Hillary thought she had this in the bag. She raised more money, the (rigged?) polls showed her leading, many people were praising her. Yet, she lost. And her donors are not happy. We know how much they invested. And it’s no small change. They want to know what went wrong.
When Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine greet the very top fundraisers and donors to their failed campaign at New York’s Plaza Hotel on Thursday evening, many of them will have one question in mind: Where’s the autopsy?
The call for a deep and detailed accounting of how Clinton lost a race that she andher donors were absolutely certain she’d win didn’t begin immediately after the election — there was too much shock over her defeat by Donald Trump, and overwhelming grief. Her initial conference call with top backers, which came just days after the outcome, focused primarily on FBI Director Jim Comey’s late campaign-season intervention.
But in the weeks since, the wealthy Democrats who helped pump over $1 billion into Clinton’s losing effort have been urging their local finance staffers, state party officials, and campaign aides to provide a more thorough explanation of what went wrong. With no dispassionate, centralized analysis of how Clinton failed so spectacularly, they insist, how can they be expected to keep contributing to the party?
“A lot of the bundlers and donors still are in shock and disbelief by what happened. They’re looking for some introspection and analysis about what really happened, what worked and what didn’t,” said Ken Martin, chairman of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and a top campaign bundler himself. “It may take some time to do that, but people are still just scratching their heads.”
Or, in the words of a Midwestern fundraiser who’s kept in touch with fellow donors, “A lot of people are saying, ‘I’m not putting another fucking dime in until someone tells me what just happened.’”
Donors recognize that part of the problem is the current fragile state of the party: With the race for its chairmanship raging, the Democratic National Committee has yet to announce any plans for a full post-mortem of its own in the style of Republicans’ 2012 Growth and Opportunity Project, causing some party officials to worry that they may not see one at all — at least until a new chair takes over in the spring.
And while individual Democratic operatives have privately dug into what they think went wrong, there have been no obvious moves from central members of the Clinton team to publish a full accounting.