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Critics say Hillary Clinton didn’t focus enough energy in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. She disputes this at length in her new book, “What Happened.” Clinton calls the idea that she didn’t focus on those states enough “not credible.”
One of the first things Hillary Clinton decided to address in the “What Happened” chapter on why she lost the election was one of the most common critiques of her campaign: That she didn’t put forth enough effort in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
Critics of Clinton’s campaign strategy have said her efforts (or lack thereof) in those three states – traditional Democratic strongholds that were carried by President Donald Trump – highlighted the Democratic presidential nominee’s biggest problems as a candidate.
Losing those three states cost her the election. Each state was decided by a razor-thin margin, which allowed Clinton to win the popular vote by roughly 3 million votes yet still lose in the Electoral College.
“If just 40,000 people across Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania had changed their minds, I would have won,” Clinton wrote. “With a margin like that, everyone can have a pet theory about why I lost. It’s difficult to rule anything out. But every theory needs to be tested against the evidence that I was winning until October 28, when [former FBI Director] Jim Comey injected emails back into the election.”
“For example, some critics have said that everything hinged on me not campaigning in the Midwest,” she continued. “And I suppose it is possible that a few more trips to Saginaw or a few more ads on the air on Waukesha could have tipped a couple thousand votes here and there.”
She insisted that he campaign “knew the industrial Midwest was crucial to our success,” adding that she and her team “didn’t ignore those states.”
Critics point to her lack of a trip to Wisconsin following the party conventions as proof that she did not take the idea of potentially losing those crucial states seriously, but Clinton said that idea is without merit, saying “we didn’t ignore those states.”
The former secretary of state wrote that in Pennsylvania, her team had 120 more staffers on the ground than President Barack Obama did four years earlier and spent 211% more on TV ads. She noted that she held more than 25 campaign events in the Keystone State while having major surrogates like Obama and Vice President Joe Biden make appearances as well.
She also noted that in Michigan, she had about 140 more staffers on the ground than Obama in 2012, spent 166% more on TV ads, and made seven visits during the general election campaign.
“We lost both states, but no one can say we weren’t doing everything possible to compete and win,” she wrote.
On Wisconsin, Clinton said it was the “one place where we were caught by surprise.”
She said her team deployed 133 staffers to the Badger State and spent $3 million on TV ads, “but if our data (or anyone else’s) had shown we were in danger, of course we would have invested even more.”
“I would have torn up my schedule, which was designed based on the best information we had, and camped out there,” she wrote.
Clinton pointed to new voter ID laws in the state as a strong reason for why she lost Wisconsin.
“Bear in mind that Trump received roughly the same number of votes in Wisconsin that Mitt Romney did,” she wrote, referring to the 2012 Republican presidential nominee. “There was no surge in Republican turnout. Instead, enough voters switched, stayed home, or went for third parties in the final days to cost me the state.”
“Here’s the bottom line: I campaigned heavily across Pennsylvania, had an aggressive ground game and lots of advertising, and still lost by 44,000 votes, more than the margin in Wisconsin and Michigan combined,” she continued. “So it’s just not credible that the best explanation for the outcome in those states – and therefore the election – was where I held rallies.”
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Pointing to another critique – that if she ran further to the left she would’ve pulled out victories in the Midwest – Clinton said she doesn’t believe that to be true.
Though she lost Democratic primaries in Michigan and Wisconsin to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who ran on a leftist platform, Clinton pointed to some Senate results as proof that she wouldn’t have fared better running on a Sanders platform. In Wisconsin, Democratic Senate candidate Russ Feingold, who ran a populist campaign, lost to Republican Sen. Ron Johnson by a larger margin than Clinton lost to Trump. In Ohio, Republican Sen. Rob Portman trounced Democratic nominee Ted Strickland.
“Sanders himself had a chance to test out his appeal during the primaries, and he ended up losing to me by nearly four million votes – including in Ohio and Pennsylvania,” she wrote. “And that was without any pummeling by the Republican attack machine that would have savaged him in a general election.”
She kAI took issue with Green Party nominee Jill Stein, who, she seemed to place a significant portion of blame on for her losses in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
“Stein wouldn’t be worth mentioning, except for the fact that she won 31,000 votes in Wisconsin, where Trump’s margin was smaller than 23,000,” Clinton wrote. “In Michigan, she won 51,000 votes, while Trump’s margin was just over 10,000. In Pennsylvania, she won nearly 50,000 votes, and Trump’s margin was roughly 44,000. So in each state, there were more than enough Stein voters to swing the result, just like Ralph Nader did in Florida and New Hampshire in 2000.”
“Maybe, like actress Susan Sarandon, Stein thinks electing Trump will hasten ‘the revolution,'” she continued. “Who knows?”