Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign (book review)


In Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign, author Jonathan Allen presents a highly readable and compelling political narrative underlining the myriad of deficiencies in Hillary Clinton's 2016 Presidential campaign. Allen places much of the blame for Clinton's loss on the shoulders of millennial big-data champion Robby Mook. Accordingly, the larger lesson here suggests that the overuse of analytics and big data over gut, human instinct, and common sense can lead to utter failure. You can't poll-test everything.

Mook wanted to put in place a "strategy" to show the American public the real Hillary Clinton. When it is called a strategy, well, it rings hollow. Authenticity can't be contrived.

There is still place in the world for business, government, and other organizations to construct visions and act effectively without reducing human beings en masse to a collection of data points that can be sold and tossed around by the elites. Clinton's campaign seemed hell-bent on trusting their data-based models to win the election, failing to campaign in working-class rust belt states, and instead spending much of the home stretch raising millions of dollars in ultra-wealthy east coast enclaves, wining and dining with the likes of Jimmy Buffet, Harvey Weinstein, Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake, and hedge fund CEO's.

If the 2016 Presidential election demonstrates anything, it is that the resulting backlash against the elites often produces less than desirable results, and that data, analytics, and voter turnout models can be a useful tool, but shouldn't replace the gut instinct, philosophy, and the deep democratic commitment that could form the real substance of a campaign that resonates with the public. Allen's book does a good job at suggesting, but not prescribing, this path forward.




Recently, there's been talk among the chatter classes of Oprah running for President in 2020. I would've thought by now, given the instructive if not devastating campaign of 2016, that Democrats would abandon their penchant for Hollywood, celebrity, tech-billionaires, and coastal elites. The intellectual center of gravity in the party has drifted far from its blue-collar roots. Endless Trump gossip, celebrity obsessions,  and empty horse-race speculation are about as spiritually and substantively deep as artisan bottled water. I hope this book doesn't need to be written again. 





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