On all sides of the race, a line of win­ners, losers

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Chris Mege­rian

Even before the elec­tion re­sults were tal­lied, some clear win­ners and losers emerged from the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

Not many sur­vived this tu­mul­tuous and dispir­it­ing race with their rep­u­ta­tions in­tact. Repub­li­cans per­formed pret­zel-like con­tor­tions to ac­com­mo­date Don­ald Trump, and Demo­cratic lead­er­ship was bruised by a series of con­tro­ver­sies that raised ques­tions about the fair­ness of their pri­mary process.

Win­ners

Bernie San­ders: The Ver­mont se­na­tor started his cam­paign for pres­i­dent as a cu­rios­ity, a so­cial­ist with lit­tle in­flu­ence in Congress. But his un­kempt de­meanor and pas­sion­ate mes­sage about eco­nomic in­equal­ity struck a chord with dis­af­fected young vot­ers and un­sat­is­fied lib­er­als who viewed Hil­lary Clin­ton as in­suf­fi­ciently hon­est or pro­gres­sive.

San­ders re­mained a force un­til the pri­mary’s end, us­ing his po­lit­i­cal clout to drag the Demo­cratic Party fur­ther to the left on is­sues such as in­creas­ing col­lege af­ford­abil­ity and rais­ing the min­i­mum wage.

Michelle Obama: Once a re­luc­tant po­lit­i­cal wife, the first lady has been a force to be reck­oned with on the cam­paign trail. It be­gan with a stir­ring speech at the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion, which in­cluded a phrase that be­came a mantra for Clin­ton’s team — “When they go low, we go high.”

But Obama so­lid­i­fied her stand­ing as the Democrats’ moral mes­sen­ger in Oc­to­ber when she tar­geted Trump’s boasts about sex­ual as­sault, which were re­vealed in a leaked record­ing from “Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood.” In a blunt- Ver­mont Sen. Bernie San­ders struck a chord with young Demo­cratic vot­ers. ly emo­tional speech, Obama said she was “shaken to her core.”

Megyn Kelly: Fox News was rocked this year when long­time chief Roger Ailes was ousted over a series of sex­ual ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tions. The scan­dal tar­nished not only Ailes but oth­ers at the con­ser­va­tive net­work who rushed to his de­fense even as more sto­ries of his in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­ior emerged.

But Kelly, an an­chor, helped bring Ailes’ reign to an end by qui­etly telling in­ves­ti­ga­tors that she her­self had been the vic­tim of his un­wanted ad­vances. It was one episode in a tur­bu­lent year for Kelly, which in­cluded a bar­rage of in­sults from Trump af­ter she ques­tioned him in a pri­mary de­bate about his track record of mak­ing of­fen­sive and dis­mis­sive com­ments about women.

Losers

Reince Priebus: When Mitt Rom­ney lost the 2012 elec­tion, the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee chair­man pledged to chart a new course for his party. In a widely cir­cu­lated “au­topsy re­port,” Priebus said Repub­li­cans must reach out to mi­nori­ties in a coun­try that was be­com­ing more di­verse, and he urged com­pro­mise Texas Sen. Ted Cruz changed his tune and backed Don­ald Trump. on con­tro­ver­sial im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies.

None of that came to pass. In­stead, Repub­li­cans nom­i­nated Trump, who alien­ated blacks, Lati­nos and women. The party faces a reck­on­ing with the coun­try’s chang­ing de­mo­graph­ics, a prob­lem that only wors­ened while Priebus was in charge.

Ted Cruz: It wasn’t long ago that the Texas se­na­tor took a stand, re­fus­ing to en­dorse Trump in a speech at the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion. The decision made sense for per­sonal and po­lit­i­cal rea­sons.

But Cruz threw all that away in Septem­ber when he is­sued a widely mocked en­dorse­ment of Trump. It re­mains to be seen how wide the fall­out will be — Cruz faces re-elec­tion in two years.

Demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions: If there was a word of the year, it was “rigged.” Al­most ev­ery im­por­tant Amer­i­can in­sti­tu­tion was ac­cused of be­ing rigged — the po­lit­i­cal par­ties, Wall Street, the elec­tion process, the polls, the media, the FBI.

Trump was the pri­mary in­sti­ga­tor. He spread con­spir­a­cies about ram­pant voter fraud and ac­cused re­porters of un­fairly cov­er­ing his cam­paign.

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/GETTY-AFP

RICH PEDRONCELLI/AP

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