Back By Popular Demand, Point-No Point Vassallo/Scruggs: Why Hillary Lost

Point/No Point is back this week by popular demand for this exchange of opinion about why Hillary Clinton lost. Steve Vassallo (Donald Trump supporter) and Dick Scruggs (Hillary Clinton supporter) debate the topic below. Steve’s piece was posted earlier in the week, but we have combined both Vassallo’s and Scruggs’ pieces here for easy reading!

VASSALLO: Hillary’s Ten Strategic Mistakes

by Steve Vassallo

Steve Vassallo
Steve Vassallo

It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, especially in politics and sports. However, when you are able to recognize missteps when they occur while not having to wait for the after effects, it validates your basic instincts.

It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, especially in politics and sports. However, when you are able to recognize missteps when they occur while not having to wait for the after effects, it validates your basic instincts.
Being involved in the Trump campaign (Lafayette County Chairman), I was able to analyze both campaigns starting in the summer of 2015 through election night. Following is my assessment (opinion) of why Hillary lost. Readers’ responses are encouraged.

1. The selection of the junior senator from Virginia…I jumped for joy when Hillary nominated Tim Kaine. I was fearful she would select a rust belt politician who would minimize the effect of Mike Pence. Virginia is a state she was always going to carry. Kaine added nothing to the ticket…nada!

 

2. Words can be hurtful if not catastrophic….Remember the infamous use of the word “deplorables?” Nothing energized the Trump base more. This became a rallying cry similar to “Remember the Alamo.” Hillary gave Trump more ammunition than even the NRA was able to deploy!

3. Taking for granted the rust belt…The states of Michigan; Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were a huge miscalculation in not pursuing. Trump’s internal polling indicated that all three of these states were competitive which proved to be correct. These states represented 46 electoral votes, no small dividend.

4. The Florida strategy was a failed one….The Sunshine State’s 29 electoral votes were essential to a Trump victory, but going about winning the state the way Clinton campaigned was not smart. Not forcefully challenging Trump in the Panhandle provided the GOP time and money to divert to Dade and Broward counties. Hillary was unable to then achieve the margins in south Florida to offset the northwest.

5. Too much reliance on POTUS….The pollsters were telling us that Obama’s approval rating was 58 percent. Very few of us believed this, but apparently, the Democrats did. While other polls were saying that 72 percent of the electorate believed the country was on the ‘wrong track,’ the two contrasting ratings simply did not add up. Having the
First Lady campaign alongside Hillary also complicated this situation by upstaging the candidate.

6. The private server issue that would not go away…By taking a laissez-faire approach to the most compelling weakness of her candidacy was a flawed one. In retrospect, by not holding a lengthy press conference confronting this issue head on was a major mistake. The same could be said for the Clinton Foundation.

7. The absence of a southern-western strategy…Trump’s base of 21 states representing 174 electoral votes (96 shy of winning) comprised a grouping that he did not have to defend as Hillary & Co. wrote 42 percent of the states off from the get go…not smart! This allowed the Republicans to concentrate on 14 other states with 167 electoral votes which they did, carrying 9 of these while racking up 132 electoral votes!

8. The Billy Bush bus revelation…Many pundits and leaning Democrats incorrectly came to the conclusion that the election was concluded on that Friday night. Assuming the female vote was forever lost to Trump, the Clinton campaign shifted into neutral opposed to accelerating. No greater miscalculation was made in the 2016 campaign. However damaging and revealing this was, it still occurred 11 years prior when the Donald was a private citizen and entertainer.

9. Too much emphasis on the minority vote….Adding together the black and Hispanic vote, that still leaves 70 percent of the electorate unaccounted for. Recalling my days in statistics class in Conner Hall, 70 “trumps” 30 every time. And Hillary’s inability to energize the minority voters similar to the POTUS in 2012, the reduction in turnout
cost her critical states like PA, MI and OH.

10. Lack of an electoral strategy getting to 270….Entering the fall campaign, Hillary had 15 states plus DC locked down, amounting to 197 electoral votes. She would then only require 73 electoral votes with at least 167 in play. This was a significant advantage that very few thought could not be overcome. Taking hard-line Democrat
historical states such as PA; MI; WI; VA and OH into her column would have given her 77, four more than needed. Had she focused on these five states, while discarding NC and FL (not to mention AZ), she would have won easily.

There you have it. Countless books will be written on the election of 2016 for years to come. The analysis will be never ending. This was truly an election of a lifetime! Thank God it’s over!

SCRUGGS: It Wasn’t the Strategy That Beat Hillary Clinton 

by Dick Scruggs

Richard "Dickie" Scruggs
Richard “Dickie” Scruggs

    Football coaches have a response to us Monday morning quarterbacks who question their play calling in the previous week’s game: “It ain’t the x’s and o’s that win games, it’s the Jimmy’s and Joe’s”—meaning, of course, that talent beats strategy.

    Steve has done a pretty good job of analyzing the x’s and o’s of Hillary Clinton’s defeat (although he failed to mention the little matter of the Comey letters).

    My armchair take is that Hillary lost because she wasn’t a naturally talented candidate. No genius of x’s and o’s was likely to have elected her. Hillary was one of the most experienced and capable public servants ever to run for President. Yet she critically lacked the je ne sais qua of an Angela Merkle, Margaret Thatcher or Theresa May.

    I know Hillary, like her and respect her, and that knowledge biased my assessment of her broader appeal. But Hillary’s loyalists, including me, should not have been surprised by her lack of curb appeal. After all, she lost her own party’s nomination in 2008 to an unknown, inexperienced black man with an Islamic name. This time, she was taken to the wire by a nutty, little-known 75 year old socialist. Those who said that Donald Trump was the only Republican she could beat got it backwards. Hillary was the only Democrat Donald Trump could beat.

    Also working against Hillary was her long history in the political spotlight. Her record both defined her and prevented her from pivoting to more populist themes like those of her primary rival, Bernie Sanders. It would have been patently hypocritical, for example, for Hillary (a former Senator from New York) to have blasted Wall Street.

    Hillary’s campaign professionals, as poll and data-driven as they were, surely knew these shortcomings, and decided that Hillary’s best chance was to focus on Donald Trump, whose negatives were (and remain) larger than Hillary’s. It wasn’t a bad call just because it didn’t work. It was probably the only call.


Dickie Scruggs is one of Oxford’s best-known former attorneys who now expresses his passion for adult education through the GED in a unique state-wide program he has developed, aptly called “Second Chance.” Scruggs is a well known Democrat and anchors the position of the Left in Point/No-Point. He can be reached at DickScruggs@gmail.com.

Steve Vassallo of Oxford is a frequent contributor to HottyToddy.com covering a wide range of subjects. An arch conservative, the popular columnist holds the political position of the Right in Point/No-Point. He can be reached at sovassallo@gmail.com.

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