Hillary for 2016
But it does seem a good moment to predict that - health permitting - we’ll be welcoming Hillary Rodham Clinton to that same podium in four years’ time. Here are twelve reasons, from my cheap seats view on the wrong side of the ocean, to predict with a fair degree of confidence that Hillary will win in 2016.
1. If she wants the Democratic nomination, which it appears she will do, it is hers for the taking. No other potential Democratic candidate (Joe Biden? Andrew Cuomo?) could mount a successful challenge, unless she makes some catastrophic errors in the next four years. I mean, like, Romney-sized ones.
2. Of all possible candidates across the field in both parties, she is by far the best-known and most experienced in the corridors of power. Being known by the electorate is a powerful point in her favour, because the skeletons in her cupboard have all come out - and it turned out that several of them were actually her husband’s skeletons - and she does not need to prove herself or increase name recognition. Not only that, but lots of people actually like her these days.
3. She is in the enviable position of being associated with the good bits of Obama’s presidency (by all accounts she has been an excellent, popular, competent and diplomatically astute Secretary of State), and not with the bad ones (since she ran against him in the first place, and has had no real involvement in the domestic failures of his campaign). That’s a good combination.
4. Her popularity in the polls, tracked over twenty years (!), is in the mid-60s, an all-time high, as reported just before Christmas. That’s an astonishing number, and proves that the received wisdom five years ago, that half the country would never vote for her no matter what she did, was thoroughly wrong-headed.
5. Demographics favour the Democrats. The country is becoming more ethnically diverse, and particularly more Hispanic, and in recent years most Hispanics have gone left rather than right. Unless the Republicans figure out how to fix this, the natural evolution of the nation’s demographic mix will make it increasingly difficult for them to get elected at a national level.
6. Women vote more than men. The Hillary of ten years ago was still a source of suspicion to many women voters (remember the rolling pin episode of The West Wing?), but women voters have changed, and so has she. If she picks up 60% of the female vote, which is not unlikely, then her Republican opponent would need to get two thirds of the male vote to offset it, which certainly is unlikely.
7. Nobody can claim anything like as much experience of the commander-in-chief type bits of the President’s job description as Hillary. Secretary of State is about as good as it gets, in that respect. That will make the substantive areas of the campaign (policy, town halls, debates, etc) easier for her to win.
8. The Hillarycare debacle of twenty years ago is, well, twenty years ago. And in four year’s time, it will have been twenty four years ago. Nobody cares. And Obama’s pushed through a massively controversial HHS bill since then anyway.
9. The GOP has an electability problem, on the basis of social issues. Leaving convictions aside for a moment, which some Republicans do, they have to decide whether to stick to their guns on social issues like gay marriage, in which case they will alienate young people and an increasing percentage of the middle class, or soften their line, and alienate their base. (Obviously I’m talking about electoral politics here, rather than what is right or wrong). Either way, that makes a Democrat like Hillary more electable.
10. If Obama was able to win with a less-than-distinguished first term record and a half-baked economy, then assuming the economy is in better shape in 2016, which it probably will be, a Democratic victory looks probable.
11. Electoral maths (I can’t bring myself to call it “math”) favours the Democrats at the moment. The Pacific, the Northeast and Midwest will go blue, and the Rockies, the Plains and the South will go red (apart from Colorado). That just leaves the four big swing states - Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia - and a Republican victory would involve overturning three of them. Tricky.
12. Nate Silver says Hillary will win, and as we now know, Nate Silver is always right. His New York Times article has some interesting polling data and other considerations to support his prediction.
Putting these factors together, it looks to me as if the only person who could beat her, if she runs, would be a non-nuclear Arnie Vinick. And when your best shot is a fictional candidate, then you may be in trouble.