Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes paint a myth of an inevitable Clinton loss…. (More)
“Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign”
That’s the subtitle of Allen’s and Parnes’ new book Shattered, and the word “doomed” reveals a classic fallacy of retrospective determinism: because This happened in These circumstances, This was inevitable in These circumstances. It’s a subset of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy: This happened after That, therefore That caused This.
That is, Allen and Parnes know Hillary Clinton lost the election and, perhaps without realizing they done so, infer that her loss was inevitable. They then set out to document the “mistakes” – staff infighting, inaccurate voter profiling, ‘abandoning’ the Rust Belt states – that “doomed” her campaign.
The New York Times review basically accepts that premise, as Shakesville’s Melissa McEwan explains:
So, there’s a new book entitled Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, about how the first woman to ever win a major-party nomination for the presidency and her historically diverse staff, whose campaign won the popular vote by 3 million votes, are a bunch of dum-dum fuck-ups.
I’m paraphrasing, presumably, as I haven’t read the book. I have, however, read the New York Times’ review, penned by Michiko Kakutani, which is headlined: “‘Shattered’ Charts Hillary Clinton’s Course Into the Iceberg.” Cool.
In fact, the portrait of the Clinton campaign that emerges from these pages is that of a Titanic-like disaster: an epic fail made up of a series of perverse and often avoidable missteps by an out-of-touch candidate and her strife-ridden staff that turned “a winnable race” into “another iceberg-seeking campaign ship.”
It is not until the sixth paragraph that Kakutani acknowledges maybe it wasn’t entirely Team Clinton’s fault, before immediately pivoting back to blaming Clinton:
There was a perfect storm of other factors, of course, that contributed to Clinton’s loss, including Russian meddling in the election to help elect Trump; the controversial decision by the FBI director, James Comey, to send a letter to Congress about Clinton’s emails less than two weeks before Election Day; and the global wave of populist discontent with the status quo (signaled earlier in the year by the British “Brexit” vote) that helped fuel the rise of both Trump and Bernie Sanders. In a recent interview, Clinton added that she believed “misogyny played a role” in her loss.
The authors of Shattered, however, write that even some of her close friends and advisers think that Clinton “bears the blame for her defeat”…
As McEwan writes, one notably absent factor in the Times analysis is the role of the Times and other media, who spent 18 months hyping the Clinton Foundation and email stories … despite finding not a shred of evidence that she broke any laws or withheld any relevant documents.
The Washington Post’s Steven Ginsberg picks apart the book’s flaws:
Does it really matter who was pissy at whom in Brooklyn when we still don’t know what role the Russians played in the election or why FBI Director James Comey publicly announced a reopening of the email investigation in late October? Those questions are largely left unexplored here, other than as targets of Clinton’s post-election ire.
Shattered leaves open the question of how Clinton lost. She and her campaign are convinced that Comey was the pivotal factor — and there is evidence to support that view. But the Comey episode doesn’t address why the race in the reliably blue Rust Belt was so close to begin with or what Clinton could have done to alter it.
Much of the post-election analysis has criticized Clinton and her campaign for focusing on “reach” states such as North Carolina instead of putting more resources in the upper Midwest. That view is both echoed and called into question in Shattered, which depicts a vexing Goldilocks-style problem for Clinton across the region.
In Wisconsin, she didn’t show up enough. In Michigan, local organizers thought it was best that she stayed away. In Pennsylvania, she campaigned as aggressively as anywhere in the nation. In all three, she lost by less than 1 percent of the vote. So what should she have done?
The answer often comes back to [campaign manager Robby Mook’s voter model], which, we are reminded again and again, was wrong. But let’s say he had the right model – would Clinton have had a winning strategy, or would she have known she was going to lose? We’re never told.
And maybe, just maybe, we’re never told because that question is a case study in retrospective determinism: she lost, therefore her loss was inevitable, due to “mistakes” and “infighting” and “bad strategy” and whatever.
But Nate Silver’s final FiveThirtyEight forecast had Clinton a 70% favorite. Other forecasts were higher, but let’s take that 70% for a benchmark. And that means that – despite the supposed weaknesses of Mook’s voter modeling, despite the perfectly normal arguments between staffers, despite the differing strategic choices in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – she and her campaign put her in a position where she was a 70% favorite … in what almost every model projected to be a close election.
Put another way, ask any poker professional if – after playing a hand such that it was a 70% favorite to win – he/she lost the pot because of a “mistake.” Any good poker professional would explain that he/she played the hand well, but the cards fell into that other 30%. That happens in poker … and in life.
“Republicans avoided an embarrassing defeat”
Speaking of spin, here’s the Post’s Robert Costa on yesterday’s special election in Georgia:
Republicans avoided an embarrassing defeat in a House race in Atlanta’s conservative suburbs by forcing a runoff against Democrat Jon Ossoff, who captured the most votes with a groundswell of grass-roots activism and millions in donations fueled largely by antipathy to President Trump.
Unofficial returns showed that Ossoff had earned less than 50 percent of the vote, the threshold needed to declare an outright victory. Instead, with 48.3 percent, Ossoff was headed to a runoff against Republican Karen Handel, the top GOP vote-getter in a special election to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.
In a statement early Wednesday, Ossoff acknowledged that he had fallen short.
Reality check: no one expected Ossoff to win outright yesterday. There were 18 candidates, and poll showed him over 50%. Most showed him in the low- to mid-40s. Instead, he finished with 48.1% … almost 30 points ahead of second-place Handel, who didn’t reach even 20%.
Yes, Handel will do better in the runoff, as most Republican voters will rally to their candidate. But there were enough votes for the other Democratic candidates to put Ossoff over the top if those voters rally to him. And if he does win in the runoff, I’m sure we’ll hear how he didn’t win by as big a margin as he could have so it’s still a Republican victory….
Photo Credit: The Wrap
Good day and good nuts