Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Hillary Conundrum

A stunning stat dropped into my in-box today: according to a new national poll, only 33 percent of Americans believe that Hillary Clinton could win the '08 presidential election if nominated. The survey, by the New York-based Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, also reports that she'd be trounced by 10 points if pitted against Republican John McCain.
For Hillary lovers, those aren't encouraging numbers, considering the fact that she has labored diligently as a U.S. Senator, has reached out and worked with her Republican counterparts, has steered clear of the Democratic party's liberal wing (especially with her backing of the Iraq war), and, except for her recent remark that the House Republicans have run their chamber like a "plantation," she has uttered hardly a syllable of colorful Bush-bashing rhetoric (the kind that the liberal wing loves to hear).
What it means is that Democrats will spend much of the next two years pondering the electability factor: can she win? and if not, should she be denied the nomination? I can't help but recall what transpired in Iowa in January 2004, when Howard Dean went in like a lion and was reduced to a lamb, thanks to the verdict of Iowans who decided he shouldn't win the caucuses because he'd never win in November. They gave the electability nod to John Kerry (not knowing, of course, that he'd spend valuable time in August wind-surfing and doing nothing while the GOP methodically Swift-Boated him).
So the Hillary electability debate arguably will be the biggest Democratic story in the impending presidential race. And as a public service, here's a worthy magazine article which contends that no she can't win. To mangle a phrase from a great television network: Amy Sullivan reports; you decide.