A political scientist like me loves case studies from which one can then develop broader hypotheses.
A good analyst always looks for multiple instances of events and connects them to shape broader judgements.
Although the press and analysts are looking at the “causes” of the recent victory of Trump versus Clinton and seeking causes such as the Russian factor or “whitelash,” what is being ignored is that this is the SECOND case of a collapse against the ultimately successful candidate.
And what makes it particularly interesting is that she has done this against candidates who represented different political tendencies.
It is almost a perfect opportunity to shape a general approach.
And it is clear from even a cursory examination of the two cases, that the causes are the same — an inability to communicate effectively to the electorate beyond her own committed cohort.
Also evident is an ability to shape a broader program attractive enough to the voters to elect her, and a clear inability then to communicate that program.
And by program, I mean a clear and short list of tasks and actions supported widely enough to win.
And she is a polarizing figure, one who is disliked enough to give the other candidate a solid start to victory.
The 2008 Case
Going back to 2008, here is what an evaluation of Clinton’s loss to Obama looked like:
WHY CLINTON LOST
No Respect for the Voters
The flipside of Obama’s respect for voters was Clinton’s disrespect. It began with her announcement of her candidacy in early 2007, when she said she was “in it to win it.”
Why else would someone run?
The not-so-secret assumption behind her entire campaign was that she was the inevitable nominee.
But voters don’t like to be told how they will vote by politicians (or pundits).
It’s disrespectful. And primary voters, particularly the well-educated ones who helped power Obama’s campaign, don’t like to be pandered to, on the gas tax or anything else.
Well-informed college-educated voters are no longer a sliver of arugula-eating elites; they are the backbone of the Democratic Party.
Most of all, voters don’t like to be played for fools.
When Clinton ran ads in South Carolina claiming that Obama admired Ronald Reagan and must be some crypto-conservative, she wasn’t just wasting her money. She was offending people in a state that proved pivotal.
The rest of the list included: Poor strategy, weak management, arrogance, entitlement.
And no cyber threat could explain this one:
While Hillary turned out to be a much stronger candidate as time went on, one thing never changed: the sense that the Clintons felt they were owed the nomination.
By repeatedly moving the goal posts on party rules, sideswiping Obama at every turn, whining about rampant sexism on the basis of two or three anecdotes, and claiming that the Florida primary resembled the 2000 fiasco and a rigged Zimbabwe election, Clinton continued to reinforce the impression that she considered the title hers no matter what.
Compare that with this year’s election.