This election may have been the ultimate experiment in framing, confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance.
In short, Trump voters rejected the truthful negative stories about Trump and believed the mostly false negative stories about Clinton. They gave more weight to nonsensical propaganda posted on Facebook (many created from whole cloth by Macedonian opportunists) than the numerous researched and reported stories from the Washington Post, NY Times, Newsweek, etc.
Millions of Americans came into this campaign with positive opinions of Trump and negative opinions of Clinton and they ended up sticking with that set of beliefs no matter what information they were faced with, in fact if anything those beliefs were reinforced.
That’s how hard it is to reach people and change minds. First, understand that people are like this, whether you call them stupid, ignorant, naive or just plain American. Second, you have to be willing to manipulate them, as Republicans are, by appealing to those beliefs, fears and biases. The Clinton campaign did a whole lot of messaging on Trump, hardly anything on cleaning up her own baggage, if that was even possible. All the very smart people in Brooklyn believed it was enough to keep driving Trump’s negatives. And they might have pulled it off if those damn meddling kids at the FBI hadn’t sent a letter to Congress 3 weeks before the election. That was all she wrote, the proverbial last straw for many potential voters.
Chris Hayes tweeted a thought experiment: what if the timing of the Comey letter and the Access Hollywood tape had been reversed?
But it’s also possible that even in that instance the Clinton negatives outweighed the Trump by the shear length of their existence and breadth of acceptance. They were potentially insuperable.
That the DNC would never even accept that reality and have that debate is the biggest scandal they’ll have to answer for.