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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Weak Candidate

Despite Bill Clinton's enduring popularity among Democrats, I think it's interesting how divisive a figure HRC is in the Democratic primary. Look at the state-by-state polls. Even in places where the campaign is not remotely underway, HRC rarely has 50% of Democrats polled. She has 100% name recognition; she is the wife of a popular former president; she is the familiar safe choice for all the low-information voters out there. And she is still a long way away from unifying the party.

Here are the Real Clear Politics averages of recent polls in some big states where the campaign has never gotten underway:

California: HRC 43.5, Obama 31.5, Edwards 10.5
Florida: HRC 48.8, Obama 29.8, Edwards 11.3
New York HRC 50.2, Obama 27.5, Edwards 9.5
New Jersey HRC 45, Obama 26.7, Edwards 10.3

Now these polls obviously require Obama to make up an enormous amount of ground, probably more than he can do. But it shows how weak a candidate HRC is within her own party.

This is another reason why I think divisions in the Democratic party are more serious than most think. HRC just is not a consensus choice among Democrats. Obama is getting more congressional endorsements every day. This is quite a fight.


At 5:28 PM, Blogger WilsonDeGreat said...

She's still at 66% on Intrade; that's not THAT far down from her peak of 75%. . .looking at these numbers now if you think, like some pundits I read, that last night's debate could potentially bode well for Edwards, you are getting pretty good odds--100 to 1. . .

At 5:39 PM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

The bizarre thing about the Intrade market is not the Dems: I'd give HRC 2:1 odds. But the GOP side makes NO sense. It has McCain at over 50%, well above Romney who's in the mid-20s. Huh? Mccain's frontrunner status is much more precarious than HRC's.

At 6:09 PM, Blogger DK said...

On the other hand, she's still close to 50% against a rock star - with some of the best political skills in decades - and a very good candidate making strong populist appeals to (a large part of) the base.

Obama needs to go on the attack.

At 6:33 PM, Blogger Frances said...

I don't at all mean to imply Hillary's chances of winning the nomination aren't excellent. They are. She will probably get the pluralities she needs. I do not expect Obama to win (sadly). I just think it's interesting and significant that she doesn't have stronger support.

Obama may be a rock star, but no politician can be a rock star unless you're a political junkie or close to it. Hillary, on the other hand, might as well be Princess Diana. Even people who do not know the first thing about politics & who get their public affairs news from the National Enquirer know her. All that nice retrospective glow from the Clinton years surrounds her. The fact that this is all she can pull under those circumstances shows a big resistance to her out there.

Ideally, a nominee ought to be the overwhelming choice of a party.

At 11:54 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

"Ideally, a nominee ought to be the overwhelming choice of a party."

But isn't it exciting that this isn't the case? And not because people are groaning over the lesser of 3 evils, but because people are eager and motivated in their support of Obama or Clinton or whoever.

I'm not convinced that this is simply Hillary as divisive. This race is so interesting precisely because there isn't one overwhelming choice -- on either side.

Why can't the lack of support for HRC be read as support for Obama, (albeit not enough support for Obama to push him to the front)? In other words, support for Obama not in reaction/against Hillary, but in and of itself. This point strikes me as significantly different from the way you frame it. I think more evidence is needed beyond poll numbers to show one candidate as divisive.

I think that the internal debate for Dems is significant in motivating larger groups of voters to act, and that this will be significant if Obama and Clinton run *together*, which, at this point, would be the most exciting outcome.

At 7:30 AM, Blogger Frances said...

I hope HRC will be able to unify the party. Maybe it's just my southern background, but I know lots of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who just HATE her and will not vote for her under any circumstances (will either vote GOP or will stay home).

I'm not a fan of HRC myself, but for totally different reasons. The reason why my less politically involved relatives/friends don't like her is that they don't trust her personally and see her as power hungry, cold, calculating, and careerist.

As with Princess Di and other celebrities, folks can have very strong feelings about them, almost like they know them. HRC both benefits and suffers from that dynamic.


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