NewsThink.org

2016 Election Postmortem

by Ed Sawicki - December 14, 2019 (updated 2022)

As Democrats ponder who they'll run for president in 2024, they should look to their past losses for guidance. Their most consequential loss was Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss, which gave the country Donald Trump. This postmortem of the 2016 campaign season cites the news stories at the time, thus answering the question:

What did voters know and when did they know it?

Possible reasons for Clinton loss

The Supreme Court and voter suppression Conservative Supreme Court

The 2016 presidential election was the first following the Supreme Court's 2013 gutting of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Immediately after, several states went back to their evil ways of voter suppression that included gerrymandering of congressional districts, stricter voter ID laws, etc. Did voter suppression have anything to do with Hillary Clinton garnering far fewer popular votes than Barack Obama did in 2012?

It seems likely.

From the NY Times: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-to-4 vote, freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval.”

“The decision will have immediate practical consequences. Texas announced shortly after the decision that a voter identification law that had been blocked would go into effect immediately, and that redistricting maps there would no longer need federal approval. Changes in voting procedures in the places that had been covered by the law, including ones concerning restrictions on early voting, will now be subject only to after-the-fact litigation.”

Sources

NY Times: Supreme Court Invalidates Key Part of Voting Rights Act

NPR: Supreme Court: Congress Has To Fix Broken Voting Rights Act

Clinton's emails and James Comey
James Comey

James Comey, Director of the FBI, sent a letter to Congress two weeks before the election informing them that the FBI was reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. This was because some Clinton emails were found on Anthony Weiner’s computer during an investigation of him. His wife, Huma Abedin, had used his computer to send and receive email messages that had passed through Clinton’s private server.

Abedin was vice-chair of Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign. This situation could have been avoided if the Clinton campaign had given her a computer for use at home.

Nobody knows for certain how this affected voting. Voters tend to see this as either the work of a partisan FBI director (Comey was a Republican before July 2016) or a self-inflicted wound by the Clinton campaign. It's Nate Silver's opinion that this probably cost Clinton the election.

On October 31, 2016, Comey opposed notifying the public about Russian Hacking. He argued privately that it was too close to Election Day for the United States government to name Russia as meddling in the U.S. election and ultimately ensured that the FBI’s name was not on the document that the U.S. government put out, a former bureau official tells CNBC.

“The official said some government insiders are perplexed as to why Comey would have election timing concerns with the Russian disclosure but not with the Huma Abedin email discovery disclosure he made Friday.” — CNBC

A Higher loyalty

In James Comey's book, A Higher Loyalty, he apologizes for his part in Clinton's election loss and wished he worked harder at letting the public know that Clinton's actions were not criminal behavior.

Bernie Sanders did not take political advantage of Clinton's email difficulties. He wanted the issue to go away so they could focus on more important issues.

Sources

Nate Silver 538, The Comey Letter Probably Cost Clinton The Election

CNN, James Comey explains why he alerted Congress right before the election on Clinton's emails

NY Times, Letter to Congress From F.B.I. Director on Clinton Email Case

Vox, 4 pieces of evidence showing FBI Director James Comey cost Clinton the election

CNBC, FBI’s Comey opposed naming Russians, citing election timing: Source

NPR, Did FBI Director James Comey's Email Announcement Break The Law?

ABC, Comey defends Russia investigation as 'essential' despite missteps

Social Security cuts, Wall Street bankers, and Wikileaks
Wikileaks logo

Hillary Clinton was criticized for being too friendly with Wall Street. She hinted at the extent to which she'd reform Wall Street by famously saying that she told Wall Street bankers to “cut it out.”

She refused to release the text of the paid speeches she gave to Wall Street firms but they were captured and released by Wikileaks on October 7, 2016 - one month before the election.

Her speeches assured bankers that she was willing to cut Social Security to balance budgets. Clinton admitted to the bankers of having both a public and a private position on politically contentious issues, where her private position was to favor Wall Street over Main Street and thought that cuts to Social Security should be used to balance the budget.

Yet, in public, Clinton vowed to defend and expand Social Security as in this tweet responding to Bernie Sanders.

Clinton claims no cuts to Social Security

Was it Main Street or Wall Street being misled?

Sources

Huffington Post, Why Progressive Groups Have A Problem With Clinton On Social Security

SS Works, Huff Post: “Hillary Clinton refuses to rule out any and all benefit cuts to Social Security

Wikileaks, Hillary Clinton Email Archive

CNBC, What data reveals about Hillary Clinton's emails

Wikileaks, HRC Paid Speeches email

Politico, The most revealing Clinton campaign emails in WikiLeaks release

NY Times, Leaked Speech Excerpts Show a Hillary Clinton at Ease With Wall Street

Wikileaks, Hillary Clinton Email Archive

Politico, Hacked 80-page roundup of paid speeches shows Clinton 'praising Wall Street'

Wikileaks, POLITICO: Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street backers: We get it

More White women voted for Trump than Clinton
Special place in hell

About 94 percent of Black women and 68 percent of Hispanic and Latino women voters chose Hillary Clinton, but about 53 percent of White female voters picked Donald Trump according to exit polling. This result is ironic given that, in early 2016, Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright tried to convince women that they are obligated to vote for Hillary Clinton regardless of the issues.

Albright used her now-famous line, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” Steinem suggested that younger women were backing Mr. Sanders just so they could meet young men but she later walked that back.

Similar to Al Gore not winning his home state* in the 2000 election, the inconvenient truth is that Clinton didn't adequately win her own gender in a historic election for the first woman president of the United States.

* If Gore had won Tennessee, he would have been president.

Note: Gloria Steinem endorsed Bernie Sanders during his 1996 election campaign. She declared him an honorary woman for his efforts advocating for women's issues.

Sources

NY Times: White Women Helped Elect Donald Trump

WAP:, Trump celebrates winning 52 percent of women in 2016 — which is only how he did among whites

CNN: exit polls

538: Clinton Couldn’t Win Over White Women

CNN: Exit polls

NY Times: Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright Rebuke Young Women Backing Bernie Sanders

Patheos: Would a Woman Really Be a Better President?

Mother Jones: The Time Gloria Steinem Made Bernie Sanders an “Honorary Woman”

Clinton won the popular vote by significantly less than Obama

Clinton supporters and Democrats generally are fond of saying that Clinton won the election because she won the popular vote even though presidential elections are not won or lost on the popular vote. (Yes, they should be.)

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by far less than Barack Obama did in the prior two elections. The table shows the difference between the Democratic and Republican popular vote count. These are Federal Election Commission (FEC) results.

YearMargin
20089,522,083
20124,967,508
20162,868,691

Vox summarized Clinton's election loss despite her popular vote margin like this: “The big difference, nationally, is that Clinton did a lot worse than Obama and third-party candidates did a lot better.”

What Vox doesn't say in their one-sentence summary is that the conservative candidate, Gary Johnson, did much better than Green Party candidate, Jill Stein. This pulled more votes from Trump than Clinton. So, overall, the third parties helped Clinton but not by enough.

Sources

FEC, Official 2016 Presidential General Election Results

FEC, Official 2012 Presidential General Election Results

FEC, Official 2008 Presidential General Election Results

Vox, What really happened in 2016, in 7 charts

About 100 million people didn't vote

Non-voters are the largest political group and they're up for grabs by either party. It seems intuitive that it’s far better to go after them than to try to convert existing Republican voters. Many of these people are young voters who can be convinced to vote if the platform is right.

When Sanders was pushing for a minimum wage of $15 per hour during the 2016 campaign, Clinton thought that was too high and supported $12 per hour. While Sanders was pushing to abolish the death penalty, Clinton supported it. Perhaps young people didn’t react well to Clinton’s more conservative platform and stayed home for the general election.

Sources

WAPO, About 100 million people couldn’t be bothered to vote this year

US Elections Project: 2016 November General Election Turnout Rates

Reuters: Clinton calls for U.S. minimum wage increase to $12 an hour

The Intercept: Hillary Clinton's Indefensible Stance on the Death Penalty

Over six million felons can't vote

The chickens came home to roost in 2016. After decades of doing nothing about felony disenfranchisement, the 2016 election had as many as six million fewer voters. The demographics of imprisonment suggests that these are mostly Democratic voters. But Democrats did little to fix this problem over the years and Republicans didn't want it fixed.

Ironically, during the 2016 campaign season, many liberals on social media agreed with Republicans that felons shouldn't be allowed to vote.

There are over 6 million felons of voting age who are prohibited from voting. These 6 million are not evenly distributed across our 435 congressional districts but, if they were, that’s more than 13,793 people per voting district who are prohibited from voting. This is another self-inflicted wound for the Democrats.

State Democrats should have done more before the 2016 election for prison reform generally and ensuring that felons had the right to vote specifically. One problem is that hundreds of Democratic seats in state legislatures were lost during the Bush and Obama years.

This video is from 2018, so it wasn't a factor in the 2016 election but it does a good job of explaining felony disenfranchisement.

Sources

Medium, How Thousands of Voting Ex-Felons Could Impact Florida’s Elections

Prison Fellowship, Voting Rights

NCSL, Felon Voting Rights

Wikipedia, Felony disenfranchisement in the United States

Clinton's Superpredators remarks
From WAPO:
Ashley Williams, a 23-year-old activist from Charlotte, interrupted Clinton during a private fundraiser in Charleston on Wednesday night. Williams stood and demanded an apology from Clinton for the high incarceration rate for Black Americans, and confronted her with the words of a speech Clinton delivered 20 years ago voicing support for the now-debunked theory of “super-predators”.
“They are often the kinds of kids that are called 'super-predators,' ” Clinton said in 1996, at the height of anxiety during her husband's administration about high rates of crime and violence. “No conscience, no empathy, we can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.”
The ACLU has been highly critical of the superpredator characterization in their writings and presentations—see the URLs in the Sources section below. Note that ACLU webpages on issues don't generally have dates.
From The Guardian:
When a young Black woman confronted Hillary Clinton at a fundraiser over Clinton’s description of young offenders in the 1990s as “super predators” that needed to be brought “to heel”, it was an educational moment for a new generation of voters who may have been unaware of the Clintons' complicated history with African Americans.
The discourse of “super predators” was not an unfortunate misstatement; it was a racist, political calculation intended to publicly demonstrate a lack of sympathy for Black people and support for a regime of punishment and retribution.
Sources

CNN, Black Lives Matter protesters confront Clinton at a fundraiser

WAPO, Clinton regrets 1996 remark on ‘super-predators’ after encounter with activist

Guardian, Why should we trust you? Clinton's big problem with young black Americans

ACLU, FALSE HOPE: How parole systems fail youth serving extreme sentences

ACLU, Innocent Students Are Getting Criminalizing Probation in One California County

ACLU, Storm Warning

C-SPAN, 1996: Hillary Clinton on "superpredators"

Clinton's comments about coal miners

In March 2016, Hillary Clinton said, “We're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” This was interpreted by many to be an attack on the working class. Clinton says she regrets this comment the most, devoting a chapter to it in her new book What Happened.

Bernie Sanders had a different message for coal country: “We cannot abandon communities that have been dependent on coal and other fossil fuels. In my view, we have got to invest $41 billion rebuilding coal mining communities and making sure that Americans in McDowell County and all over this country receive the job training they need for the clean energy jobs of the future.”

Sources

Hillary Clinton: Here's the misstep from the campaign I regret the most

VOX: Hillary Clinton’s “coal gaffe” is a microcosm of her twisted treatment by the media

NY Times: Bernie Sanders Pledges to Keep Jobs in Coal Mining Areas

Clinton's Basket of Deplorables remark
Clinton's false story about landing in Bosnia under sniper fire

It started on May 23, 2016 with the Washington Post running a story about Hillary Clinton's false story about landing in Bosnia in 1996 under fire and having to run for cover. On June 22, 2016, Donald Trump tweeted, “Says Hillary Clinton said she was under attack (in Bosnia) but the attack turned out to be young girls handing her flowers.”

Recall Brian William’s false 2003 claim that the helicopter he was in took enemy fire and was downed. Williams was suspended from NBC for six months for the lie. The general feeling from liberals on social media was that Williams deserved the punishment. How many felt that Clinton’s similar lie also deserved punishment?

Sources

WAPO, Recalling Hillary Clinton’s claim of ‘landing under sniper fire’ in Bosnia

Politifact, "I remember landing under sniper fire."

Politifact, Trump right that Clinton made up story about Bosnia sniper fire

Business Insider, Here's the story behind Hillary Clinton's claim about landing under 'sniper fire' in Bosnia

Huffington Post, Brian Williams' False 2003 Iraq Helicopter Claim Draws Scrutiny To Other War Exploits

Trump to African-Americans: What do you have to lose?

On August 19, 2016 in Dimondale, Michigan, Trump blamed the Democratic Party for African American communities suffering and promised to makes things better for them. He asked, “What have you got to lose?” For some, it's a compelling argument.

Of course, Black communities have suffered under both political parties and Republican policies are much worse for Blacks than the Democrats', but the memory of Flint, Michigan's water problems under the Obama administration is fresh.

Sources

CNN: Trump pitches black voters: ‘What the hell do you have to lose?’

BBC: Donald Trump to black voters: 'What do you have to lose?'

Newsthink: Apartheid Policies in the U.S.

Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton meet on tarmac

On June 22, 2016, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton had a meeting in a Justice Department jet on the tarmac at Phoenix airport. The Justice Department was still investigating Hillary Clinton's emails. Bill Clinton and Lynch say they didn't discuss the investigation. The Trump campaign said that Bill Clinton offered Lynch a Supreme Court seat appointment if she squashed the investigation.

It was incredibly inappropriate for Bill Clinton to seek a private meeting with Lynch and for Lynch to agree to it while Hillary Clinton was being investigated.

Sources

Phoenix airport at center of political intrigue after Lynch, Bill Clinton meeting

CNN, Bill Clinton meeting causes headaches for Hillary

WAPO, How everyone looks bad because Bill Clinton met with Loretta Lynch

NY Times, Meeting Between Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch Provokes Political Furor

NY Times, Bill Clinton’s Meeting With Loretta Lynch Causes Stir in Both Parties

Clinton picks Kaine for VP
Tim Kaine

Clinton’s pick for Vice-president was Tim Kaine, an unpopular choice. Many Democratic voters thought that Clinton should have chosen someone of color, such as Julian Castro or Cory Booker.

Many thought that Clinton should have made a more secular choice. Kaine’s position toward abortion, for example, was suspect because of his past positions, such as supporting abstinence-only sex education for teens.

Kaine also backed repeal of Virginia’s estate tax, a move you'd expect from a Republican, not a Democrat. Kaine's attitude about raising taxes on all segments of society didn't mesh well with Clinton's stated (public) policy of only raising taxes on the wealthy.

However, most voters vote for the top of the ticket and it's unlikely that this swung the election, but it likely contributed.

Sources

Roll Call, Clinton Picks Virginia's Tim Kaine for VP

New Republic, Tim Kaine Is Too Boring to Be Clinton’s Running Mate

Virginia Legislature, HB 5019 Estate tax

Clinton didn't campaign enough in swing states?

Numerous news sources suggest that Clinton didn't devote enough time and energy to swing states, particularly Rust Belt states. However, Nate Silver suggests that Clinton's ground game in swing states didn't matter—that although she underperformed in those states, improved efforts there would not be enough to overcome Electoral College math.

Sources

BI: Hillary Clinton disputes one of the most common critiques of her campaign in her new book

538 (Nate Silver): Clinton’s Ground Game Didn’t Cost Her The Election

The Atlantic: How the Rustbelt Paved Trump's Road to Victory

Clinton blames Putin for hacking attacks

Speaking to a group of donors in Manhattan, Hillary Clinton said that Putin had never forgiven her 2011 accusation that parliamentary elections in his country were rigged.

From Politico: With the protesters accusing Putin of having rigged recent elections, the Russian leader pointed an angry finger at Clinton, who had issued a statement sharply critical of the voting results. “She said they were dishonest and unfair,” Putin fumed in public remarks, saying that Clinton gave “a signal” to demonstrators working “with the support of the U.S. State Department” to undermine his power. “We need to safeguard ourselves from this interference in our internal affairs,” Putin declared.

Audio: Hillary Clinton blames Putin for election loss

Access Hollywood tape DHS and DNI logos

From Politico:  “On Oct. 7, 2016, about a month before the election, the administration revealed, through a statement from the director of national intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security, that the U.S. government believed Russia was behind the hacks and was seeking to interfere with the election. The revelation, which many in the White House expected to be bombshell news, was largely overshadowed by the revelation that same day of an “Access Hollywood” tape in which Donald Trump made crude and sexist comments to anchor Billy Bush.”

Sources

Politico, Why Putin hates Hillary

NY Times, Clinton Says ‘Personal Beef’ by Putin Led to Hacking Attacks

Guardian, Clinton accuses Putin of acting on 'personal beef' in directing email hack

Politico, Obama team was warned in 2014 about Russian interference

DHS, Joint Statement from the Department Of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security

Obama and McConnell quiet about Russia

President Obama was told of Russian interference with the 2016 election and wanted to notify the country but Mitch McConnell refused to cooperate. The Obama administration was concerned that, without McConnell’s cooperation, it would look politically-motivated given that Trump had already told his base that the Democrats would try to rig the election.

The Washington Post reported that during that briefing, McConnell “made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.”

It turns out that the concern about Donald Trump turning this political was correct. He has criticized Obama a few times for doing nothing to stop Russian interference in the final months of the 2016 election. Although it’s 20-20 hindsight, we now know that Obama should have warned the country regardless of Mitch McConnell and Trump. But he didn’t.

The Washington Post story ends with this paragraph:

“The lack of an administration response on the Russian hacking cannot be attributed to Congress,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who was at the September meeting. “The administration has all the tools it needs to respond. They have the ability to impose sanctions. They have the ability to take clandestine means. The administration has decided not to utilize them in a way that would deter the Russians, and I think that’s a problem.”

Sources

WAPO, Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House

NY Times, Obama Says He Told Putin: ‘Cut It Out’ on Hacking

Clinton reputation for militarism

Hillary Clinton is seen to be hawkish in her foreign policy, while many Democratic voters favor diplomatic solutions.

Sources

The Nation, May 27, 2014, The Left Ought to Worry About Hillary Clinton, Hawk and Militarist, in 2016

The Intercept, September 9, 2015, Hillary Clinton Goes To Militaristic, Hawkish Think Tank, Gives Militaristic, Hawkish Speech

C-SPAN, September 9, 2015, Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton on Iran Nuclear Agreement

NY Times, April 21, 2016, How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk

NY Times, May 2, 2016, For Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, Divergent Paths to Iran Nuclear Talks

Foreign Policy, July 27, 2016, Hillary the Hawk: A History

Vox, August 9, 2016, Why Hillary Clinton wouldn’t be a foreign policy hawk as president

Democracy Now, August 31, 2016, Glenn Greenwald: Obama Has Bombed 7 Nations, But Clinton Claims He Has Not Been Militaristic Enough

Death penalty

Hillary Clinton does not want to abolish the death penalty. Bernie Sanders wants the death penalty abolished. There's little indication from polling that the death penalty is an important issue for most Democratic voters. (Yes, it should be.)


Former death row inmate confronts Hillary Clinton about death penalty stance

Sources

USA Today: Bernie Sanders says death penalty should be abolished

Politico: Clinton backs review, not abolishment, of death penalty

WSJ: Hillary Clinton Backs Use of Death Penalty

The Hill: Clinton: Death penalty should be 'limited and rare'

Hillary Clinton's Postmortem

Hillary Clinton publishes What Happened book
Hillary Clinton book

From Wikipedia: In the book, Clinton tries to explain the combination of factors that led to her electoral loss, including James Comey, Vladimir Putin, Mitch McConnell, The New York Times, NBC, WikiLeaks, the American media as a whole, sexism, white resentment, Bernie Sanders and his supporters, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and herself, specifically her comments on putting “coal miners out of business” and labeling her opponent's supporters as a “basket of deplorables”.

Sources

Wikipedia, What Happened (Clinton book)

Guardian, Ten things we learned from Hillary Clinton’s book What Happened

Guardian, What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton review – no twinge of remorse

NY Times, Hillary Clinton Opens Up About ‘What Happened,’ With Candor, Defiance and Dark Humor

False reasons for Clinton loss

There are reasons for Clinton's loss that are either outright false or unlikely, yet are popular on social media.

Sander's supporters voted for Trump?

During the 2016 campaign season, approximately 11 to 12 percent of Sanders supporters didn't vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election, voting instead for Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, or Donald Trump. A significant portion of these supporters were people who normally vote Republican. Yes, Republican. Some Republican voters couldn't bring themselves to vote for Trump and were attracted to the policies voiced by the Sanders campaign. See The Atlantic article.

When Sanders didn't win the nomination, these Republican voters, not considering Hillary Clinton to be an acceptable substitute for Sanders, voted for the Republican candidate, as they normally would. This is why you may hear people say that Sanders supporters voted for Trump.

The MSNBC article tells how Sanders consistently did better in the polls against Trump than Clinton, thus supporting the story in the Atlantic.

Sources

The Atlantic, November 24, 2015, The Lifelong Republicans Who Love Bernie Sanders

MSNBC, June 6, 2016, Why does Sanders do better than Clinton against Trump?

Sanders did not campaign for Clinton?

A common claim is that Sanders did not campaign for Clinton after he lost the nomination. After Bernie Sanders endorsed Clinton, he committed to a rigorous campaign schedule of 39 rallies in 13 states in late 2016.

Here's a complete list of the cities:
July 12Portsmouth, NH
September 5Lebanon, NH
September 17Kent, OH
September 17Akron, OH
September 28Durham, NH
October 4Minneapolis, MN
October 4Duluth, MN
October 5Des Moines, IA
October 5Madison, WI
October 5Green Bay, WI
October 6Dearborn, MI
October 6Ann Arbor, MI
October 6East Lansing, MI
October 6Grand Rapids, MI
October 7Keene, NH
October 7Nashua, NH
October 7Bangor, ME
October 8Scranton, PA
October 8Philadelphia, PA
October 16Denver, CO
October 17Fort Collins, CO
October 18Flagstaff, AZ
October 19Reno, NV
November 1Plymouth, NH
November 1Hanover, NH
November 1Portland, ME
November 2Kalamazoo, MI
November 2Traverse City, MI
November 2Milwaukee, WI
November 3Youngstown, OH
November 3Cincinnati, OH
November 3Raleigh, NC
November 4Iowa City, IA
November 4Cedar Falls, IA
November 4Davenport, IA
November 4Omaha, NE
November 5Ames, IA
November 5Colorado Springs, CO
November 6Phoenix, AZ
November 6Las Vegas, NV

Clinton thanked Sanders publicly for his efforts as you can see from the tweet pictured below

Clinton tweet thanking Sanders
Clinton also thanked Sanders in a letter Clinton thanking Sanders

Sources

USA Today, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton join forces against Donald Trump

New Yorker, Bernie Sanders's Hard Fight for Hillary Clinton

Politico, Sanders planning a ‘very, very vigorous’ Clinton stump schedule

Third parties pulled votes away from Clinton?
Jill Stein

Hillary Clinton has blamed her loss, in part, on Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Stein took 1.07 percent of the votes for a total of 1,457,218 votes. The margin that Trump won by in certain congressional districts was less than the number of Stein votes for the district, so Stein had an impact.

However, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson did far better than Stein. He got 3.28 percent of the votes: 4,489,341 votes. Johnson's votes came primarily from Republican voters. Johnson's votes helped Clinton far more than Stein's votes hurt her.

Had these Republican voters not voted for Johnson and voted for Trump, Clinton's margin would have been far smaller and, conceivably, Clinton could have lost the popular vote.

If Clinton was so concerned about Jill Stein siphoning away too many votes, she could have greatly reduced the threat by embracing those portions of Stein's platform that were (and still are) popular with the American public, which included Medicare For All, reduced military spending, and Wall Street reform, but these are things that Clinton specifically does not support (privately).

Sources

WAPO, You can blame the electoral college for Trump winning. But don’t blame Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.

WAPO, Gary Johnson helped Hillary. Not by enough, but he did.

Huffington, Why It Doesn’t Make Sense To Blame Gary Johnson For Hillary’s Loss

Sanders campaign workers “stole” from Clinton's database?

The Clinton campaign discovered that Sanders campaign staff were accessing their voter database. The DNC responded by denying the Sanders campaign access to their own (Sanders) voter database. The Sanders campaign filed a lawsuit. All parties involved resolved the issue quickly.

The root of the problem was discovered to be the software used by the DNC. Called the NGP VAN system, the vendor that maintained it made mistakes that allowed the Sanders people to suddenly have visibility of the Clinton campaign's portion of the database. The DNC Chair (at the time) Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the Sanders campaign had “inappropriately accessed” data belonging to Clinton's campaign but it happened because of a software patch and not wrongdoing on the part of Sanders staff.

There's no reason to believe that the election results were affected by this.

Sources

Government Technology, What’s the Deal with the Sanders/Clinton Data Breach?

Snopes, Bernie Sanders Campaign Data Breach Controversy

DNC Scandal and Corruption

The 2016 Democratic campaign exposed the dark side of how the Democratic National Committee operated. Most of the source material here is dated after the election so wasn't a factor during the election.

Superdelegates are undemocratic

Polling showed that Sanders did consistently better than Clinton against Donald Trump, so the Democratic Party needed its Superdelegates to blunt that advantage.

Sanders does better against Trump than Clinton

These two paragraphs appeared in a story run by Democracy Now!

The New York Times interviewed dozens of Democratic establishment leaders who will serve as “superdelegates” at the party’s nominating convention in July, and found the vast majority are so opposed to Bernie Sanders’s candidacy, they’re willing to risk damage to the Democratic Party. Of 93 superdelegates surveyed by the Times, nearly all said they would vote against Sanders in a brokered convention, if Sanders were to arrive with a plurality — and not a majority — of pledged delegates.

Many of the superdelegates are corporate lobbyists with healthcare clients opposing Sanders’s Medicare for All legislation. The Intercept’s Lee Fang reports one of them, Democratic National Committee member William Owen, donated exclusively to Republican Senate candidates during the last election cycle — including an $8,500 contribution to a joint fundraising committee designed to benefit Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

From Salon: “Bernie Sanders won the primary election in New Hampshire by a landslide in early February, with 60 percent of votes to Hillary Clinton's 38 percent. Sanders won every demographic group, excluding rich voters and those aged 65 and older. Yet, although Clinton drastically lost, she ended up leaving with an equal number of delegates. This is because of the superdelegate system.”

In a February 11, 2015 interview, CNN's Jake Tapper asked DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, “What do you tell voters who are new to the process who say this makes them feel like it's all rigged?”

She replied, “Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don't have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists,”

Here's the audio of that interview:

Sources

Democracy Now! Democratic Superdelegates Overwhelmingly Oppose Bernie Sanders Campaign

MSNBC Why does Sanders do better than Clinton against Trump?

NY Times The Superdelegates Are Nervous

Salon, Un-Democratic Party: DNC chair says superdelegates ensure elites don't have to run "against grassroots activists"

WAPO, We need more questions like this one from Jake Tapper to Debbie Wasserman Schultz

DWS resigns from DNC—but doesn't
Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Debbie Wasserman Schultz and DNC staff were found to be undermining the campaign of Bernie Sanders. This was discovered as a result of the Wikileaks release of 20,000 of the DNC's emails. Schultz resigned from the DNC but was immediately hired by the Clinton campaign.

Donna Brazile said the DNC and the Clinton campaign were essentially the same thing, so the DWS resignation was not what it seemed to be. DNC vice chair Donna Brazile served as Interim Chair through the convention and election.

Obama, Clinton, and Pelosi praised Schultz but Bernie Sanders said, “The party leadership must also always remain impartial in the presidential nominating process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race.”

Sources

Rawstory, Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign as DNC chairwoman

Tampa Bay Times, Obama, Clinton praise Debbie Wasserman Schultz amid controversy

Donna Brazile scandals
Donna Brazile book

On March 20, 2016, Donna Brazile admitted to cheating with primary debates. WikiLeaks revealed that Brazile had emailed John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, in March about her access to questions that would be asked at CNN-sponsored primary debates. “From time to time I get the questions in advance,” she told Podesta on March 12. She added, “I’ll send a few more.”

On October 14, 2016, CNN accepts Brazile’s resignation as a contributor.

On November 7, 2016, Brazile said she was not sorry for leaking CNN debate questions.

On November 7, 2017, Donna Brazile published a book titled Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House. An excerpt from the book appeared in an article in Politico Magazine titled Inside Hillary Clinton’s Takeover of the DNC.

Sources

Politico, Brazile: Leaking town hall topics to Clinton campaign 'mistake I will forever regret'

Wikipedia, Donna Brazile: Sharing debate questions with Clinton campaign

WAPO, Donna Brazile is totally not sorry for leaking CNN debate questions to Hillary Clinton

Fox News, Donna Brazile: Jake Tapper betrayed me after debate questions controversy

RealClear Politics, Brazile On Giving Hillary Debate Question: You Never Saw The Things I Gave To Sanders Or O'Malley

Observer, Donna Brazile Admits Cheating, But Clinton Campaign Has Yet to Apologize

WAPO, CNN drops Donna Brazile as pundit over WikiLeaks revelations

Politico, CNN severs ties with Donna Brazile

Class Action brought against the Democratic Party and DWS

On June 28, the Miami-based law firm Beck & Lee filed a class action lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee and DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz for rigging the election in favor of Hillary Clinton. The DNC lawyers argued that the DNC has the right to pick candidates “in back rooms”. Ultimately, the lawsuit was dismissed by the court even though the court agreed that the rigging did occur.

This news story did not get widely reported in the mainstream press.

Sources

Youtube, WE FIGHT BACK: Nationwide Class-Action filed Against Democratic Party and Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Observer, Debbie Wasserman Schultz Served Class Action Lawsuit for Rigging Primaries

Observer, DNC Lawyers Argue DNC Has Right to Pick Candidates in Back Rooms

Observer, Court Concedes DNC Had the Right to Rig Primaries Against Sanders

Warren agrees DNC was rigged against Sanders

On November 2, 2017, Jake Tapper interviewed Elizabeth Warren about the DNC rigging the 2016 election against the Sanders campaign:

The Hill calls for an apology

From The Hill: “The DNC had a secret deal with the Clinton campaign that made a mockery of the notion that the national party organization should be neutral in presidential primaries.”

and

“The DNC owes Bernie Sanders and his supporters an apology if it signed a secret deal in 2015 that sought to fix the 2016 nominating process.”

Apology? Maybe the DNC should reimburse the Sanders campaign contributors.

Sources

The Hill, The DNC owes Bernie Sanders and all Dems an apology

Politico, Democrats shaken and angered by Brazile book

Vanity Fair, Donna Brazile says she has "Proof" Clinton rigged the Primary Against Sanders

Youtube, BOMBSHELL: Donna Brazile Admits DNC Rigged Primary Against Bernie

Debates

These are complete videos of the 2016 Democratic Primary debates. Each is about two hours.