Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Is Hillary the strongest possible Democratic candidate?

Jonah Goldberg is changing his mind on Hillary:"I used to think that Hillary would be the best candidate for the Democrats. I don't anymore."

Unlike Jonah, I never did.

I wrote this (don't look for a link - I wrote it in an email, meant to post it, forgot) in July:
As to the election, it’s far too early to tell. Anyone who tells you that the Republicans have no chance to keep the White House is a fatalist Republican, a cock-eyed optimist Democrat, or just clueless. While there are things that look bad right now, things are going to change tremendously over the next 12 months. How they’ll change is anyone’s guess, but my expectation is that a year from now, the media will no longer be able to hide the fact that things are going well in Iraq, and that the world is better off because we went in. The Democrats are almost certain to nominate Hillary, and I remain convinced that she’s not a good bet to win a national election under any likely set of circumstances. She could conceivably win, but she’s got a lot of negative baggage, and there’s a substantial percentage of the population, I’m convinced, that will have no interest in having her in their homes over the next 4 years. Also, the congress has lower approval ratings than the President right now. The Republican nominee will be someone unaffiliated with the current administration, someone who can associate with whatever the perceived successes are without being tainted by the perceived negatives. The Democratic nominee is almost certainly going to be a Senator, which is rarely a good thing to be in a Presidential election.

Anyway, it certainly could go wrong – Hillary’s probably the likeliest next President (a horrifying thought), but it is by no means a
fait accompli...

And that wasn't the first time. Back in May of 2005, in response to a John Podhoretz article, I wrote that:
I have thought, and continue to think, that she's a terrible candidate, at least from a general election point-of-view. Yes, if she's the Democratic candidate, she'll have the complete "care and protection" of the mainstream media. (That differs from any other potential Democratic candidate how, exactly?) But the fact is, she's famous, but not likeable. She's cold, she's screechy - people are not going to want her in their houses every night. The fact is, the Democrats could not possibly find a candidate who starts out with higher negatives than Hillary. There isn't one. She's carrying all of Bill's baggage, and she doesn't have his likeability to take the edges off. Yes, she's been elected statewide in New York. New York is one of the most liberal states in the country, and she underperformed Al Gore by 5 points in 2000. I'm curious to see what happens this fall, but I'll be hesitant to read much into it.

I think she starts out with no chance at Republican men or men who lean Republican. I think that she can't get women who lean Republican. I think she alienates conservative Democrats, particularly men. I just think that she's really not a good candidate in a general election, and, if there is a plausible scenario by which she's denied the nomination, it'll be based on her (perceived or otherwise) lack-of-electability in the general election, much the same way that Howard Dean imploded.

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