U.S. Pol / Gov

Democrats say they now know exactly why Clinton lost in 2016

Washington: A group of top Democratic Party strategists have used new data about last year’s presidential election to reach a startling conclusion about why Hillary Clinton lost. Now they just need to persuade the rest of the party they’re right.

Many Democrats have a shorthand explanation for Clinton’s defeat: Her base didn’t turn out, Donald Trump’s did and the difference was too much to overcome.

But new information shows that Clinton had a much bigger problem with voters who had supported president Barack Obama in 2012 but backed Trump four years later.

Those Obama-Trump voters effectively accounted for more than two-thirds of the reason Clinton lost, according to Matt Canter, a senior vice-president of the Democratic political firm Global Strategy Group. In his group’s analysis, about 70 per cent of Clinton’s failure to reach Obama’s vote total in 2012 was because she lost these voters.

His firm’s conclusion is shared broadly by other Democrats who have examined the data, including senior members of Clinton’s campaign and officials at the Democratic data and analytics firm Catalist. (The New York Times, in its own analysis, reached a similar conclusion.)

Each group made its assessment by analysing voter files – reports that show who voted in every state, and matching them to existing data about the voters, including demographic information and voting history. The groups determined how people voted – in what amounts to the most comprehensive way to analyse the electorate short of a full census.

The findings are significant for a Democratic Party at a historic low point that’s trying to figure out how it can win back power. Much of the debate over how to proceed has centred on whether the party should try to win back working-class white voters – who make up most of the Obama-Trump voters – or focus instead on mobilising its base.

Turning out the base is not good enough, the data suggests.

“This idea that Democrats can somehow ignore this constituency and just turn out more of our voters, the math doesn’t work,” Canter said. “We have to do both.”

Democrats are quick to acknowledge that even if voters switching allegiance had been Clinton’s biggest problem, in such a close election she still could have defeated Trump with better turnout. For example, she could have won if African-American turnout in Michigan and Florida matched 2012’s.

They also emphasise the need for the party to continue finding ways to stoke its base. Democrats can do both, said Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA, a super PAC that backed Clinton last year and is now trying to help Democrats return to power.

“I really do believe that we should reject this idea that if we just focus on turnout and the Democratic base that that will be enough,” he said. “If that really is our approach, we’re going to lose six or seven Senate seats in this election. But, I also believe that just talking about persuasion means we are not capitalising on an enormous opportunity.”

For the Full Report of this Article You Can Reach   HERE on Sydney Morning Herald by Alex Roarty. 

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