James Hohlman, Washington Post: Hillary could lose if she makes the following mistakes:
- Complacency. 2. Unforced Errors and Gaffes. 3. Not Inspiring. 4. Not being likeable enough. 5. Move too far to the right. 6. Move too far to the left. 7. Bungling VP selection. 8. Allowing herself to get defined as an insider. 9. Not directly engaging Trump’s attacks. 10. Bill going “off the reservation.” 11. Being overly secretive. 12. Getting indicted.
Some of these potential mistakes will not be objectively reported but spun or reported subjectively in an attempt to manipulate voters, depending on the news outlet, because they either want drama, a tight contest between Trump and Clinton, or they are ideologically opposed to Clinton.
I predict that Fox News, Breitbart.com, Washington Times, Daily Caller, will all portray Clinton as making fatal mistakes during the campaign.
So it will be up to voters to decide if the Clinton campaign has made these mistakes and if such mistakes are so egregious that it’s preferable to vote for Donald Trump.
Complacency. This would not just be a “top-down” fault of Hillary Clinton herself but suggests that the Democratic Party’s ground game of volunteers targeting voters, going door to door, and getting out the vote will fall short, presumably because they aren’t inspired enough or afraid enough of Donald Trump. I seriously doubt this will be the case. The Democratic ground game has been built up since 2004, was greatly strengthened by Barack Obama’s and Clinton’s past campaigns. The primary contests between Bernie Sanders and Clinton strengthened the ground game and identified thousands of potential volunteers for the fall.
Gaffes are subjective. The 10-second clip of Hillary’s “gaffe” that “we’re going to eliminate a lot of jobs in the coal industry,” when seen in context, I don’t see as a gaffe at all, but strikingly honest. Hillary as president couldn’t bring back jobs in the coal industry if she wanted to, and Donald Trump can’t either. Surely most voters in coal country understand that. She was offering money for retraining coal miners and bringing more industry to Appalachia.
Not inspiring? I have seen Hillary speak during this campaign, and sometimes she can be quite inspiring, like after she won the New York primary. Sometimes she seems tired and hoarse and not inspiring whatsoever. Any candidate who gives several speeches a day is going to be sometimes inspiring and sometimes flat.
Not being likeable enough? She can’t get a personality transplant, there’s not much she can do about this. It’s more a matter of how she acts, how she performs on stage and which clips are widely broadcast.
Moves too far to the right or left? I’m sure she will be accused of both, probably at the same time, depending on the ideology and agenda of the accusers.
Bungling VP nomination? There will be attempts to take down or take out whoever she picks, there will be attacks on whoever she chooses. The challenge will be not to pick someone who becomes a liability with supporters or has to resign from the ticket before the election. At best, a vice presidential nominee can solidify support and enthusiasm and maybe help pull in one swing state.
Defined as an insider? Not sure what this means. She’s highly experienced. She should tout her experience and ability to get things done, with detailed proposals on how she will get things done. I guess if there are more revelations about sweetheart deals or profiting from her time in public service, that could be a problem, but most of those attack lines are at this stage well known.
Not directly engaging Trump’s attacks? I don’t think she should respond to his personal attacks or stoop to his level. She can have surrogates do that. And she can hammer him every day for not releasing his taxes or meeting the standards of providing policy details that every presidential nominee for the last 30 years has met.
Bill goes off the reservation? Yes, Bill Clinton could hurt his wife’s campaign if he proves undisciplined. It’s true he apparently let down his guard as a candidate in 1992 and as president in 1995/6, and hurt his wife’s campaign in 2008 during the South Carolina primary. It’s unknown whether these were lapses in discipline or a permanent character flaw.
Being overly secretive? This also can be a matter of spin and subjectivity. By now Hillary must know that early disclosure is almost always better than letting a “scandal” drag on and fester.
Getting indicted? At this stage this is out of her hands, as it would be based on behavior that has already happened. Depends on what the FBI and Justice Department decide. I know it’s Republican fantasy and wishful thinking that she will be indicted, but it seems highly unlikely.