Hillary Clinton, of course, received the Democratic Party nomination in 2016 and was widely expected to beat Trump but she lost to him (though she won California by 4,269,978 in the popular vote, and so beat Trump by 2,864,974 in the nationwide popular vote, while she lost all other states by 1,405,002 votes, and so she would have been California’s president if she had won, but the rest of the nation wouldn’t have been happy).
Among the top reasons why Democrats in primaries and caucuses voted for Clinton was that they thought she would have a higher likelihood of beating the Republican nominee than Sanders did. This was the impression that the Democratic National Committee spread, and the party’s voters believed in it. However, by the time when Election Day rolled around, the passion that Republicans felt for their nominee, Trump, was much stronger than was the passion that Democrats felt for their nominee, Clinton. During the Democratic primaries, polls were showing that the Democrats who were voting for Sanders to become their party’s nominee were far more passionate in their support of him than was the case regarding the Democrats who were voting for Clinton to become the Democratic nominee. And nobody questions that Trump was the passion-candidate in the Republican Party’s primaries and caucuses.
On 1 May 2017, McClatchy newspapers headlined “Democrats say they now know exactly why Clinton lost” and reported:
A select 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, in fact, 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 percent of Clinton’s failure to reach Obama’s vote total in 2012 was because she lost these voters. …
Although Clinton has blamed her loss on Putin, and on Sanders—and perhaps if Biden wins the nomination he will likewise blame Putin and Sanders if he subsequently loses to Trump—the passion factor is actually much stronger an influence on whom the winner of an electoral contest will be than losing candidates wish to admit or publicly acknowledge; and it could turn out to be the case in 2020, just the same as it did in 2016.
On 24 August 2017, NPR bannered “Here’s How Many Bernie Sanders Supporters Ultimately Voted For Trump” and reported that, “12 percent of people who voted for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries voted for President Trump in the general election. That is according to the data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES)—a massive election survey of around 50,000 people.”
WI: 9% of Sanders voters voted for Trump.
MI: 8% of Sanders voters voted for Trump.
PA: 16% of Sanders voters voted for Trump.
Shaffner failed, however, to mention that Sanders beat Clinton in Wisconsin and won 570,192 votes in the Democratic primary there, and that Trump beat Clinton there by 22,748 votes, and that 9% of Sanders’s voters having voted for Trump there constituted 51,317 Sanders-Trump voters, and that this was 2.26 times as high as was Trump’s 22,747-vote victory-margin in Wisconsin, and, consequently: Sanders’s voters who voted for Trump were 2.26 times Trump’s victory-margin against Clinton there; so, clearly, Trump became president because of the huge number of Sanders voters who voted for Trump against Clinton. And it was the same thing that happened in each of the other two crucial states that Trump won in 2016.
Sanders likewise beat Clinton in Michigan and won 598,943 votes in the Democratic primary there, and Trump beat Clinton there by 10,704 votes, and 8% of Sanders voters having voted for Trump there constituted 47,915 Sanders-Trump voters, and this was 4.47 times as high as was Trump’s victory-margin in Michigan, so that Sanders’s voters who voted for Trump were 4.47 times Trump’s victory-margin against Clinton there.
Similarly, though Clinton beat Sanders in Pennsylvania, where Sanders won 731,881 votes in the Democratic primary, Trump beat Clinton there by 44,292 votes, and 16% of Sanders voters having voted for Trump there constituted 117,101 Sanders-Trump voters, and this was 2.64 times as high as Trump’s victory-margin in Pennsylvania, so that Sanders’s voters who voted for Trump were 2.64 times Trump’s victory-margin against Clinton there.
Of course, virtually all of the primary voters for Sanders would have been voting against Trump if Sanders had been the Democratic National Committee’s choice as the nominee instead of Clinton, whom they chose instead. By contrast, almost none of Clinton’s voters in the primaries would have voted against Clinton and for Trump in the final election (though some of them would have voted third-party or not at all—just as happened with Clinton’s actually being the Democratic nominee). Sanders would have overwhelmingly beaten Trump according to all of the nationally-polled match-ups—by far larger margins in a Sanders-Trump contest than Clinton was shown likely to in a Trump-Clinton contest. The DNC basically chose the overwhelmingly weaker nominee (and sometimes they even did it blatantly), and so they lost to Trump instead of to have their billionaire donors lose to Sanders and to the American public by Sanders becoming the nominee and then the president. Keeping the support from their billionaire donors was the DNC’s top priority, in 2016. Of course, America’s voting public generally don’t know that both the DNC and the RNC are far more committed to keeping the support from their billionaire donors than they are committed to winning elections. This is why those voters pay close heed to what their party’s leaders say about which candidates are ‘electable’ and which ones aren’t. The voters don’t understand how politics actually works, in today’s America—they think that winning the current general election is a Party official’s top priority. They think that Party professionals are professionals at selecting winners, but instead party professionals are professionals at pleasing their party’s billionaires. If a voter wants to please him- or her-self instead of please a group of billionaires, that voter ought to vote for whomever that voter thinks would best serve that voter and not serve any group of billionaires
As the Huffington Post reported on March 4, the day after Joe Biden’s huge Super-Tuesday win, “‘Voters liked both candidates but clearly consolidated around the one they saw as most electable,’ said Jared Leopold, who was the communications director for the Democratic Governors’ Association during the race. ‘The intraparty ideological fight pales in comparison to the thirst to beat Donald Trump and his buddies.’” Those people’s top concern is to please the few individuals who fund their careers. Winning the current electoral contest isn’t actually their #1 concern, though voters think it is. The party professionals have a longer-term, personally career-oriented, goal in mind—pleasing their bosses’ bosses.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.