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Woody Allen once famously said that 80 percent of life is just showing up. The problem for politicians is, it’s the other 20 percent that will win or lose you an election.

Like Woody, President Obama believes in the power of showing up. In an interview about the election on Monday, he told National Public Radio, “There are not only entire states but also big chunks of states where, if we’re not showing up, if we’re not in there making an argument, then we’re going to lose. And we can lose badly, and that’s what happened in this election.”

Showing up and making your case is important. Voters want to know that you’re willing to engage and make your case to them directly. But it was Democrats’ policies and values — not their lack of face time with voters — that ultimately did them in.

Hillary didn’t show up in crucial states like Michigan and Wisconsin, and spent too much time in states she was sure to win, such as California. She also seemed to spend much more time talking with rich donors than with Rust Belt voters.

But there’s reason to believe that it might not have gone so well had she shown up to explain herself to these voters.

To take one notorious example, in March, Clinton told a town hall meeting in West Virginia, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” She was trying to explain that she would bring “green jobs” to the state, but that comment didn’t go over well. When the Clinton campaign sent Bill to West Virginia ahead of that state’s Democratic primary, he was booed and heckled.

Engagement doesn’t matter much if the candidate’s proposed policies will put voters out of a job. Worse is a politician who seems like she is lying to voters or just telling them what they want to hear.

When Hillary showed up to a town hall in West Virginia right before the primary, a local confronted her about her previous comment on coal. Hillary apologized, insisted her remark was taken out of context and that it was a misstatement. It didn’t’ work. In the end, Trump won the state by more than 40 points.

There’s little reason to think the Democrats have started to recognize that their policies and values aren’t very popular with huge swaths of the country. “I don’t think there is something wrong with the core argument that the Democratic Party has made for years,” Obama told NPR.

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But there was something wrong with that core argument. For many voters, Clinton represented a continuation of the status quo — eight years of job-killing financial and environmental regulations, a preoccupation with political correctness, and a foreign policy that reduced America’s standing in the world. For eight years, millions of white working class voters, including many who had voted for Obama, felt alternately ignored and condescended to. Few could stomach the idea of four or eight more years of that.

Daniel Allott is deputy commentary editor for the Washington Examiner

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