Throughout the election, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted nonsense about Hillary Clinton. Remember the one that read "Most corrupt candidate ever!" complete with a Star of David and stacks of money? Once he won, they just shifted. He started attacking the truthful claims that she won the popular vote by a margin of about 2.8 million, making completely absurd arguments that voter fraud gave her an edge. Well, brace yourself. Trump may have actually tweeted something true about Clinton — or at least her campaign strategy.
This all came as Clinton's popular vote victory was certified. Headlines around the country read that she finished with nearly three million more ballots cast than he did. She had about 48 percent of the vote and Trump had 46 percent nationwide. Of course, that's not how we decide the winner here in the United States, as Trump was quick to remind us — albeit in his own self-aggrandizing way: "Campaigning to win the Electoral College is much more difficult & sophisticated than the popular vote. Hillary focused on the wrong states!"
Whether campaigning to win the Electoral College is harder or not is probably up for debate. But what he said about Clinton and her campaign's strategy would seem to stand to reason, unlike what so much of what the president-elect uploads to social media.
"Hillary focused on the wrong states" is perhaps a fair argument, because she lost some of the relatively safe states for Democrats, like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Had her campaign invested more of the resources it spent in North Carolina or Arizona, for example, in the Rust Belt, it could have won her the election. There's no way to know for sure, but her loss was so close that more organizers or TV ads could have made the difference. There's no evidence that she under-invested on purpose in these states, so you must assume that's something the Clinton campaign would do differently in retrospect.
What we do know — thanks to the Time Person of the Year article on Trump — is that Clinton's camp reframed their argument in the final weeks. They'd started off trying to focus on economic arguments, that people were working harder but getting paid the same or less, and that Clinton would work to improve pay and conditions. Late in the campaign, they switched gears to attack the offensive things that Trump said and did. That backfired among the white working class, who supported her less after the messaging changed. These states Trump is talking about have a larger white working class population than most.
It's frustrating to think that slight changes in strategy could see us inaugurating our first Madame President this January, but it's good to learn these lessons and not repeat them in the future. The best thing would arguably be to get rid of the Electoral College, but if we're still playing within this framework in 2020, we've got to show up ready to play the game by the current rules.
I'll just end by saying that Trump is putting out these tweets to try to consolidate his win, when in reality he either lost or squeaked out a win, depending of course on how you're counting. He went on to tweet Wednesday, "I would have done even better in the election, if that is possible, if the winner was based on popular vote — but would campaign differently." It's important to put things in perspective and realize that he barely won the Electoral College and has no mandate.
So Democrats need to regroup and plan better to win the next election, yes, but we all need to remind Trump and Republicans that we won't stand for discriminatory legislation that hurts the most vulnerable among us.