Boston Globe Op-Ed: Hillary Lost Thanks to One Word, and It's Not 'Russia'

December 10th, 2016 5:10 PM

Now that President Obama has officially joined the crowd which wants America to believe that it's Russia's fault that Donald Trump won the presidential election, it's quite timely to revisit an item published in the Boston Globe during the week before Thanksgiving.

The author, Diane Hessan, is an experienced entrepreneur who had a four-month special assignment to help the Hillary Clinton campaign "understand undecided voters in swing states." Hessan appears to have done fine work, which in turn appears to have been ignored. Her post-campaign conclusion? Hillary Clinton lost undecideds in key swing states because of one word — and it wasn't "Russia," a word not seen even once in her writeup.

Hessan, unlike so many leftists who simply won't look in the mirror to see where the problem is, appears to have learned quite a bit from the experience, which also likely goes a long way towards explaining why she has been a successful entrepreneur (HT longtime commenter Gary Hall; bolds are mine):

Understanding the undecided voters

... At first, I couldn’t understand how anyone could be undecided. The distinction between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was so clear to me, the gap so wide. Much to my surprise, it was easy to find the Undecideds: people who had significant enough reservations about both candidates that they were searching for a sign, looking for more information, or just waiting it out until November.

Over the summer, I found and interviewed over 300 undecided voters, and 250 of them agreed to stay in touch, to send me weekly diary entries about their emotions, what they were thinking about both Clinton and Trump, and how they were leaning when it came to their vote. I had no responsibility to change their views; instead, I synthesized the data that I was collecting, and reported in to the campaign. I also added the insights that I had and made regular suggestions about how the campaign might better articulate its positions and modify its strategies.

... George’s story was one I ultimately heard over and over: He had lived in that part of Pennsylvania (Wilkes-Barre) his entire life, had worked hard, raised a family, paid his debts, sacrificed to get his kids through Wilkes University, and tried to do the right thing for others. “The government never helped me, but I was OK with that,” he said. “I made mistakes, had some scary moments, and my wife worked also at the local library to help out. I paid my bills, including my doctor bills.

“Now I see my tax dollars going to handouts for others who don’t want to work as hard as I did, and I can’t afford my health care.  Everyone is being taken care of but me. I feel left out, and it makes me feel that I want my country back.”

Hessan doesn't specifically indicate it, but she should have see the final two bolded sections as a red flag that ObamaCare was a millstone hanging around all Democrats' necks, especially Hillary Clinton's. That's because the left has long considered her the brave pioneer who tried and failed to nationalize health care in the early 1990s. Mrs. Clinton's problem was compounded when Obama injected himself so deeply into the race during its final weeks and made the election a referendum on his performance and legacy, which obviously includes what the press still obsessively describes as his "signature achievement."

In earlier text, Hessan revealed that "George" is 58 years old. Let's look at what he and his wife would face if they are both the same age, have combined earnings of over $64,160, and need to buy insurance on the ObamaCare exchange. (If "George" is not in these circumstances, odds are he knows people who are.)

The estimated annual Silver Plan premium for their area for 2017 is $19,256, i.e., 30 percent of the subsidy-ending gross income threshold — for very high-deductible insurance. The actual range for eligible plans runs from $15,060 to $23,772, with individual deductibles ranging from $1,000 to $6,800.

Until ObamaCare came along, people like "George," or people he knows in these circumstances, could be outraged about "tax dollars going to handouts," but at least they got by financially. That simply isn't so when one has to pay out roughly $1,300 to $2,000 per month just for health insurance (by the way, if "George" and his wife were both 64, the estimated annual premium would be $22,671), and it can certainly affect one's attitude towards "handouts."

The point here is ObamaCare likely changed the mental outlook of a lot of people who had previously been inclined to accept the core pillars of the entitlements system, because its costs were relatively invisible. Thanks to ObamaCare, they aren't invisible any more. They're very painful, and horribly unfair. All Hillary Clinton promised to do was to tweak this absolutely unacceptable setup.

Getting back to Hessan's column:

... There was one moment when I saw more undecided voters shift to Trump than any other, when it all changed, when voters began to speak differently about their choice. It wasn’t FBI Director James Comey, Part One or Part Two; it wasn’t Benghazi or the e-mails or Bill Clinton’s visit with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the tarmac. No, the conversation shifted the most during the weekend of Sept. 9, after Clinton said, “You can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.”

All hell broke loose.

George told me that his neighborhood was outraged, that many of his hard-working, church-going, family-loving friends resented being called that name. He told me that he looked up the word in the dictionary, and that it meant something so bad that there is no hope, like the aftermath of a tsunami. You know, he said, Clinton ended up being the biggest bully of them all. Whereas Trump bullied her, she bullied Wilkes Barre.

Things were not the same after that, at least with my voters.

Note, at least based on Hessan's observations, that Mrs. Clinton's "deplorables" statement broke through the fog, despite the best efforts of the establishment press to downplay and ignore it. The Associated Press covered it, but it baldly lied in its headline about what Mrs. Clinton had said, claiming that she only tagged "many," not half, of Trump's supporters as "deplorables."

It only took a week for the press to pretend that Mrs. Clinton's comment never happened. On September 17, the New York Times, in an item temporarily fretting that Mrs. Clinton might lose, didn't even mention that statement.

Fortunately, Donald Trump and New Media didn't let it die, which breaks Hessan's heart. But she has learned a valuable lesson:

If you had asked me to describe a Trump voter last spring, I would have been largely wrong about their motivations, dreams, and even their values. Sure, there are extremists among them, but it was eye-opening to realize how legitimate the concerns of many are, and to realize that, if I just listened hard, I would find that I have more in common with the Georges of the world that I could ever have imagined. Empathy — trying to understand others as deeply as possible — is an important first step, whether around the Thanksgiving table or in social media. President Obama said it eloquently last week, noting that our election is ultimately an intramural scrimmage because we are all on one team.

Great points, but I hope she realizes, based on his actions since Thanksgiving, and especially his paranoid promotion of the idea that Donald Trump won the presidency because of Russian intervention, that Obama doesn't really mean what he said about how "we are all on one team."

Is anyone in the press bringing up the "deplorables" factor Diane Hessan tagged as the presidential election's turning point? Barely, if at all.

A search at the Associated Press's main national site, where entries tend to remain available for about two weeks, doesn't return any articles containing that word. The most recent use of the word at the AP's "Big Story" site is November 13 (a few later items appear because they use the word "deplore," but are unrelated to the U.S. election).

Though the "D-word" has appeared five times at the New York Times in the past two weeks, only one has been in the context of leftists trying to analyze Mrs. Clinton's loss. It's a November 26 editorial, which only acknowledges that "[h]er characterization of a swath of Mr. Trump’s supporters as 'deplorables' and 'irredeemable' didn’t help." The bigger problem? "Sexism and racial bigotry obviously played roles in her defeat."

Cross-posted at