The past election cycle was a wild one. So many things I believed could never happen did. But one thing I did believe on election day: HRC would win. I didn’t think it would be a blowout the way the media portrayed, but I did think she would be victorious. The reason I wanted to read this book is to try to find out why myself, the media, and the campaign got it so wrong, and were there warning signs prior to the election that were unheeded or ignored?
The prologue provides a lot of interesting information I previously didn’t know. The authors began writing this in 2014, and the title was supposed to refer to the glass ceiling Hillary was going to shatter. The authors had agreed they would not release the book before the election, and conducted all interviews on background to provide anonymity to the sources.
HRC received more votes than any Republican nominee ever, and about three million more than Trump. So how did she lose the electoral map?
Interesting facts I learned: Bernie Sanders was no more a democrat than Donald Trump was a Republican. The independent self described socialist had to run under the democrat banner to even have a shot. Both he and Donald Trump were seen as anti-establishment outsiders. While there were plenty of Bernie supporters who would never vote for Trump, there were more that would never vote for HRC. When a large swath of working-class in the fly-over states can identify more with a Republican billionaire from New York than the democrat candidate who they saw as an elitist, you’ve got a major PR problem in the democratic party.
Elizabeth Warren was considered as a running mate for Hillary, but ultimately Tim Kaine was selected. This stunned me, and I do believe this was a grave mistake. Warren would have attracted a lot of the Bernie voters. But the campaign thought it would be “too many women on the ballot.”
Donald Trump not only contributed money to HRC’s senate campaign, but called Bill before the primary season to ask his political advice on running and Bill gave it to him. At that point, he didn’t see him as a threat to his wife’s campaign.
The campaign strategy was more concerned with turning out the base than spending money to persuade undecided voters or attracting new voters. The campaign manager, Mook, was reticent to send boots on the ground to many states, including the Rust Belt. Only Bill saw the foolishness of this strategy and tried to turn the ship around. Mook came across as a real tightwad and the campaign didn’t spend any money on polling, preferring to use the much cheaper analytics to gauge the winds of the electorate. This was one of their biggest mistakes.
Despite the many foibles and missteps of the Trump campaign–and there were many–it was the drip, drip, drip of the HRC e-mail server scandal that would never go away. The contentious primary with Bernie Sanders that went on way too long did permanent damage to Hillary and reinforced Trump’s message.
Although the authors and many other people believe that Hillary won all three debates, her message could not be broken down into the easy-to-digest sound bites that Bernie and Trump both were able to accomplish. Terrible campaign slogans didn’t help. Neither Breaking Barriers or Stronger Together come across as strong messaging. I’m sure in different parts of the country, voters heard different reasons why they should vote for HRC, but where I come from all I heard was “because she’s a woman” or “it’s her turn.” Neither of those reasons are good enough to win an election.
So should you read this book? Only if you geek out on facts and figures. I do wish the authors had used a more chronological approach because when you go back and forth in flashback, it’s hard to keep track of what happened when.