The Current

Why did Hillary Clinton lose to Trump? New book looks inside failed campaign

A Washington journalist with sources deep inside Hillary Clinton's campaign reveals how overconfidence and a flawed candidate doomed her run for the U.S. presidency.
Pundits and pollsters said Hillary Clinton would become the next U.S. president. But Washington journalist Jonathan Allen with sources deep inside her campaign reveal how overconfidence doomed her run for the U.S. presidency almost from the start. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

On Nov. 8, 2016, most of the political world thought Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had a lock on the White House. But as the night wore on, it became clear that Donald Trump was going to win in one of the great upsets in U.S. political history.

Hillary Clinton's concession speech

6 years ago
Duration 12:08
Democratic presidential candidate speaks to supporters in New York Wednesday

Washington journalist Jonathan Allen had sources deep inside the Clinton campaign. He and co-author Amie Parnes reveal how overconfidence and a flawed candidate impaired Clinton's chances of the U.S. presidency almost from the start in their book, Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign.

In her view, she had let the country down by allowing Donald Trump to become the president.- Jonathan Allen on Hillary Clinton's disappointment on election night

According to Allen, Clinton could never really connect or understand the electorate she was trying to win over.

"One of the key problems for secretary Clinton was her inability to articulate a message to voters to let them believe that she was in it for them and not for herself."

After a particularly bad primary loss to Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, Allen tells The Current's Friday host Kelly Crowe that Clinton told an aid, "I don't really understand what is going on with the electorate right now. I can't get my arms around it."

"She saw the populism, she saw the anger but she really couldn't put her finger on what it was she could do to harness that, or at least thwart it." 
Journalist Jonathan Allen says Clinton's fall in her campaign was her inability to get voters to believe she 'was in it for them and not for herself.' (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

And when Donald Trump won the Republican nomination, the Democrats were elated.

"This was a dream come true for the Democrats, they believed," says Allen.

"They looked at Donald Trump and thought this was a guy who can be beaten. He makes so many mistakes on the campaign trail, says so many things that are in impolitic, and they believe that they could disqualify him from the presidency and that became her strategy in the general election."

But all that hope quickly soured. 

Allen says there was a feeling in the campaign that they couldn't catch a break. That whenever something went right on the election trail, something would come along and overtake it.

He believes that Clinton blaming the Russians and former FBI director James Comey for her defeat overlooks some of the other factors that doomed her run, including a rise in Obamacare premiums. 

Allen tells Crowe that on election night, Clinton did not want to take a call from President Obama telling her it was time to concede the election.

"It all sort of struck her at once," he says.

"She had let herself down. She had let her party down. She had let the president down and his legacy, and in her view, she had let the country down by allowing Donald Trump to become the president."

Listen to the full segment at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal.