I'll get straight to the point: Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential race to Donald Trump for practically the same exact reason she lost the 2008 Democratic primary race to Barack Obama: she failed to convince enough voters that she was the candidate of change for a country in decline headed in the wrong direction and wanting change.
Obama and Clinton go toe-to-toe over Iraq.
In 2008 with a war-weary America having turned against the Iraq war (thinking, like Vietnam*, it was a costly mistake) the Democrats were looking for the most convincingly anti-war/anti-Bush candidate; and they chose Barack Obama over Hillary because unlike Hillary (who had been hawkish on Iraq and supported Bush's war from the start) he Obama early on in 2002 gave a speech in Chicago where he absolutely opposed military intervention in Iraq. This gave Obama way more credibility with Democrats than Hillary (she didn't fully denounce the war until 2006) that he was the safer and more trustworthy candidate who as President wouldn't repeat Bush's mistake in Iraq. Obama then, the anti-Bush peace candidate, went on to defeat pro-Iraq war hawk John McCain convincing voters that he was John McBush and would be Bush's third disastrous interventionist term. In short, it was the Iraq war that defeated Hillary Clinton (and John McCain) in 2008; and incredibly it would be the Iraq war again, and the perception that she was too pro-war and hawkish, that would come back to haunt Hillary in 2016 and cost her the election.
*Oddly, it was Texan President Lyndon Johnson that started the land war in Vietnam and Texan President George Bush that started the land war in Iraq.
Trump and Jeb Bush spar over U.S. invasion of Iraq
Jeb, why did your brother attack and destabalize the Middle East by attacking Iraq when there were no weapons of mass destruction? Bad info?
Indeed, when Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination he had learned the lesson of 2008: understanding that the nation was still very war-weary and hostile to the Iraq war, and certain that the hawkish Hillary would be the Democratic nominee, like Barack Obama Trump would run as the anti-Bush, anti-war candidate of change, and in a surprising radical way: he'd attack Bush, his presidency and war legacy from the hard Left which put him to the Left of Hillary. This attack wasn't done from personal animosity toward President Bush (a good and decent man who kept us safe after 9/11) but to make it perfectly clear to the voting public that a Trump presidency would not be a reckless, neo-con, interventionist third term of George Bush.
Did battlefield casualties cost Hillary the Hawk the blue turned red battleground states of war weary Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennslyvania? "Yes," says authors Kriner and Shen (see).
And the strategy worked brilliantly, in ways that no one not even the fortunate, lucky, unconventional Donald Trump could foresee. True, the overarching, dominant issue that won the late undecided voters for Trump, economy and jobs, was the major factor in his historic election. But in the three key states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania with its suffering, financially stressed blue-collar workers and eroding middle class there was another factor at play that everyone missed until it was discovered in a research paper published last June by political scientists Douglas Kriner and Francis Shen. These two found that Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were among the most war-weary, anti-Bush states in the Union. Why? Because they suffered very high casualty rates during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. And that was enough to give Trump (who went beyond Obama in 2008 in that he denounced both wars as "total wasteful disasters") the edge he needed to win those states and the presidency.
In other words, the perception that Trump was dramatically less of a war hawk, less interventionist (he vowed to defeat ISIS) and more truly anti-Bush than Hillary - that he was the less likely of the two to involve us in new costly wars like Iraq and Afghanistan (defeating ISIS would not be such a war) - was a large factor deciding his victory. Amazingly this made Trump seem more radically anti-war than candidate Obama himself who famously said in 2008 that the Afghan war was "the smart, good, right war," while Iraq was the "dumb, wrong, bad war." For Trump, almost sounding like pacifist Code Pink, campaigned on the radical leftist notion that both wars were equally dumb, wrong and bad; both were Bush's catastrophic mistakes - mistakes that he wouldn't repeat as President.
Indeed, Trump at one point said that 9/11 or no 9/11 he would never have gone into Afghanistan. But when pressed on how he would've responded to the 9/11 attack he said that if he were president in 2001 there would have been no need for a response because the attack would not have happened. Outrageously Trump claimed that his immigration policies restricting Moslem immigration would have kept the 19 al-Qaida hijackers out of the country thus preventing the 9/11 attack and the need to invade Afghanistan.
Though this absurdity was roundly denounced Left, Right and Center it nevertheless had the effect of making Trump seem like a borderline isolationist, outside the mainstream of GOP foreign policy. Indeed, not only did it seem Trump was way to the Left of Bush and his party but to the Left of Obama when he defeated Hillary in 2008. And just as Obama eked out a narrow victory over Hillary, winning more delegates while getting less of the popular vote (see), so did Trump in the general election win more states while getting less of the popular vote. The parallels are striking.
It's incredible how Trump pulled this off. For it began with him insisting against the facts that like Obama he opposed the Iraq war from the start. True, during the 2002 Howard Stern interview Trump gave a soft, ambivalent sounding "yes" to military intervention in Iraq - way short of Hillary's gung-ho, hard-line, get rid of Saddam hawkishness (that she would later recant); but Trump insisting and doubling down that in his heart he was against Iraq from the start, and then accusing Bush from the hard Left that "he knew there were no WMDs in Iraq; and that he lied us into the war" solidified his image as an anti-war dove and man of peace; this made it impossible for Hillary and her media allies to do to Trump what Obama did to McCain in 2008 and Romney four years later: convince voters that Trump would be the third disastrous term of George W. Bush. Indeed, out foxed and out maneuvered by Trump's anti-Bush rhetoric Hillary had to resort to extreme accusations of sexism, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and the like to stop him. And it miserably failed. Why? Because she was just too much of an untrustworthy, worrisome war hawk.
Poor Hillary didn't have a chance. Her first mistake was to accept the job of Secretary of State (SoS). As I show HERE if she hadn't been SoS she'd be president today. But what hurt her as SoS with the war-weary voters of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin was her backing of Obama's intervention in Libya; this led to the Benghazi disaster that hurt her and later metastisized from the Benghazi hearings into emailgate and Comey's investigation; as I show HERE Obama's intervention in Libya (backed by Hillary) with the no fly zone emboldened Syrians to rise up violently against Assad where 500,000 have been killed, and caused the refugee crisis for Europe. But then Hillary made another costly blunder: she vowed that as President she would establish a no fly zone over Syria to assist the rebels on the ground (like she and Obama did in Libya) to topple the Assad regime - thus chancing a military conflict with Russia.
This so alarmed dovish, socialist Green Party candidate Jill Stein that she publicly stated "that on the issue of war Trump was the safer candidate than Clinton (see)*." And Trump at several rallies adeptly exploiting Stein said, "She's right about me. Believe me, I'd make a safer President." And in the dovish states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, as Shren and Kirner prove, Trump's anti-war message resonated with enough war weary voters to give him a narrow victory and the 45th Presidency. It's damn amazing.
*Stein probably also had in mind Hillary's threats in 2007 and 2008 to use nuclear weapons in the Middle East (see and see).
HOW JOHN MCCAIN, BARACK OBAMA AND HILLARY CLINTON ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ISIS AND THE ORLANDO GAY MASSACRE