Hillary Clinton’s Electoral College loss was so narrow, one can plausibly argue for the decisive impact of myriad individual factors, many of which were outside of the candidate’s control: There’s considerable evidence that James Comey’s late October surprise helped propel late-deciders into Trump’s corner; the hacks of the DNC and John Podesta’s emails saddled the campaign with a relentless churn of negative headlines; the media’s disproportionate coverage of the email scandal left voters with the false impression that Clinton and Trump were roughly equivalent in terms of personal ethics and susceptibility to corruption.
But then, one can also point to the decision to campaign in Arizona but not in Wisconsin, or to direct the campaign’s ground game not to waste any time on trying to persuade unfriendly voters, or to prosecute the case against Donald Trump primarily on grounds of fitness and moral values, rather than on the regressiveness of his economic agenda.
In an interview with ABC 7, Bill de Blasio emphasized that last critique. Asked to opine on whether Bernie Sanders would have defeated Trump, the New York mayor replied, “We don’t know how all the facts would have played out. I think Bernie would have had some real strengths but also some real weaknesses. I think the message would have won the election, the message would have won the election.”
De Blasio argued that Clinton’s policy platform aligned with the same progressive message that propelled Sanders’s campaign, but he maintained that Clinton could have done more to highlight her vision of economic change.
“I say it with tremendous respect for her, and again, she won 2.6 million more votes than Donald Trump so it’s kind of hard to ignore that fact,” de Blasio said. “But I believe if she had had a message of economic change, it would have overwhelmed a lot of what Trump was putting forward, I think it would have helped her to keep some of those states.”
De Blasio endorsed Clinton during the primary, but not before making a big show of withholding that endorsement on the grounds that he needed to hear more about “her larger vision [for] addressing income inequality.”
So it’s not too surprising that de Blasio would posit insufficient emphasis on progressive economics as one cause of Clinton’s defeat. The left wing of the Democratic Party is in search of non-elderly national leaders, and de Blasio has given many indications that he fancies such a role.