We’ve all heard plenty of theories for why Donald Trump won the election: racism, sexism, xenophobia, and, well, Russia. And a number of arguments have more to do with why Hillary Clinton lost than anything Trump did to win.
But now the Democrats say their own data reveals specifically why Clinton lost—and it complicates any attempt to rationalize the bizarre results as a case of racist white men unleashed.
That’s because Democrats say the real reason the election went the way it did was because of the number of voters who cast their ballots for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 and switched their allegiance to Trump in 2016.
“We have to make sure we learn the right lesson from 2016, that we don’t just draw the lesson that makes us feel good at night, make us sleep well at night,” Democratic strategist Matt Canter said of the findings.
The report came on the eve of remarks by Clinton, who said she would have won the election if not for FBI Director James Comey revealing that she was under investigation by the agency over leaked emails from a private server she used while serving as secretary of state.
According to a report by McClatchy, the so-called “Obama-Trump voters” accounted for a two-thirds majority of the reasons Clinton ultimately lost the electoral college vote. McClatchy says several members of Clinton’s campaign team have reached a similar conclusion based on the same data.
Interesting for those thinking ahead to 2020 is that, according to Canter, turning out more of the Democratic base won’t be enough to sway the next election in their favor. Instead, the party will need to win over more moderate but conservative-leaning white, middle-class voters that helped Trump win swing states like Pennsylvania and Michigan.
“This idea that Democrats can somehow ignore this constituency and just turn out more of our voters, the math doesn’t work,” Canter said. “We have to do both.”
The good news is that Obama did well with these voters in two elections, meaning these voters are less ideological and more likely to vote for the candidate best aligned with their economic and personal interests.