My First Look Back

The first 20 minutes after a close loss in sports are the mentally and emotionally the toughest. At the games conclusion comes the sickening realization that you lost. The initial human reaction is to blame the loss on others. Bad weather or a bad call by an official. Those who amass winning records over the long haul don’t do that; they look at the factors under their control. Let’s explore relating that to the 2016 election.

A few days back I wrote of the Russian hacking of the DNC and the subsequent release of unflattering information via Wikileaks. Unless you want to say the Clinton campaign could have upgraded the security on the DNC site there was nothing they could do about the hack and the subsequent release of information. One lesson I’m still waiting for political operatives to learn is to stop putting sensitive information in writing! I realize people are busy, but some things just need to have deniability (learned that from Richard Nixon) and are best conveyed via phone or face-to-face conversations. Phones may be tapped but releasing those tapes is a bit sketchier.

The (mostly innocuous) constant release of e-mails: It kept the story alive in the press and helped Trump rally his base. The campaign knew what the courts had ordered and knew it was coming. The Clinton campaign should have known that their answers to the issue were not resonating with a significant portion of the voters and they should have come totally clean and done it early. That strategy would have made all the subsequent releases a non-story that wouldn’t have dominated precious news cycles.

Of late, much is being made of the impact of fake news including by Hillary Clinton herself. Of course it had a negative impact, but mainly with those who would never have voted for her in the first place. Where it bled over into persuadable but low information voters the huge Hillary ad spending differential should have negated the impact. Again it was something you couldn’t control and have to plan for like you expect a bad call or two in the course of a game. It just happens.

The impact of James Comey’s late in the game acts: I am among the many who believe Comey acted irresponsibly (that’s as kind as I can be) by announcing that the FBI intended (at the point of the announcement it lacked legal authority) to investigate emails on a computer seized in an unrelated investigation that may or may not have been transmitted through Hillary Clinton’s private server. That announcement was generally interpreted (with significant help form the Republicans) as the FBI reopening their investigation into Hillary Clinton. It was incompetence on Comey’s part at best; malicious interference at worst – you decide. Again, a terrible call but part of game day coaching is to plan for the unexpected. There has been more than one “phantom technical” called as part of a “home job”. I remember one that I was on the wrong end of that cost us a game. In the locker room we reviewed the free throws we had missed that game – we could control that.

I’m still waiting for really solid final stats and will write more next month. There is little doubt that Hillary got some bad breaks. You can even call them unprecedented bad breaks in several cases. The bottom line is that she still could have won.

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