What Went Wrong? How Hillary Lost

She seemed to have a lengthy policy prescription for every problem a voter had — meanwhile, Obama fired up arenas filled with thousands of enthusiastic supporters. She seemed to alternative between offense and defense almost by the day, or by the debate.

Clinton would ultimately find an effective voice as a champion of the working class, powering late victories in states including Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. But by that time, she had lost more ground than she could make up.


Campaigns need money, and Clinton had the top money men and women in the Democratic Party on board from the start. With former President Bill Clinton literally cashing in chits he accumulated going back to the early 1990s, the Clinton campaign always expected to be able to outspend all comers.

Clinton cornered many of the Democratic "whales," the big party fish who regularly write $2,300 checks and have friends who can do the same. But enough high-profile donors liked what they heard in Obama to ensure at least financial competitiveness — all while Clinton went much of 2007 without engaging Obama directly.

Then something else happened: Obama tapped the power of the Internet like no candidate before. His campaign dove into social-networking sites, not just as a means for supporters to connect but for them to start giving money.

Critically, his donors gave in smaller bursts, meaning they could give again and again throughout the campaign, in increments of $100, $50, or less. Clinton raised far more money in $2,300 bursts — giving her quick cash early, but not a base of donors she could go back to repeatedly.

Both candidates raised slightly more than $100 million in 2007 — shattering all previous records. But then Obama began to pull away: He started out-raising Clinton by more than 2-1 early this year, and regularly brought in more than $1 million a day. The extent of Clinton's money woes was kept away from all but the smallest circle of advisers, costing the campaign valuable time in making up the gap.

Clinton would ultimately be forced to float herself more than $11 million in loans, even while falling further into the red. Her debt to Mark Penn's firm alone has been pegged at $10 million.

The growing financial edge, combined with the elongated nature of the primary season, meant that Obama could compete financially practically everywhere, while Clinton had to make tough spending decisions in critical primaries.

By the end of the campaign, when Clinton regularly mentioned her Web site in speeches it was part of a flagging attempt to create an online donor base that Obama had been harnessing for more than a year.


Terry McAuliffe and top Clinton adviser Harold Ickes know more about the Democrats' delegate selection process than virtually anyone on the planet — but you never would have known that from the Clinton campaign plan.

Clinton aides always said that the race was for convention delegates, yet they never really played it that way.

Nursing a big early lead in superdelegates — party insiders, many of whom felt deep loyalty to the Clintons, who get automatic votes at the convention — the campaign played a traditional early-state strategy that sought to have the campaign wrapped up by Feb. 5.

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