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Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, 2016

Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, 2016

The 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton was announced in a YouTube video, on April 12, 2015.[6] Hillary Clinton was the 67th United States Secretary of State and served during the first term of the Obama administration, 2009 to 2013. She was previously a United States Senator from New York, 2001 to 2009, and is the wife of former President Bill Clinton, serving as First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001.

Clinton's main competitor in the 2016 Democratic primary election was Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. She received the most support from middle aged and older voters, and from black, Latino, and older female voters. She focused her platform on several issues, including expanding racial, LGBT, and women's rights, raising wages and ensuring equal pay for women, and improving healthcare.

The Associated Press declared Clinton the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party after she reached the required number of delegates, including both pledged delegates and superdelegates on June 6, 2016.[7] Sanders endorsed Clinton's campaign for president on July 12.[8] For her running mate, Clinton chose Virginia Senator Tim Kaine.[9] Clinton and Kaine were officially nominated at the 2016 Democratic National Convention on July 26.[10]

Clinton conceded the 2016 presidential election to Republican Donald Trump on November 9 after media outlets declared Trump had exceeded the 270 electoral college vote threshold needed to win the election and ending the campaign.[11]

Hillary for America
Campaign2016 Democratic primaries
2016 U.S. presidential election
AffiliationDemocratic Party
  • Announced: April 12, 2015
  • Official launch: June 13, 2015
  • Presumptive nominee: June 6, 2016
  • Official nominee: July 26, 2016
  • Lost general election: November 8, 2016
  • 1 Pierrepont Plaza
  • Brooklyn, New York[2]
Key people
  • John Podesta (chair)
  • Huma Abedin (vice chair)
  • Robby Mook (manager)
  • Joel Benenson (chief strategist)
  • Jim Margolis (media strategist)
  • Jennifer Palmieri (communications director)
  • Brian Fallon (press secretary)
  • Stephanie Hannon (technology)
  • Amanda Renteria (national political director)
  • Marc Elias (general counsel)
  • Nick Merrill (spokesperson)[3]
  • Dennis Cheng (national finance director)[4]
ReceiptsUS$585,699,061.27[5] (December 31, 2016)
  • Stronger Together
  • I'm With Her
  • Fighting for us
  • Love trumps hate
Theme song
  • "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten
  • "Roar" by Katy Perry
  • "Brave" by Sara Bareilles
  • "Stronger Together" by Jessica Sanchez
  • "Rise Up" by Andra Day
hillaryclinton.com [284]


Post-2008 primary election campaign

As soon as Clinton ended her 2008 Democratic presidential primary election campaign and conceded to Barack Obama, there was talk of her running again in 2012 or 2016.[12] After she ended her tenure as Secretary of State in 2013, speculation picked up sharply, particularly when she listed her occupation on social media as "TBD". In the meantime, Clinton earned over $11 million giving 51 paid speeches to various organizations, including Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street banks.[13] The speeches, and Clinton's not releasing their transcripts, would be raised as an issue by her opponents during the upcoming primary[14] and general election campaigns.[15] In October 2016, leaked excerpts from a Goldman Sachs Q&A session cast doubts about her support for the 2010 Dodd–Frank financial oversight legislation.[16]

Anticipating a future run, a "campaign-in-waiting" began to take shape in 2014, including a large donor network, experienced operatives, the Ready for Hillary and Priorities USA Action campaign political action committees (PACs), and other campaign infrastructure.[17]

By September 2013, amid continual political and media speculation, Clinton said she was considering a run but was in no hurry to decide.[18] In late 2013, Clinton told ABC's Barbara Walters that she would "look carefully at what I think I can do and make that decision sometime next year";[19] and told ABC's Diane Sawyer in June 2014 that she would "be on the way to making a decision before the end of the year."[20]

Decision-making process

While many political analysts came to assume during this time that Clinton would run, she took a long time to make the decision.[21] While Clinton said she spent much of the two years following her tenure, as Secretary of State, thinking about the possibility of running for president again, she was also noncommittal about the prospect, and appeared to some as reluctant to experience again the unpleasant aspects of a major political campaign.[22] Those around her were split in their opinions, reportedly, with Bill Clinton said to be the most in favor of her running again, Chelsea Clinton leaning towards it, but several of her closest aides against it.[21][22] She reportedly studied Obama's 2008 campaign to see what had gone right for Obama as compared to her own campaign.[22] Not until December 2014, around the time of the Clintons' annual winter vacation in the Dominican Republic, did she say she decided for sure that she would indeed run again.[21][22]


According to nationwide opinion polls in early 2015, Clinton was considered the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.[18][23][24] She had gained a broader sweep of early endorsements from the Democratic Party establishment in the 2016 race than she did in 2008,[25][26] although she did face several primary election challengers,[27][28] and, in August 2015 Vice President Joe Biden was reported to be seriously considering a possible challenge to Clinton.[29]

Clinton had a very high name recognition of an estimated 99% (only 11% of all voters said they did not know enough about her to form an opinion) and according to Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, she has had strong support from African-Americans, and among college-educated women and single women.[30]

In Time magazine's 2015 list of "The 100 Most Influential People", Clinton praised Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who herself was considered as a potential challenger to Clinton, for being a "progressive champion".[31] Warren decided not to run for president, despite pressure from some progressives.[32]


The Clinton campaign had planned for a delayed announcement, possibly as late as July 2015.[33][34][35]

On April 3, 2015, it was reported that Clinton had taken a lease on a small office at 1 Pierrepont Plaza in Brooklyn, New York City. It was widely speculated that the space would serve as her campaign headquarters.[36][37]

On April 12, 2015, Clinton released a YouTube video formally announcing her candidacy via email. She stated that, "Everyday Americans need a champion. And I want to be that champion."[38][39][40][41] The week following her announcement, she traveled to early primary states, such as Iowa and New Hampshire. Clinton was the third candidate with support in national polls to announce her candidacy, following Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, while Florida Senator Marco Rubio announced his candidacy on April 13, the day after Clinton. Some Democrats saw the proximity of Clinton's campaign announcement to Rubio's as advantageous, as Clinton's announcement might overshadow Rubio's.[42]

Clinton's campaign logo was unveiled on April 12, 2015, featuring a blue H with a red arrow through the middle.[43]

Van tour

Hillary Clinton at an early campaign event in Iowa on April 14, 2015

Hillary Clinton at an early campaign event in Iowa on April 14, 2015

Clinton began her campaign by making short trips to early primary and caucus states.[38] Immediately following her announcement, she made a two-day road trip in a customized Chevrolet Express van, nicknamed after Scooby-Doo, going from New York to Iowa, and stopping several times along the way, including a much publicized stop at a Chipotle Mexican Grill outside Toledo, Ohio, where Clinton was not recognized by the staff.[44][45][46] The trip gained considerable media attention and was, according to her campaign, intended as a bit of political theater.[47][48]

Clinton responded to very few questions from the press during the first month of her campaign. During her visits to early primary and caucus states, she did not hold any formal press conferences, and did not participate in any media interviews.[49][50] On May 19, 2015, after 28 days, Clinton answered some questions from reporters at an event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.[51] Clinton's campaign announced she would make additional stops in Florida, Texas, and Missouri in May and June.[52]

Kickoff rally

Clinton delivers the speech at her kickoff rally. The United Nations, Empire State Building, and Chrysler Building can be seen in the background.

Clinton delivers the speech at her kickoff rally. The United Nations, Empire State Building, and Chrysler Building can be seen in the background.

Clinton greets the crowd following her speech.

Clinton greets the crowd following her speech.

Clinton held her first major campaign rally June 13, 2015, at Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on the southern tip of New York City's Roosevelt Island.

In her speech, Clinton addressed income inequality in the United States, specifically endorsed universal pre-kindergarten, paid family leave, equal pay for women, college affordability, and incentives for companies that provide profit sharing to employees.[53] She did not address free trade agreements during the kickoff speech,[54] but made statements the next day suggesting that the current negotiations should be abandoned unless improved.[55]

The campaign said more than 5,500 people were in attendance, but estimates of crowd size by the press in attendance were less.[56]

According to John Cassidy, staff writer at The New Yorker, Clinton, up to a point, took a populist tone:[57]

While many of you are working multiple jobs to make ends meet, you see the top twenty-five hedge-fund managers making more than all of America's kindergarten teachers combined. And often paying a lower tax rate. So, you have to wonder, 'When does my hard work pay off? When does my family get ahead? When?'[57]

Prosperity can't be just for C.E.O.s and hedge-fund managers. Democracy can't be just for billionaires and corporations. Prosperity and democracy are part of your basic bargain, too. You brought our country back. Now it's time—your time—to secure the gains and move ahead.[57]


In August 2015, the Clinton campaign began a $2 million television advertising buy in Iowa and New Hampshire.[58] The ads featured footage of Clinton's late mother, Dorothy Rodham, and of Clinton herself,[58] and featured women, family, and children.[58]

In a review of Clinton's 32 general election TV ads, the Associated Press found that 24 of those ads show or mention Trump.[59] The majority of those 24 ads feature raw footage of him rather than others opining on his words and actions.[59]


Supporters of Hillary Clinton raising a sign (its contents being spelled "Hillary" and with the "H" being composed of Clinton's logo)

Supporters of Hillary Clinton raising a sign (its contents being spelled "Hillary" and with the "H" being composed of Clinton's logo)

Clinton focused her candidacy on several themes, including raising middle class incomes, expanding women's rights, instituting campaign finance reform, and improving the Affordable Care Act.

In March 2016, she laid out a detailed economic plan, which The New York Times called "optimistic" and "wide-ranging".[60] Basing her economic philosophy on inclusive capitalism, Clinton proposed a "clawback" which would rescind tax relief and other benefits for companies that move jobs overseas; providing incentives for companies that share profits with employees, communities and the environment, rather than focusing on short-term profits to increase stock value and rewarding shareholders; increasing collective bargaining rights; and placing an "exit tax" on companies that move their headquarters out of America in order to pay a lower tax rate overseas.[60] Clinton opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), supports the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and holds that "any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security".[61][62]

Given the climate of unlimited campaign contributions following the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, Clinton has called for a constitutional amendment to limit "unaccountable money" in politics.[63] In July 2016, she has "committed" to introducing a U.S. constitutional amendment that would result in overturning the 2010 Citizens United decision.[64][65]

She believes in equal pay for equal work, to address current shortfalls in how much women are paid to do the same jobs men do.[66]

Clinton has explicitly focused on family issues and supports universal preschool.[63]

On LGBT rights, she supports the right to same-sex marriage enshrined in the constitution.[63]

Clinton holds that allowing undocumented immigrants to have a path to citizenship "[i]s at its heart a family issue."[67]

Clinton has expressed support for Common Core.[68] She says, "The really unfortunate argument that's been going on around Common Core, it's very painful because the Common Core started off as a bipartisan effort. It was actually nonpartisan. It wasn't politicized.... Iowa has had a testing system based on a core curriculum for a really long time. And [speaking to Iowans] you see the value of it, you understand why that helps you organize your whole education system. And a lot of states unfortunately haven't had that, and so don't understand the value of a core, in this sense a Common Core."[69]

In a December 7, 2015 The New York Times article, Clinton presented her detailed plans for regulating Wall Street financial activities and related.[70] She proposes reining in the largest institutions to limit risky behavior, appointing strong regulators, and holding executives accountable.

Clinton is in favor of maintaining American influence in the Middle East. She opposes Trump's call to ban Muslims from the United States as "shameful" and "dangerous". She also claimed Trump's statement was "a reflection of much of the rest of his party", as "many GOP candidates have also said extreme things about Muslims."[71]

She told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, "America can't ever be neutral when it comes to Israel's security and survival."[72]

Strategy and tactics

Clinton campaigning in Manchester, New Hampshire in October 2016. New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan (left) and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (right) in the background.

Clinton campaigning in Manchester, New Hampshire in October 2016. New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan (left) and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (right) in the background.

Clinton campaign strategists reportedly believed that a strong liberal campaign would mobilize the same voters who swept Barack Obama to victory in 2008 and 2012. Her strategy of embracing Obama's policies proved highly effective with African American Democratic voters in the South Carolina Democratic primary.[73][74][75][76]

By March 2016 Clinton's nomination seemed likely, so efforts turned to structuring a campaign against Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee,[77] and determining how to generate enthusiasm for Clinton among the Democratic electorate, which had not turned out in large numbers for primaries.[78]

Clinton began the campaign with near-universal name recognition among voters, having been First Lady, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State.[79]

Focus on local issues

When Clinton campaigned she identified local issues of interest to the Democratic voters of the state. For example, in Mississippi, she expressed her concern about lead levels in the water in Jackson, the capital, where it was a hot issue.[80]

Emphasis on experience and steady leadership

Over the course of her campaign, Clinton emphasized her experience and record in public life, particularly as secretary of state.[81][82] Clinton also emphasized "the need for calm, steady, experienced leadership in the White House" in times of uncertainty, as well as the need to maintain the U.S.'s alliances across the Atlantic and the world.[83][84]

Press relations

Clinton has had an uneasy, and at times adversarial relationship with the press throughout her life in public service.[85] Weeks before her official entry as a presidential candidate, Clinton attended a political press corps event, pledging to start fresh on what she described as a "complicated" relationship with political reporters.[86] Clinton was initially criticized by the press for avoiding taking their questions,[87][88] after which she provided more interviews.


Clinton had access to the same technological tools that were used in Barack Obama's presidential campaign of 2012 and 2008.[89] A team of over 50 engineers and developers previously with Google, Facebook, and Twitter was hired.[90] The campaign used Timshel's The Groundwork platform for organizing data generated by mass e-mail programs, tracking donors, and analyzing marketing databases.[91][92]

Ground game

In October 2016, the Clinton campaign had 489 field offices compared to Trump's 178.[93] For context, Obama had 786 and some reports over 800 national field offices in 2012.[94][93] Political science research suggests that there is a modest positive relationship between field offices and vote share.[95][93]


Throughout the general election campaign, Clinton consistently led Trump in fundraising. Through August 2016, Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and Clinton's main super PAC, Priorities USA Action, had raised more than $700 million, while Trump had brought in $400 million.[96] According to a September 2016 analysis by the Center for Public Integrity, "More than 1,100 elite moneymen and women have collectively raised more than $113 million" for Clinton's campaign. These bundlers, who collected checks from friends or associates and gave them to the campaign, included "lawmakers, entertainment icons and titans of industry"; among them were Ben Affleck, George Lucas, Marissa Mayer, and Sheryl Sandberg.[97]

According to an article in The Washington Post, Clinton's presidential campaign benefited from a network of donors whom the Clintons had "methodically cultivated... over 40 years, from Little Rock to Washington and then across the globe. Their fundraising methods have created a new blueprint for politicians and their donors."[98] By the end of September 2015, the campaign's fundraising effort for "Clinton's 2016 White House run ... has already drawn $110 million in support".[98]

In response to the article, a campaign spokesman said that "it would be misleading, at best, to conflate donations to a philanthropy with political giving.... And regarding the campaign contributions, the breadth and depth of their support is a testament to the fact that they have both dedicated their lives to public service and fighting to make this country stronger."[98] As the Post article pointed out, fundraising for the 2016 presidential campaign existed "in a dramatically different environment" than in the past, and the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision and ruling by "the Supreme Court has made it easier for wealthy individuals, corporations and unions to spend huge, unregulated sums on political activity".[98]

In August 2015, the Clinton campaign announced that it had signed a joint fundraising agreement with the Democratic National Committee.[99] The campaign set up a joint fundraising committee with the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and 32 state committees.[100] The Clinton campaign sent the DNC a memorandum of understanding in which the campaign agreed to help the DNC pay off debt in exchange for "joint authority over strategic decisions over the staffing, budget, expenditures, and general election related communications, data, technology, analytics, and research." The memo specified that these arrangements would be limited to "preparations for the General Election and not the Democratic Primary."[101]

In the debate between Sanders and Clinton in New Hampshire prior to the New Hampshire primary Clinton, objecting to the inference that campaign contributions or speaking fees from the financial sector would influence her political decisions, characterized Sanders's references to her Wall Street connections as a "'very artful smear' campaign."[102] He responded by saying, "It's a fact. When in the last reporting period her super PAC received $25 million and $15 million came from Wall Street, what is the smear? That is the fact."[103]

The Clinton campaign entered September 2016 with $121.4 million in the bank, while the Trump campaign had $96 million.[104]

Super PACs supporting Clinton

In May 2015, it was reported that the Clinton campaign lagged behind opposing Republican campaigns in gaining large donations from wealthy donors to supportive Super PACs. At that time, many potential liberal, big-money donors had not yet committed to support Clinton.[105] Clinton's super PAC fundraising picked up significantly in the general election. Priorities USA Action, the main super PAC supporting Clinton, raised $23.4 million in August 2016. More than half of that amount came from its top five donors, and the amount included 11 seven-figure checks.[106]

Super PACs that have supported Clinton include:[107]

  • Ready PAC, formerly Ready for Hillary, was founded by Clinton supporters in January 2013. It raised money and signed up supporters in expectation of her presidential bid.[108] Ready PAC wound down operations in April 2015, handing over its 4-million person email list to the Clinton campaign.[109]

  • Priorities USA Action is the main super PAC supporting Clinton's candidacy. It is focused mainly on high-dollar donors. As of September 2016, it had amassed $132 million. The top six donors to the super PAC have given $43.5 million, which is a third of the money collected by Priorities USA Action.[110] Top contributors include George Soros, Haim Saban and Thomas Tull.[111] Other major donors include Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg.[111] Following Clinton's loss in the New Hampshire primary, Priorities USA Action committed $500,000 to a radio campaign in South Carolina and $4.5 million to Super Tuesday primaries.[112][113] As of late January 2016, the fund had $45 million.[114] The super PAC raised $21.7 million in August 2016, marking its largest monthly fundraising haul.[110]

  • Correct the Record, which started as a campaign of American Bridge 21st Century, spun off as a separate super PAC in May 2015. Though super PACs are typically prohibited from coordinating with campaigns, Correct the Record coordinates with the Clinton campaign on digital content.[115][116] A spokeswoman for the super PAC said "the coordination restriction would not apply because Correct the Record's defense of Mrs. Clinton would be built around material posted on the group's own website, not paid media."[117] In April 2016, Correct the Record announced it would spend $1 million to find and confront social media users who post unflattering messages about Clinton.[118][119][120] In September 2016, Correct the Record announced a project called "Trump Leaks." Correct the Record says it will pay anonymous tipsters for unflattering scoops about Donald Trump, including audio and video recordings and internal documents.[121]


Campaign staff

Robby Mook served as campaign manager, and is the first openly gay person to serve in that role in a major presidential campaign.[122][123]

Stephanie Hannon served as chief technology officer, and is the first female to serve in that role in a major presidential campaign.[124][125][126]

Other campaign staff included John Podesta as campaign chairman, Joel Benenson as chief strategist and pollster, Jennifer Palmieri as communications director, and Amanda Renteria as political director.[127] Longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin was the vice chairwoman of the campaign,[127] and continued in the role she has long played for Clinton as traveling chief of staff and "body woman".[128] Fundraising was led by Dennis Cheng as national finance director for the campaign, and main liaison between many major donors and Clinton.[129]

Policy advisors

Hillary Clinton named three senior policy advisers to lead policy development for her presidential campaign: Maya Harris, Ann O'Leary, and Jake Sullivan.[130] Longtime Clinton staffer Jake Sullivan served as policy director, and Michael Schmidt, Michael Shapiro and Jacob Leibenluft were on Clinton's policy team.[131]

The Clinton campaign had a large set of outside policy advisors who served on advisory groups. On foreign policy, senior advisors included former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, former National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Center for a New American Security CEO Michèle Flournoy, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and others.[132][133] The campaign also had a decentralized system of "about a dozen advisory working groups for regional and functional issues" such as Asia, Europe, counter-terrorism, and human rights. Foreign Policy magazine reports that "the campaign boasts a surprisingly diverse cadre of experts, from early-career think tankers in their 20s to graying ex-diplomats in their 50s and 60s."[132]

On economic policy, outside advisors with whom Clinton regularly consulted included Gene Sperling, former director of the National Economic Council; Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress; Ann O'Leary; economists Alan Krueger and Alan Blinder; Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz; Jared Bernstein, the former chief economist to Joe Biden; and Heather Boushey.[131]

On August 16, 2016 Clinton named Ken Salazar to lead her White House transition team.[134][135]

Communications, advertising, and design firms

Two of the Clinton campaigns' top media buying agencies were GMMB (which focused on television) and Bully Pulpit Interactive (which focused on digital). The Clinton campaign's analytics director was Elan Kriegel, the co-founder of BlueLabs, a Democratic data firm.[136] The campaign has also hired Burrell Communications, an African American advertising firm.[137]

Graphic designer Michael Bierut of the firm Pentagram designed the campaign's distinctive "H" logo; Bierut volunteered his services.[138][139] Bierut later recommended designer Jennifer Kinon to lead the in-house design team and design a comprehensive visual identity for the campaign.[140]

Professionals in branding and marketing, such as Wendy Clark of Coca-Cola, and Roy Spence of GSD&M, were brought into the campaign to assist with "re-branding" Clinton.[141]

Caucuses and primaries

Hillary Clinton at an event in West Des Moines, Iowa in January 2016.

Hillary Clinton at an event in West Des Moines, Iowa in January 2016.

Hillary Clinton at an event in Phoenix, Arizona in March 2016.

Hillary Clinton at an event in Phoenix, Arizona in March 2016.

Clinton's state-by-state performance in the primaries.   Hillary Clinton   Bernie Sanders

Clinton's state-by-state performance in the primaries.   Hillary Clinton   Bernie Sanders

County-by-county results  Hillary Clinton  Bernie Sanders

County-by-county results  Hillary Clinton  Bernie Sanders

Percentage of vote received by Clinton by state or territory in the primaries.   10.0–19.9%   20.0–29.9%   30.0–39.9%   40.0–49.9%   50.0–59.9%   60.0–69.9%   70.0–79.9%   80.0%+

Percentage of vote received by Clinton by state or territory in the primaries.   10.0–19.9%   20.0–29.9%   30.0–39.9%   40.0–49.9%   50.0–59.9%   60.0–69.9%   70.0–79.9%   80.0%+

Clinton won Iowa by the closest margin in the history of the state's Democratic caucus. O'Malley suspended[1] his campaign after a distant third-place finish, leaving Clinton and Sanders the only two candidates. The electoral battle turned out to be more competitive than expected, with Sanders winning the New Hampshire primary while Clinton scored victories in the Nevada caucuses and South Carolina primary. On four different Super Tuesdays, Clinton secured numerous important wins in each of the nine most populous states including California, New York, Florida, and Texas, while Sanders scored various victories in between.[143]

On June 6, 2016, the Associated Press and NBC News stated that Clinton had become the presumptive nominee after reaching the required number of delegates, including both pledged and unpledged delegates (superdelegates), to secure the nomination. In doing so, she had become the first woman to ever be the presumptive nominee of any major political party in the United States.[144] On June 7, Clinton officially secured a majority of pledged delegates after winning in the California and New Jersey primaries.[145] President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren formally endorsed Clinton on June 9, 2016.[146][147] Sanders confirmed on June 24 that he would vote for Clinton over Donald Trump in the general election[148] and, on July 12, 2016, formally endorsed Clinton in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.[149]

On July 26, 2016, the Democratic National Convention officially nominated Clinton for President and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine for Vice President.[150]

Delegate count

The table below reflects the presumed delegate count following the 2016 Democratic primaries:

CandidatePledged delegatesPresumed count, including superdelegates
Hillary Clinton official Secretary of State portrait crop.jpg
Hillary Clinton
Bernie Sanders September 2015 cropped.jpg
Governor O'Malley Portrait (cropped).jpg
Available delegates
Total delegate votes

Presidential debates

The first presidential debate in 2016 took place between Clinton and Trump on September 26 at Hofstra University.[151] This made Clinton the first woman to debate as part of an American presidential debate.[152] The moderator was Lester Holt of NBC.[153] A live-TV audience of 84 million viewers set a viewership record for presidential debates.[154] All scientific polls show that voters thought Hillary Clinton performed better than Donald Trump in the debate.[155][156]

The second presidential debate in 2016 took place between Clinton and Trump on October 9 at Washington University in St. Louis.[157] It was a town hall debate.[158]

The third and last presidential debate between Clinton and Trump took place on October 19 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.[159][160]


In July 2015, Clinton became the first 2016 presidential candidate to publicly release a medical history. The Clinton campaign released a letter from her physician, Lisa Bardack of Mount Kisco, New York, attesting to her good health based on a full medical evaluation.[161] The letter noted that there was a "complete resolution" of a brain concussion that Clinton suffered in 2012 and "total dissolution" of prior blood clots.[161] Bardack concluded that Clinton had no serious health issues that would interfere with her fitness to serve as president.[161] Despite this letter, rumors and conspiracy theories concerning Clinton's health proliferated online. In August 2016, Trump questioned Hillary's stamina and Sean Hannity called for Clinton to release her medical records, fueling these theories.[162]

In September 2016, Clinton developed pneumonia. She left a 9/11 commemoration ceremony early due to illness.[163][164][165] Video footage of Clinton's departure showed Clinton becoming unsteady on her feet and being helped into a van.[166] Later that evening, Clinton reassured reporters that she was "feeling great".[167] After initially stating that Clinton had become overheated at the event, her campaign later added that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia two days earlier.[166] Clinton spent three days recovering at home, canceling several campaign events, before returning to the campaign trail at a rally at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.[168] Her campaign was criticized by some media outlets for a lack of transparency concerning Clinton's health.[169][170] Responding to these concerns, Clinton released supplementary health records from Dr. Bardack, who found that she had had a non-contagious bacterial pneumonia infection and that she had recovered well with antibiotics and rest. Bardack wrote that she was "fit to serve as president of the United States."[171]


Email controversy

In March 2015, Clinton's practice of using her own private email address and server during her time as Secretary of State, in lieu of State Department servers, gained widespread public attention.[172] Concerns were raised about security and preservation of emails, and the possibility that laws may have been violated.[173] Nearly 2,100 emails contained in Clinton's server were determined to be classified when the state department had an opportunity to review them. According to Clinton they were not marked classified at the time she handled them. 65 emails were found to contain information classified as "Secret", more than 20 contained "Top-Secret" information, and the rest contained "Confidential" information.[174][175][176][177] Government policy, reiterated in the nondisclosure agreement signed by Clinton as part of gaining her security clearance, is that sensitive information should be considered and handled as classified even if not marked as such.[178] After allegations were raised that some of the emails in question fell into this so-called "born classified" category, an FBI probe was initiated regarding how classified information was handled on the Clinton server.[178][179][180][181]

The FBI probe was concluded on July 5, 2016, with a recommendation of no charges, a recommendation that was followed by the Justice Department. On October 28, eleven days before the election, FBI Director James Comey informed Congress that the FBI was analyzing additional emails obtained during its investigation of an unrelated case.[182][183] On November 6, he notified Congress that the new emails did not change the FBI's earlier conclusion.[184][185] The next day, stock and currency markets around the world surged in response.[186][187][188] According to Clinton, speaking to major donors after her loss and citing campaign data, the effect of the two letters the Director of the FBI released days before the election contributed to her defeat.[189]

Benghazi hearings

Clinton testifying before the House Select Committee on Benghazi

Clinton testifying before the House Select Committee on Benghazi

On October 22, 2015, Clinton testified for a second time before the Benghazi Committee and answered members' questions for more than eight hours in a public hearing.[190][191][192] The New York Times reported that "the long day of often-testy exchanges between committee members and their prominent witness revealed little new information about an episode that has been the subject of seven previous investigations...Perhaps stung by recent admissions that the pursuit of Mrs. Clinton's emails was politically motivated, Republican lawmakers on the panel for the most part avoided any mention of her use of a private email server."[190] The email issue did arise shortly before lunch, in a "a shouting match" between Republican committee chair Trey Gowdy and two Democrats, Adam Schiff and Elijah Cummings.[190] Late in the hearing, Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, accused Clinton of changing her accounts of the email service, leading to a "heated exchange" in which Clinton "repeated that she had made a mistake in using a private email account, but maintained that she had never sent or received anything marked classified and had sought to be transparent by publicly releasing her emails,"[190] a claim that was later contradicted by James Comey.[193]

According to The Hill, the hearings provided a positive momentum for Clinton's 2016 campaign, with her performance generating headlines such as "Marathon Benghazi hearing leaves Hillary Clinton largely unscathed" (CNN), and "GOP lands no solid punches while sparring with Clinton over Benghazi" (The Washington Post). Her campaign received a windfall of donations, mostly coming from new donors.[194]


During the week of the Democratic National Convention, WikiLeaks released emails suggesting that the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee tilted the primary in favor of Clinton. In an excerpt of Donna Brazile's book, Hacks: The Inside Story, published in Politico magazine, Brazile wrote that she had found an "unethical" agreement between the Clinton campaign and the DNC which had allowed Clinton to exert "control of the party long before she became its nominee."[195][196][197] In an interview on ABC's This Week on November 5, 2017, Brazile said that she had found no evidence of the Democratic primaries having been rigged in favor of Clinton.[196]

Basket of deplorables

On August 25, 2016, Clinton gave a speech criticizing Trump's campaign for using "racist lies" and allowing the alt-right to gain prominence.[198] At a fundraiser on September 9, Clinton stated: "You know, just to be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. They're racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it."[199] Donald Trump criticized Clinton's remark as insulting his supporters,[200] and some political analysts compared the statement to Mitt Romney's 47% gaffe in 2012.[199][200][201] The following day Clinton expressed regret for saying "half", while insisting that Trump had deplorably amplified "hateful views and voices".[202]

The "Deplorables" nickname was adopted by some Trump supporters,[203] with the Trump campaign inviting "deplorable Americans" on stage[204] and using the label against Clinton in an advertisement.[205]

Demographics and interest groups


Clinton campaigning on November 2, 2016.

Clinton campaigning on November 2, 2016.

In national polling, Clinton enjoyed "the highest level of female support of any candidate in more than four decades," with a 24-point lead in among female registered voters in a Pew Research Center taken on the eve of the 2016 Democratic National Convention.[206] The same polling also showed a 16-percentage point difference in support among women and men, a historically unprecedented gender gap.[206] Supporters created a private, online group, Pantsuit Nation, to share images in support of the candidate and her campaign. Its 2.9 million members used Clinton's typical choice of business wear—the pantsuit—as a symbol of both the candidate and the historical fight for women's equality.[207][208][209]

African-American community

Clinton enjoyed the overwhelming support of African American voters in the Democratic primary elections.[210][211] Overall, 77 percent of black Democratic primary voters supported Clinton.[212] Clinton performed especially well among black women voters.[211] There was a very large age gap among black voters, with the majority of younger black voters (under age 30) favoring Sanders but the overwhelming majority of older black voters favoring Clinton.[213]

In general election polling, Clinton has continued to enjoy an overwhelming advantage among black voters. Nationwide polling in the summer months of 2016 showed Clinton with the support of between 83% and 91% of black voters.[214][215] A key aim of the Clinton campaign was to ensure high voter turnout for African American voters; with President Obama making a personal appeal to black citizens to cast a ballot in the election.[216][217] Younger black voters have been of particular concern to the Clinton campaign, because this demographic is more skeptical of Clinton than their elders.[218][219][220]

Clinton has advocated criminal justice reform as well as support for African-American youth.[221] However, critics have brought up her quote as First Lady regarding the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, in which she described young, impoverished black children who had to turn to crime: "They are often the kinds of kids that are called 'super-predators.' No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel."[222] These remarks were used by Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump to imply racism on Clinton's behalf.[223]

LGBT community

Alternate version of Clinton's 2016 campaign logo in rainbow colors, used on Twitter and on Facebook by the campaign, after release of the candidate's April 28, 2015, statement on same-sex marriage

Alternate version of Clinton's 2016 campaign logo in rainbow colors, used on Twitter and on Facebook by the campaign, after release of the candidate's April 28, 2015, statement on same-sex marriage

Clinton made LGBT rights a central issue in her campaign. In addition to promoting broader LGBT rights, she also advocates for the right for transgender people to serve in the military.[224] In the past few years, her public position on same sex marriage and "Don't ask, don't tell" (a Bill Clinton-era law preventing openly LGB people from serving in the military) has changed, although expressed no regret over her previous views.[225]

Clinton's stance on LGBT rights, like many Democrats, has shifted over time with public opinion. She opposed same-sex marriage, "favoring arrangements like civil unions", a position which "largely tracked public opinion".[226][227] In 2004, she opposed a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, and in 2006 she said she would not oppose an effort by New York State officials to legalize same-sex marriage.[226] In March 2013, she formally stated her support for same-sex marriage after stepping down as Secretary of State, stating she supported it "personally and as a matter of policy and law."[226][228] In 2016, her Twitter account stated conversion therapy for minors should be ended.[229]

Clinton condemned Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.[230] She supported the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling.[231] She also endorsed the Equality Act of 2015.[232][233]

In December 2015, Clinton published a plan for LGBT rights.[234] The next month, the Human Rights Campaign endorsed her for president.[235] She criticized Bernie Sanders for calling the Human Rights Campaign "part of the establishment."[236][237]

In March 2016, in an interview with MSNBC at Nancy Reagan's funeral service, Clinton credited Reagan with starting the national conversation about AIDS. Clinton's comments drew heavy criticism from LGBT groups and the media, who said that the Reagans had ignored the issue, causing Clinton to apologize and retract her statement.[238]

In October 2016, Clinton became the first major-party presidential candidate ever to write an op-ed for an LGBT newspaper, writing for Philadelphia Gay News.[239]


Clinton was endorsed by The New York Times,[240] The Washington Post,[241] Los Angeles Times,[242] Houston Chronicle,[243][244] The Cincinnati Enquirer,[245][246] The Dallas Morning News,[247][248] and The Arizona Republic,[249] editorial boards. The Houston Chronicle traditionally endorses Republicans later in the election, but chose to endorse Clinton in July. The Dallas Morning News had not endorsed a Democrat for president since 1940. The Cincinnati Enquirer had not endorsed a Democratic presidential candidate for almost 100 years. The Arizona Republic, which began publishing in 1890, had never endorsed a Democratic candidate.

USA Today, which had never endorsed a presidential candidate, broke the tradition and took sides in the race with an editorial which declared Trump as "erratic", describing his business career as "checkered", calling him a "serial liar" and "unfit for the presidency". The newspaper, however, said the "editorial does not represent unqualified support for Hillary Clinton."[250][251][252] The Atlantic, which had only made two presidential endorsements in its 160-year history, endorsed Clinton.[253]

A group of 70 Nobel laureates endorsed Clinton in an open letter released in October 2016. Among the signatories to the letter were chemist Peter Agre, economist Robert J. Shiller, and physicist Robert Woodrow Wilson.[254]

Potential Supreme Court nominees

From the beginning of her presidential candidacy, Clinton stated that she would like to nominate justices who would overturn the decision in Citizens United v. FEC, a case allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns.[255] Clinton also voiced support for judges who would vote favorably regarding abortion rights, unions, affirmative action, same-sex marriage, and President Obama's Clean Power Plan and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program.[256][257] Clinton also stated that she would look for a nominee who represents the diversity of the country and has professional experience outside of working for large law firms and serving as a judge.[258]

Potential nominees listed in August 2016 by the ABA Journal included Cory Booker, Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, Merrick Garland, Jane L. Kelly, Amy Klobuchar, Lucy H. Koh, Goodwin Liu, Patricia Millett, Jacqueline Nguyen, Sri Srinivasan and Paul J. Watford.[259] Barack Obama's name was also floated.[260]

Election results

Clinton delivering her concession speech

Clinton delivering her concession speech

Cartogram showing the 2016 Electoral College results. Each square represents one elector.

Cartogram showing the 2016 Electoral College results. Each square represents one elector.

On November 8, 2016, Clinton lost the presidential election to Donald Trump in what the New York Times called a "surprise outcome" after polls leading up to election day had predicted a Clinton victory.[261][262] Clinton lost the electoral vote while winning the popular vote. She congratulated Trump on the win in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016, and delivered her public concession speech at 11:50 AM ET, November 9, 2016.[263] On November 9 Clinton's Twitter account tweeted, "To all the little girls watching...never doubt that you are valuable and powerful & deserving of every chance & opportunity in the world [to pursue and achieve your own dreams]," part of her concession speech, which became the most retweeted political tweet of the year, the third most retweeted tweet of the year, and the top retweet in the United States.[264]

As of November 28, Trump received pluralities or majorities in states expected to result in 306 electoral college votes to Clinton's 232.[265][266][267] In the nationwide popular vote, Clinton received over 2.8 million (2.1%) more votes than Trump.[268][269][270] This is the widest-ever lead in the popular vote for a candidate who lost the election.[271] It also makes Clinton the first woman to win the popular vote in an election for United States president.[272]


After a loss that was widely perceived as a surprise, critics alleged that the Clinton team ran an ineffective campaign. Political scientists John Sides, Michael Tesler and Lynn Vavreck dispute the common criticism that Clinton ran an inept campaign, saying that this is a "myth" and there is little evidence to support the criticism.[273] A common critique of the Clinton campaign is that it did not campaign in Wisconsin (which Trump narrowly won), yet a study by political scientist Christopher J. Devine finds that "unclear" from the evidence "whether Clinton also would have gained votes, or even won, in Wisconsin had she campaigned in that state."[274]

See also

  • Cyberwarfare by Russia

  • Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign

  • Hillary Clinton 2008 presidential campaign

  • Mueller Report

  • Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign, a best-selling book published in April 2017

  • Timeline of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections

  • What Happened by Hillary Clinton, published in September 2017


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