David Axelrod to Hillary Clinton: Jim Comey didn't tell you not to campaign in Wisconsin

Via the Free Beacon, an enjoyable blue-on-blue hit inspired by Hillary’s “blame me but don’t really blame me” appearance yesterday. America’s collectively running out of interesting things to say about who or what caused Clinton’s defeat, but I suppose a tweet by the president slagging his own FBI director for having given her a “free pass” counts as “interesting.”


I think Larry Sabato’s point pretty well rebuts the “it was Comey’s fault!” theory, and in an economical 140 characters to boot:

For all the hype on the right and the Axelrodian left about Hillary not campaigning in Wisconsin and largely taking Michigan for granted, don’t forget that she could have lost both and still won the election if only Florida and Pennsylvania had gone a tiny bit differently — and she did, of course, compete very hard in both of those states. (In fact, if she had won Florida and Pennsylvania, she could have lost Wisconsin, Michigan, and surprisingly competitive Minnesota to Trump and still squeaked by.) On the other hand, if she had won Florida and Wisconsin had come through for her, she could have lost Michigan and Pennsylvania and still nudged past 270 electoral votes.

Her decision not to show up in Wisconsin should fascinate people not because it was decisive in the election but because it seems to encapsulate the sense of entitlement that Democrats felt about their “blue wall” and the strategic idiocy that marred Clinton’s campaign. It’s one thing for her to have campaigned in a red-state longshot like Arizona in the final month before the election if she knew with zero doubt that she had Wisconsin and Michigan in the bag. It’s another thing for her to have done it when she didn’t know and could have visited those much more competitive states instead. But then, there was a method to her madness. Here’s one of the more amazing anecdotes from the campaign tell-all “Shattered” about her team’s approach to Michigan, or lack thereof:

Clinton’s surprising loss to Bernie Sanders in that state ended up being a harbinger of her poor performance in the Midwest during the general election. Mook and other campaign staff did not take their primary loss as an indication they should concentrate more on the so-called “Rust Belt,” but rather that they should de-emphasize operations there. Per Allen and Parnes: “One of the lessons Mook and his allies took from Michigan was that Hillary was better off not getting into an all-out war with her opponent in states where non-college-educated whites could be the decisive demographic… Mook’s clique looked at the elevation of the Michigan primary as a mistake that shouldn’t be repeated.” So during the general election campaign, Hillary didn’t even set foot in Wisconsin, another “Rust Belt” state. Mook, who preferred targeting likely Clinton voters based on analytics rather than emphasizing a strong ground game to persuade fence-sitters, “wouldn’t provide basic resources like campaign literature” to staffers there.

They knew they were weak in Michigan and Wisconsin so they didn’t campaign there. Better to let sleeping dogs lie, they thought, and hope that voters would vote their usual Democratic way out of habit rather than try to compete there aggressively and risk waking up the locals to how awful Hillary was. Add that to the big pile of things that also aren’t Jim Comey’s fault.