FiveThirtyEight was cooking the numbers to make the race seem more competitive. It proved that it isn’t just Republicans who make absurd ad hominem attacks against Nate Silver’s site when it says things they don’t want to hear.
Yep. Clinton ran a complacent, overconfident campaign. As Michael Reynolds points out, she did not present a vision that was compelling to voters. Her campaign ads were mostly about how terrible Trump is, as opposed to talking about what she would do for people if elected,. Her campaign slogan, “Stronger together” was pablum, not to mention the pathetic “I’m with her”. It didn’t help that she came into the election with a lot of baggage, and in a time when many people are unhappy wrt the direction of the country, the economy, and other factors, similar to what is also happening in Europe. In this political environment, being the candidate with lots of experience in Washington has its drawbacks.
One advantage of analyzing the mistakes Clinton made is that not making those mistakes in future elections is something that Democrats control. Democrats have little or no control over fake news, unexpected FBI revelations, the existence of the electoral college, how smart voters are, and various other factors that have been blamed for Trump’s win.
@DrDaveT: “To include” versus “including”, What subculture are you referring to. I hadn’t heard of this difference as a tell.
@MarkedMan: I switched from Chrome to Firefox on my phone, and that seemed to resolve it. It was very annoying.
@Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: unfortunately that doesn’t seem to work in iOS. If I click the back arrow I go to wherever I was before I tried to open OTB
Hillary got 2.8 million more votes than trump, and you want to blame her? I’d say blame some racist shitheads 200 years ago.
We wouldn’t have that dumb Electoral College bullshit in the first place if it wasn’t for trying to protect slavery.
Good thing for republicans, though. The only republicans elected president since 1988 have been through Electoral College fuckups.
Not disagreeing about why the Electoral College is there, though some of it is the same kind of thinking behind Parliamentary democracies like Canada, the UK, Germany, Australia etc – that you elect people to elect the leader, whether Prime Minister or President. In Parliamentary systems its unusual to have a majority vote for the party that gets the majority of the seats (Trudeau in Canada, like Harper before him and Chretien before him had a majority in Ottawa with 40% of the vote). It makes much more sense in parliamentary systems though than in presidential systems. I wonder how much of its implementation came from the founder’s thorough familiarity with the British system.
In any case, Bush Jr won his reelection without the electoral college, so you’re not quite right. He definitely won his initial election with it though, and wrongly so I’d say (the SCOTUS is at fault there tho as much or more than the electoral college).
Why are people making this so complicated. Clinton lost because she was a more despicable and a more hated person that Trump. It is just that simple. Like most people I never paid any attention to the campaign of either candidate. I just realized that she was the most corrupt and that was all that was needed.
It doesn’t create any mystique. It simply reflects what can sometimes happen when a country opts to use 51 elections to choose its executive instead of just one.
So the less hated, less despicable candidate received fewer votes.
Yeah, that makes a whole lot o’ sense.
You guys still don’t get it….siiiighhh. I giving it a little time for the stages of grief to play its way out but if the party faithful democrats haven’t got it together in the next 12 months–Trump will probably win a 2nd term.
If you haven’t noticed–he’s turning his post-election “campaign” TO THE CENTER-RIGHT. Sure, he threw a few bones to wingnuts by appointing their “people” as advisors but the policy making positions (with the exception of Sessions) are going to traditional republican types. I’ve already mentioned why there is a better than 50/50 chance Sessions goes center right–Alabama state politics demands dog whistles if you want to make it there…ask George Wallace. Now that Sessions is free from Alabama–he can be his true persona (if he has one). Time will tell.
Too much time is wasted denigrating Trump voters–most of them (60%+) cant stand the guy either. Yes, there are people that think Trump is America’s savior–there were people that thought the same about Obama. Those people were in the minority just like the Trump kool-aide drinkers are in the minority.
Trump voters did not vote for him because of his policy positions–that’s where you guys and gals are reading this wrong. There will not be any buyers remorse despite how bad the Democratic base would love to drink the tears of Trump voters. Heres why people voted for the guy– that I see:
1. He’s not a Clinton. Democrats underestimate that even Republicans realize what a disaster Bush II was and don’t want to go down the road of family claims to the Presidency. For these people, Clinton II and Bush III were non-starters.
2. They want him to punish career politicians by bringing in people with no political experience to be in charge in washington. Because of this, Democratic outrage actually plays to Trumps advantage because it signals to his voters that he’s on the right track. Most non-political junkies that voted from Trump don’t see the harm in bring in fresh eyes from non-career politicians so these types of attack don’t win this group either.
3. They want a new leadership style. Most people know we can be doing better as a country. The average Trump voter thinks our problems are due to leadership style. They don’t want nuanced and professorial. They want a tough guy that will say–“this is what we are going to do” –they attempt to do it. Frankly, Obama won so much crossover support from Republican moderates–because he was a tough guy on the campaign trail. He stood on the stump in ’08 and said he was going to kill Bin L. He then proceeded to do it and in 2012 went from stump to stump reminding people that he said he’d kill the guy–and killed him.
Democrats need to be really careful–there will be some “big government” giveaway just like there has been for every republican administration which will make the hyperbole seem foolish–just like it did with Obama in 2012. I also predict that Trump is going to try to steal a constituency away from the Democrats because he knows he can’t win in 2020 the way he won in 2016. He needs his approval numbers to go up and he needs to impress a young demographic disillusioned by the DNC treatment of Bernie. (Frankly, I think Bernie deserved it. The guy is not a Democrat so why should they have catered to him). Young people see it differently though.
PS: A simpler analysis is this came down to the most unpopular Democratic candidate ever Vs the most unpopular Republican candidate ever. Somebody had to lose.
@Jim Brown 32: Your analysis never mentions one of the most salient and underrated factors of this election, which is the importance of partisan identity. Clinton won 89% of the Democratic vote and Trump won 90% of Republicans. That’s lower than last time (when Obama won 92% of Dems and Romney 93% of Republicans), but not by much. The total percentages of all the third-party candidates combined was less than Ross Perot got even during his second presidential run in 1996, when neither of the major-party candidates were widely disliked.
The simplest “explanation” for this election is that the vast, vast majority of voters voted the way they always vote, so that it literally didn’t matter who the candidate was. All that mattered was whether that candidate had an R or D after their name. Political scientists have been saying this for years about voters, and Trump was sort of the ultimate test of this hypothesis.
So all these ruminations about “the American public” miss the point. This election, like all others in modern times, was decided by the whims of a tiny minority of voters who can never make up their damn mind but whose choices have vast consequences for everyone else.
@xyz: ” Like most people I never paid any attention to the campaign of either candidate. I just realized that she was the most corrupt and that was all that was needed.”
Is this some clever post trying to demonstrate that Clinton lost because a lot of voters are morons? Or are you really a moron? Hard to tell…
@Jim Brown 32:
Eliminating Medicare and Obamacare and slashing Social Security is center-right?
Giving the Government over to the fossil fuel industry is center-right?
A McCarthy-like witch hunt of Government employees who have done climate research is center-right?
Bolton, one of the architects of the Iraq debacle, is center-right?
Jeff Sessions, who already has been turned down for a judgeship because of abject racism, is center-right?
Embracing the authoritarianism of Russia is center-right?
I have no idea what you think center-right is, but this is shaping up to be one of the most radical administrations in history.
And godamnit…change your identifier.
Then why are Democrats, including the Clinton campaign, demanding that the Electoral College be given an intelligence briefing on Russian hacking prior to casting their votes?
@C. Clavin: By the way, have you seen the interviews of the original Jim Brown supporting Trump?
@StormyDragon. Yeah, I don’t quite think ‘within margin of error’ cuts it. All the wrongs were correlated. It wasn’t that predictions were 5 points too low in one place and 5 points too high in another. Everything broke against them.
@Pch101’s explanation seems better, but I’d like to drill into it more.
Yep, I want to blame her. She and her advisers were well aware that the presidency goes to the candidate with the most electors, not the most popular votes.
Westminster operates based upon the principle that the head of government (the PM) should reflect the collective will of the majority, while the head of state (the monarch) is hereditary.
The theory of the electoral college is that members of the college (who are not part of the government) should serve as a check-and-balance against majority rule when choosing the head of state and the head of government.
So these two systems work on opposing principles. Westminster places more weight on majority rule, while the US juggles popular rule with the interests of the states and a fear of a tyranny of the majority.
That’s a good point. I was thinking of the mechanism, which is analogous though of course far from identical. However you’re right, the principle is opposing. And now that you mention it, that’s behind some of the debates in Canada right now between advocates of the current first past the post system, and those who want to replace it with some flavor of proportional representation.
maybe the voters just got sick of playing this “name association/ascend the throne” thing? sure, most of the country hated her so much that they’d rather put another democrat (running as a republican) with no political experience in there before her……but you can still look for someone to blame other than the most obvious.
There is yet more evidence that the Russian hacking went beyond the Presidential campaign and iinvolved Congressional races:
Now I understand people who want to focus on Clinton’s flaws and mistakes. But there was really unprecedented interference in our elections by Russia, and it’s hard to figure out how the Clinton campaign could counter this , or indeed the intervention by our own FBI. And of course there was widespread voter suppression, which many folks here want to skip over.
Clinton was a flawed candidate. But she was facing unprecedented headwinds, and we should understand that. We should also understand that Russian intervention , having been so successful this time, will happen again if we don’t deal with it.
The leadership of the Democratic Party needs to hit the road, the highways and byways, the small towns, the back roads, the back woods, and the trails to find out what the people are thinking and feeling: the middle class, working people.
People who are fed up with the US flag being disrespected, here and abroad. They are tired of traditions and customs being thrown out and and turned on their head by some appointed judge trying to please a few people. They are tired of news media giving political opinions and trying to tell people what they should think, instead of accurately reporting the news. The Democratic Party leadership needs to listen to the working people more instead of some college professors. They need to be more in tune with a store owner, a construction worker, a car mechanic, a bank teller, a convenience store worker, a school bus driver, and a heat/ac repairman.
The Democratic leaders need to respect peoples’ religious beliefs instead of running them down and ignoring them. They need to spend some time on a farm with a farmer. They need to listen to the people who are working two jobs to make what one job used to pay. And raising the minimum wage a little bit is not going to make a dime’s worth of difference. They need to distance themselves from radicals.
Finally, they need to quit talking down to people and start listening to people.
And I was a Johnson – Humphrey man.
Clinton couldn’t counter it because of the Clinton baggage. The general public and the media was always inclined to believe the worst about the Clintons. If ISIS claimed they had dealings with Hillary Clinton, 99% of news media and public would believe it.
I’m trying to imagine Comey doing something similar to Obama and Biden, and simply can’t. They would be laughed at for being partisan hacks. But no matter how underhanded or nefarious the source, if it had the word “Clinton” on it, people would swallow it. Hence Pizzagate.
I think HRC underestimated how radioactive her name was to the majority of the public, including millennials who had grown up their whole lives associating the Clinton name with the political equivalent of Satan.
What would you guess is the percentage change (in key states) that Clinton lost because of those emails? I’ve seen estimates all over the ball park, everything from that they were decisive to that they made no difference at all.
Again, I think it was just one element in a long list of bad breaks. Suppose it cost her all of Stein’s votes (that is probably the upper limit – Johnson took more from Trump than Clinton, which is why sites like Breitbart was pushing the ‘a vote for Johnson is a vote for Clinton’ angle so heavily, they knew where his votes were coming from), and suppressed another potential 1% from voting at all (and that’s probably a vast overestimate). That wouldn’t have mattered if not for so many other things going wrong. And the more analysis is done, the more I believe her biggest problem was that the Democrats had the presidency for the last eight years – that’s always a huge hurdle, so big that its been rare for anyone to overcome it.
Political types think this was a bell weather election, to which normal rules wouldn’t apply. But the stats seem to be following the usual outcomes remarkably well. People vote for teams out of habit, and despite predictions, that didn’t seem to change this time around either. And then you get the few percent who’s personal finances went sour and want a change. Its not just an American pattern; its very uncommon in any democracy for the same party to hold power for more than a decade. Something about human nature.
The best she could have done, perhaps, is try to present herself as a change rather than the status quo. Not sure how she’d have done it, but it might have been worth trying.
I think propaganda works. A huge chunk of Republicans apparently believe Obama was born in Kenya and was a secret Muslim. I could see a Disinformation campaign against Biden that would turn him into crazy Uncle Joe, plagiarist, gaff machine, and the senator from the banking industry. Bernie would be Stalin’s love child by the time the Republican propaganda machine was done with him.
Just about all the people talking about how other candidates would do seem to forget the other candidates aren’t facing the concentrated fire of a propaganda campaign that is made even more toxic by social media.
Now was Clinton specially vulnerable? Maybe. But I’m not sure Biden or Sanders would have done better. Obama may have been a special case but then Obama suffered too.
I think the Wikileaks campaign was quite effective at suppressing Bernie supporters. Based on my experience with such supporters on Twitter, quite a few stayed home or voted third party in protest. In retrospect, that was dumb and some are now plaintively asking what can be done to stop Trump.
My lesson from this is that Disinformation targeted at certain groups works quite well. Of course if you aren’t a Bernie supporter the idea of Hillary as a corrupt criminal who cheated Bernie out of a primary win might seem like just more unsubstantiated Clinton nonsense but the hard core Bernie crowd ate it up.
It’d be interesting to see statistics on the numbers of Sanders’ supporters who stayed home. In particular, given this discussion, to see if that number changed after Wikileaks. The problem with things like Twitter, or forums, is that a statistically tiny (and unrepresentative) number of people actually post, but there might be better polling out there which backs your hunch. My guess is that most who stayed home did so because they simply lost interest – just about half the voting public couldn’t be bothered, and I’m guessing that was the case with some Sanders supporters too, like fans of a sports team who stop watching the play-offs when their team is eliminated.
However, I’m not sure that the number who switched to third party would make a difference. Johnson took as many from Trump. Or more, right wing sites were very worried about that, they were pushing the “A vote for Johnson is a vote for Clinton” angle very hard before the election, so he was a wash at best.
As a side note, there were some amusing Meme’s out there that a vote for a third party was actually three votes, since Democrats were saying a third party vote was a vote for Trump and Republicans were saying a third party vote was a vote for Clinton – vote Johnson for example and you voted for Trump, Clinton and Johnson, a three for one sale.
Stein’s votes would come out of Clinton’s potential voters, but even if all of them were Sander’s voters who’d have voted for her if not for the Wikileaks, it wouldn’t have been enough to give her the EC. And I suspect some of them are people who always vote Green, so things like the Wikileaks wouldn’t have touched their votes.