Campaigns are brutal things. Sometimes a candidate simply gets run over by historical currents that weren't in that candidate's field of vision. It is a very unpleasant experience if you've ever been there.
I worked one of these campaigns, locally, in 2000. My candidate was a good, decent woman with an honorable history of community activism and administrative achievement. She had a grasp of the intricacies of city policy rarely seen in local candidates. She had solid endorsements from office holders in the area.
She also had a tin ear. The electorate in her district had been battered by evictions and gentrification -- a wave of anger at economic conditions that were rapidly altering their home landscape gripped many people. She didn't get it. She had a house that no one was going to take away from her. Her pocket of the neighborhood was pleasant and stable. Why didn't people care about the glut of cars, the deficit of usable public transit, the need for an environmental plan for the city?
They didn't care that year, even though she was right and forward thinking. Another, not nearly so "qualified," candidate understood and spoke the district's rage. My candidate plummeted to a dismal 3rd in a race she had led. All that experience and good sense didn't do a thing for her.
Obviously this is very familiar. Substitute wars and a crashing economy and we see Hillary Clinton today. Her campaign didn't comprehend where the U.S. people were going -- and might not have been able to speak to that movement even if she/they had understood.
Candidates win who are able to catch the popular winds. To some candidates, those popular winds are unimaginable amid the clamor of conventional wisdom and political consultant advice.
The same winds are equally invisible to jaded political observers. I certainly didn't think Clinton could be blown off course by a well-organized hurricane of discontent with the status quo. I was wrong. I couldn't see it either. Sometimes, something unexpected can happen here.
By the way, the most ridiculous charge against the Clinton campaign floating around is this:
Whatever they may have wasted on dumb pollsters and inept media consultants, that expenditure was not waste. Pizza and donuts keep the world turning and the workers trudging on any campaign.