Was It Comey, Or Was It Clinton?

Commentators have said that Hillary Clinton was just the wrong candidate at the wrong time facing off against the wrong opponent -- that she was doomed to lose the 2016 presidential election, considering her history in the public eye and the inherent difficulties of a party's winning three consecutive terms in the White House.

Others, particularly those in and around the Clinton campaign, place the blame on a litany of issues that dogged the Democratic nominee throughout the past year and a half.

The FBI investigation, the Russian/Wikileaks hacks, misogyny -- there is no doubt these all had an effect on voters’ image of Clinton, which is virtually impossible to accurately measure.

From different (subjective) perspectives, the staying power of each of these issues holds varying degrees of importance.

Joel Benenson, Hillary Clinton’s top campaign pollster, is relatively certain which outside factor did the most damage to Clinton’s chances: FBI director James Comey.



“We were winning this campaign,” Benenson told David Axelrod at an event held at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, according to the Chicago Tribune. “We came out of the third debate consolidating our lead … and we get to 11 days out, and the director of the FBI takes an unprecedented action and throws a monkey wrench into the campaign that you couldn’t have anticipated.”

“It stalled the momentum of our defectors coming back to us (from third-party candidates) in enough numbers and it helped animate (Trump’s) defectors,” added Benenson.

The argument is not weak. While most polling numbers might have been off, when it came down to it, the final vote margins in the all-important states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan were extremely small. And, in the end, the Clinton campaign won the popular vote by over two million votes.

Those less favorable to Clinton might think otherwise, and not without good reason. Any time Hillary Clinton runs for office, her poll numbers plummet, pointing to deeply rooted problems connecting with voters.

The slim margins by which Trump won the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, however, lead one to presume that the Electoral College outcome on Nov. 8 might have been different had the FBI director acted differently.

4 comments about "Was It Comey, Or Was It Clinton?".
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  1. Phillip Nones from Mullin/Ashley Associates, Inc., November 30, 2016 at 5:19 p.m.

    Somethings's missing among this litany of reasons why Hillary Clinton lost the election.  "It's the Clinton Foundation, Stupid." 
    That took more of a toll on her prospects than James Comey or anyone/anything else.  All of the server and related issues go straight back to the Foundation and the Clinton family's desire to gain riches beyond anyone else's fondest dreams of avarice, while conveniently covering their tracks.  Of all the "Clinton Scandals," this is the guttural one that compelled people to abandon their support of HRC -- even if they didn't switch their vote to Donald Trump and voted third-party instead. 
    Benghazi, classified e-mails and the like are somewhat abstract issues.  Gaming government service to suck millions into your personal bank accounts like a vacuum cleaner is what hit people squarely in the face. 
    The extent to which Clinton loyalists parked at the State Department were doing bidding for the Foundation (while on government time and payrolls), coupled with double-dipping paychecks for people like Huma Abedin, the degree of "connective tissue" between these entities and "Clinton, Inc." was nothing short of breathtaking.  (Check out the infamous memo by Bill Clinton's chief rainmaker Doug Band for the details.)
    The bottom line:  No one likes people who become wealthy at the expense of others -- especially those who are supposedly conducting the people's business in government. 
    Even if those people are members of your own political party.

  2. Philip Rosenstein from Law360 replied, November 30, 2016 at 5:41 p.m.

    Thanks for making that point, Phillip - yes, the Clinton Foundation issues are surely part of what soured Clinton's image.

    However, as I'm sure you'd agree, your point that - "No one likes people who become wealthy at the expense of others," is perfectly applicable to our president-elect. He's largely run his businesses at the expense of others -- employees, contractors, tenants etc. There's a blatant double standard there. I do concede that there is a difference between a business and a foundation.

    Surely the close relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department didn't do Clinton any favors, but Comey's untimely and wholly uncommon letter to Congress, regardless of its relatively benign contents, shook many uncertain voters. And, as stated in the piece, the margins in key states were so small that Comey could very well have made a significant difference.

    But, yes, questions about the Clinton Foundation should certainly be added to the "litany" of issues.

  3. Phillip Nones from Mullin/Ashley Associates, Inc. replied, November 30, 2016 at 8:30 p.m.

    Not just the difference between a business and a foundation, but also government employment. That's the worst part of it, Philip.

  4. Chuck Lantz from, network replied, December 1, 2016 at 5:22 p.m.

    The "something" that was missing has nothing to do with foundations, or Comey, or anything else in the long list of negatives,  for either candidate.  

    What was sadly, and tragically missing during the campaign was speculation by reliable experts regarding how each candidate would actually perform as president.  We were all so caught-up in the negatives, both real and imaginary, from the past that very little was said about future performance in the job itself.

     While that's the way it's done when hiring an employee, where the CV is everything, and some sort of probationary period is in place where said employee can be replaced if things don't work out, there is no such relatively quick exit mechanism for the presidency.  As a result, the qualifications regarding actual diplomacy, or the lack of it, were never the issue they should have been.

    And now the voters have chosen the candidate who has never had to practice any real diplomacy in his life, over one who made it her life's work. 

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