Every Excuse Hillary Clinton Has Given for Her 2016 Election Loss

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton was criticised for swearing on TV. Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Hillary Clinton has blamed her election loss to Donald Trump on pretty much everyone and everything, most recently telling CNN's Fareed Zakaria that sexism kept her from shattering America's ultimate glass ceiling.

It's the latest attempt by the former secretary of state and two-time presidential loser to recast her 2016 loss. So we decided to compile all the reasons Clinton has given for why Trump is sitting in the Oval Office instead of her:


In the CNN interview on Sunday, Clinton said she didn't openly tout her feminist accomplishments during the 2016 election because of the misogyny that's "endemic" to America.

"I was the beneficiary of these radical changes in, you know, women's rights and opportunities that began in the '60s and continue, and that I could have and maybe should have tried harder to tell that story," she said. "I never thought there would be that receptive an audience."

Clinton first spoke out about misogyny's role in the election at a May Women for Women event, saying simply, "Yes, I do believe it played a role" when asked directly about it. Since then, she's becoming increasingly outspoken on this point in particular, touching on it multiple times in her new book, What Happened. In the memoir, she writes that "sexism and misogyny" helped Trump, a "flagrantly sexist candidate," clinch his presidential win.

Barack Obama

Both Obama and Michelle Obama stumped for Clinton on the campaign trail. But in What Happened, Clinton suggested the former president could have done more to emphasize the urgency of Russia's interference in the election.

"I do wonder sometimes about what would have happened if President Obama had made a televised address to the nation in the fall of 2016 warning that our democracy was under attack," she writes. "Maybe more Americans would have woken up to the threat in time. We'll never know."

Bernie Sanders

It was no secret Sanders was something of a thorn in the side of Clinton and her campaign, but Clinton is still nursing the wound.

"He resorted to innuendo and impugning on my character," she says in her memoir, and caused "lasting damage." Clinton goes on to suggest Sanders set up Trump for his "Crooked Hillary" campaign and divided and disrupted the Democratic Party, blocking her path to victory.

James Comey

In some of her first comments about the election, Clinton blamed the former FBI director, who she believes caused irreparable damage in the final stretch of her campaign. On October 28, Comey sent a letter to Congress announcing that he was reopening the bureau's investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server.

"If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president," Clinton told CNN's Christiane Amanpour at the May Women for Women event.

Self-Hating Women

In perhaps one of her most controversial explanations for her election loss, Clinton said not enough white women supported her because they let men tell them how to vote.

"All of a sudden, the husband turns to the wife, 'I told you, she's going to be in jail. You don't wanna waste your vote.' The boyfriend turns to the girlfriend and says, 'She's going to get locked up, don't you hear? She's going to get locked up,'" Clinton told Vox in September. "Instead of saying, 'I'm taking a chance, I'm going to vote,' it didn't work."

The Media

Trump has famously railed against the press, but Clinton says the media should shoulder some of the blame for her loss.

Specifically, in What Happened Clinton blames The New York Times for giving her email scandal too much front-page attention during her campaign. Its reporting, she says, ultimately "affected the outcome of the election."

Clinton also said cable news networks made it difficult for her to get her message across to voters. "When you have a presidential campaign and the total number of minutes on TV news...was 32 minutes, I don't blame voters," she said in September on The View. "Voters are going to hear what they hear.... They don't get a broad base of information to make judgments on."

Uninformed Voters

Yet even as Clinton refuses to blame the voters, she sort of does, because they were too quick to buy into Trump's flashy campaign style.

"I was running a traditional presidential campaign with carefully thought-out policies and painstakingly built coalitions, while Trump was running a reality-TV show that expertly and relentlessly stoked Americans' anger and resentment," she writes in What Happened.

Voter Suppression

At Recode's Code Conference in May, Clinton said Republicans' voter suppression crusade played a role in her loss:

You had effective suppression of votes. Those of us who can remember the Voting Rights Act, the expansion of the franchise, and then I was in the Senate when we voted 98 to nothing under a Republican president, George W. Bush, to extend the Voting Rights Act.

And the Supreme Court said, "Oh, we don't need it anymore," throws it out, and Republican governors and legislatures began doing everything they could to suppress the vote.


"I was on the way to winning until the combination of Jim Comey's letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off. And the evidence for that intervening event is, I think, compelling [and] persuasive," Clinton said in May, referencing the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee's emails.

In What Happened, Clinton also says Russian President Vladimir Putin's support for Trump was driven by his own anti-women sentiment, stacking the deck against her: "What Putin wanted to do was...influence our election, and he's not exactly fond of strong women, so you add that together and that's pretty much what it means."

At press events for her memoir, Clinton continues to warn Americans against Russia's power over Trump and the country.

"The Russians aren't done. This is an ongoing threat, and that is one of the reasons why I wrote the book and one of the reasons I'm talking about it," she said on Sunday at Southbank Centre's London Literature Festival.

Her Campaign Staff

According to two former campaign staffers who penned the book Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign, Clinton threw the lot of them under the bus for "failing to hone her message, energize important constituencies, and take care of business in getting voters to the polls."

The Democratic National Committee

Certainly, the Democratic Party threw its support behind Clinton, but she said she inherited "nothing" from the DNC, which she says she had to save from financial ruin.

"It was bankrupt," Clinton said at the Recode conference in May. "I had to inject money into it—the DNC—to keep it going."

Campaign Finance Laws

At the same conference, Clinton said the "tech revolution" was "fully weaponized politically" and helped other candidates receive "unaccountable money."

"You had Citizens United come to its full fruition," Clinton said, referring to the Supreme Court decision on campaign spending. "So unaccountable money flowing in against me, against other Democrats, in a way that we hadn't seen and then attached to this weaponized-information war."

Jill Stein

Clinton blames the Green Party candidate for dividing the votes between her and Trump, handing Trump victories in key states.

"There were more than enough Stein voters to swing the result, just like Ralph Nader did in Florida and New Hampshire in 2000," she writes in What Happened.

The Electoral College

And, speaking of the 2000 election, Clinton damns the Electoral College for making her popular vote win irrelevant to the presidency.

"I think it needs to be eliminated," Clinton told CNN's Anderson Cooper in September, speaking of the Electoral College. "I'd like to see us move beyond it, yes."

Anthony Weiner

Amid a probe into Weiner's sexual exchanges online with a minor, FBI investigators uncovered a cache of then-spouse and Clinton aide Huma Abedin's emails, leading Comey to reopen the investigation into Clinton's private emails. Since Clinton considers Comey's email probe to be more or less the final nail in her campaign's coffin, it's no surprise she doesn't take Weiner's role in catalyzing it lightly.

"This man is going to be the death of me," she said of Weiner.

Her 'Basket of Deplorables' Comment

Just as Clinton supporters used Trump's "nasty woman" comment to fuel their candidate's campaign, so did Trump supporters with Clinton's "basket of deplorables" insult. Clinton realizes now that this was a grave mistake.

"I thought Trump was behaving in a deplorable manner," Clinton told CBS Sunday Morning in September. "I thought a lot of his appeals to voters were deplorable." But, she said, using the term ended up being a "political gift" for Trump and his campaign.


Clinton hasn't completely absolved herself of responsibility for her election loss. Though she faults Comey and the media for turning her use of a private email server into a full-blown scandal during the campaign, she admits that sending the emails from a personal device was "dumb."

"I take absolute personal responsibility. I was the candidate. I was the person who was on the ballot," Clinton said at the Women for Women event.