Bill Clinton’s old pollster Stanley Greenberg joins the pile piling onto Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
Greenberg’s most striking point is the campaign’s overreliance on “data analytics” and under-reliance on polls, focus groups and good old political gut. In other words, the campaign abandoned the very same techniques that made Bill Clinton a winner in 1992 and 1996. Bill devoured polls like Big Macs.
Charging Hillary’s campaign with “malpractice and arrogance,” Greenberg writes:
“The campaign relied far too heavily on something that campaign technicians call ‘data analytics.’ This refers to the use of models built from a database of the country’s 200 million–voters, including turnout history and demographic and consumer information, updated daily by an automated poll asking for vote preference to project the election result. But when campaign developments overtake the model’s assumptions, you get surprised by the voters—and this happened repeatedly.
“Astonishingly, the 2016 Clinton campaign conducted no state polls in the final three weeks of the general election and relied primarily on data analytics to project turnout and the state vote. They paid little attention to qualitative focus groups or feedback from the field, and their brief daily analytics poll didn’t measure which candidate was defining the election or getting people engaged.”
Hold the mayo! No state polls in the final three weeks? Do you see any connection with losing four battleground states by less than one point?
It’s easy to say, glibly: “I don’t trust polls.” There are plenty of bad polls and wrong polls. But you can’t beat a good poll for giving you an understanding of how people see an election, the candidates and the issues. Data analytics can tell you a lot about voters, but it can miss a lot. Obviously. Hillary’s campaign missed a lot.
Greenberg also writes about the now-legendary white working-class voters:
“Clinton and the campaign acted as if ‘demographics is destiny’ and that a ‘rainbow coalition’ was bound to govern. Yes, there is a growing ‘Rising American Electorate,’ but…you must give people a compelling reason to vote and I have demonstrated for my entire career that a candidate must target white working-class voters too.”
Greenberg says Democrats and progressives now need to ask:
“What is the role of the working class and white working class? How do you build off of anger toward an economy that fails the middle class, but still align with professionals, innovators, and metropolitan areas? How do you credibly battle corporate influence and corrupted politics? Can you simultaneously advance identity and class politics?”
If Democrats don’t solve those puzzles, they won’t seize the openings offered by Trump, Washington Republicans and the coming GOP civil war.