Monday, February 18, 2008

Hillary and the Correlation of Forces

Over at National Review, conservatives are stumping for Hillary Clinton as the Democrat nominee for president, but the leftists aren’t so sure: “Liberal op-ed writers and disenchanted former Clintonites aren’t huge voting blocs. But they are a symptom of what will be an enduring problem for Hillary. If she wins, she will have to regain support from the party elites. She will have to court affluent liberals, the nostalgic Ted Kennedy crowd, and African-Americans. She already had a problem with the left-wing ‘netroots,’ many of whom have long considered her a sellout over the Iraq War. She went to the Yearly Kos convention — where she was booed — and will be obliged to do much more to repair those relationships., the liberal outfit originally organized to defend the Clintons from their series of scandals, has endorsed Barack Obama. The closely contested primary means that Hillary will be wooing the most liberal constituencies among her party’s die-hards just when she would like to position herself as a pragmatic centrist who can appeal beyond the Democratic base.”

The undecideds tend to vote on personality and the broad issues, a tendency that may help Republicans if Hillary is the Democrat nominee. “‘She has tremendous baggage, high negatives, and she can’t be the candidate of change,’ says a top Republican strategist who pines for her to be the nominee. He explains that swing voters decide on the basis of personality and broad issues, such as whether or not the country is on the right track. He believes that Hillary opens up possibilities for Republicans in the same way that Al Gore and John Kerry did — in fact, she has the potential to act like a vote-repelling combination of the two. ‘Even though [swing voters] thought the country was on the right track, they didn’t like Al Gore,’ the Republican strategist says of the 2000 election. Republicans won in 2004 through massive turnout. ‘She turns out the Republican base in a major way,’ he says. ‘The more people see her, the less they like her. How will people like that laugh in ten months?’”

Hillary would be a liability for Democrats that just might offset Republican liabilities. Even though Republicans are faced with an unpopular president, an unpopular war, and a dispirited base, "The good news they look forward to is the nomination of Hillary. A House Republican leader believes that about 40 of the 60 House Democrats in congressional districts carried by George Bush in 2004 are vulnerable. He predicts they will be even more vulnerable when ‘we can hang Hillary around their necks.’ GOP leaders also expect their anemic fundraising to pick up if Republicans are running against Hillary.”

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