Days of Change

The Snub Effect

December 14, 2016
Comments Off on The Snub Effect

Pride goeth before a fall.

My conspiracy theory about the 2012 election is that the Obama team made sure he tanked the first debate against Romney in order to make Democrats afraid that unless they personally voted for him, he could lose. In 2008, his spokespeople used the term “high information voters” to make his supporters feel like they were special and more engaged than the average voter. Aside from the bandwagon effect, where people want to vote for a winner, Obama used the snob effect, making people feel like they were almost unique.

Politico is the first publication to document a Clinton campaign post-mortem with some criticism. While they focus on Michigan, the story of Clinton’s campaign headquartered in Brooklyn ignored many battlegrounds in the belief that their computer model showed that they could and would win without the traditional retail campaigning labor unions were famous for.

This story highlights two fundamental mistakes of Clinton 2016. First is that they literally used identity politics to determine the way someone would vote based on a series of demographic factors (age, race, gender, income). They compounded that error by focusing only on turning out those groups on Election Day. The most reliable Democrats turned out in lower numbers in Michigan, for example, and the people Clinton was counting on were far more likely to vote against her than her bean counters thought.

If Hillary Clinton added 1.5% to the popular vote in 3 states, she would have won. However, her team often snubbed state organizations who wanted small amounts of money to knock on doors and hand out literature. Team Clinton didn’t think pamphlets were important, but what they didn’t seem to understand was that having volunteers meeting Democrats might have established more personal connections with the small number of people excited about Hillary. Instead, they were snubbed, often given pointless tasks as they waged a badly planned advertising strategy.

The reason many of us did not expect a Trump win was because Clinton had the ground organization ready to go. The reality was that they did not use it. I thought Romney was going to win in 2008, only to find that they lied about their own polling. This may be the last time I put any faith in the bandwagon effect. It’s much more likely that the campaign with the most fearful supporters has a better chance of winning.


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