In this week’s politics chat, we talk about whether Hillary Clinton has run a “good” campaign. The transcript below has been lightly edited.
micah (Micah Cohen, politics editor): Welcome, everyone. Today’s topic: Has Hillary Clinton’s campaign been lucky or good? Or, if both, in what proportions? For instance, you could describe the election so far like so:
Or, you could summarize the election to date thusly:
So, which is it?
natesilver (Nate Silver, editor in chief): To a first approximation, No. 1 is true for the primary and No. 2 is true for the general election.
clare.malone (Clare Malone, senior political writer): Hah. It’s No. 2.
natesilver: Abso-fucking-lootley not No. 2 in the primary
clare.malone: You don’t think she was helped in some measure by the fact that Sanders struck a lot of Democrats as attractive but fundamentally untenable? Also, Nate segmented this out! I think if we’re going to pick a sweeping “good or lucky” she is more lucky.
natesilver: First of all, she deserves 100 percent credit for clearing the field of candidates other than Sanders. That reflects her formidability as a candidate, not just luck.
harry (Harry Enten, senior political writer): Yeah, Clinton was a strong primary candidate. The reason no one ran against her was because she locked down support from a majority of the party leaders before the primary started. That made it difficult for any opponent to gain a foothold.
But it’s not only that. When her back was against the wall, she won. Consider the state of Nevada. If Sanders had won there, it could have created at least a momentary disaster for Clinton. But Clinton used her connection with Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, ensured the casino workers got time off to caucus, and won the caucuses by about 5 percentage …