Some Democratic leaders, including Obama, think the effort is misguided
Now that a recount of the 2016 election is in full swing, many Democrats are waiting to see how Hillary Clinton and even President Obama will respond to the news. But they may be surprised to learn not everyone thinks it’s a great idea.
On Saturday, Clinton’s campaign lawyer announced the campaign will officially take part in the Wisconsin effort and that they would play a similar role if recounts take place in Pennsylvania, Michigan or other states where the margin was razor thin. It should go without saying that we take these concerns extremely seriously. We certainly understand the heartbreak felt by so many who worked so hard to elect Hillary Clinton, and it is a fundamental principle of our democracy to ensure that every vote is properly counted,” Clinton campaign attorney Marc Erik Elias said in a statement posted to Medium.
So, why didn’t the Clinton team come out earlier in support of a recount and why did she concede the election at all when even on November 8, it was clear she was headed toward a victory in the popular vote and that a number of states would be close enough to merit a recount?
First, Clinton put herself in a tough situation with her understandable criticism of Donald Trump when he refused to say he’d accept the results of the election. But it seems the real pressure came from the very top, with President Obama himself calling Clinton late on election night and urging her to concede to Trump when it became clear he would pass the 270 electoral vote threshold.
The White House has also made it clear they aren’t buying into the conspiracy theories about how electronic voting machines might have been hacked on election day, something Elias also said the Clinton campaign found no evidence for in their own audit. Plus, Obama himself has been vocal about the need for a smooth transition of power, something that could be put in severe jeopardy if a recount stalls the results of the election becoming official.
Former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer chimed in with another reason why Democrats want Clinton and her supporters to move on: The Senate. While most people believe the Republican retained control of the Senate on election night, it’s still technically up for grabs. That’s because there is a run-off race happening in Louisiana. Technically, the Republican is likely to win, but if Democrats were to rally their support, and money, into the state, anything is possible. As Pfeiffer tweeted:
“The amount of Democratic energy and money being wasted on recounts instead of trying to win the Louisiana Senate Race is mind boggling.”
He’s also been critical of Jill Stein, seemingly aligning with criticism from President elect-Donald Trump that her recount effort is a money-making “scam” to boost her own visibility under the guise of helping Clinton.
Now, if the recount effort gains steam, Obama and some of his fellow leading Democrats may change their tune. But if you’re wondering why they haven’t been more vocal in their support so far, the answer is a lot more complicated than it might appear on the surface.