Sunday, May 31, 2015


We are now in the midst of the not-so-invisible primary and as the title suggests, this will be a look at likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

But Wait! This is an open seat. There is no sitting incumbent. History shows that there should be a scramble for this nomination, especially among the Democrats...

In a true role reversal, the Democrats are looking to a coronation of the heir apparent; the runner-up in the last contest. In contrast, the GOP is at 19 candidates and counting.

Hillary Clinton announced that she is running for the Democratic nomination in April 2015. This is a good time to look at her strengths and weaknesses and conduct a quick analysis of her candidacy.

  1. Perceived Experience. So much of politics and elections is defined by perceptions and the perception that she is ready and able to assume the office of the presidency on Day 1 is compelling. 
  2. Eight years as first lady, during which she was involved in both successful (women's initiatives) and unsuccessful (healthcare) policy goals. 
  3. Election as Senator from NY in 2000, an office to which she was easily reelected.
  4. Ultimately unsuccessful presidential run in 2008, during which she became a household name and gained invaluable experience running and almost winning a national campaign.
  5. Secretary of State posting provides foreign policy experience.
  6. Very weak opposition from the Left in terms of former MD governor O'Malley and Socialist Bernie Sanders. Looks like Elizabeth Warren who could cause more concern is not running. Former Reagan appointee turned Democrat Jim Webb will not be a factor.
  7. Gobs of money! And the ability to raise gobs more...
  8. Fond memories of the Clinton presidency - we can get two for the price of one again (inside joke from 1992 campaign). Bill will be helpful (as long as he behaves).
  9. Her gender and the ability to make history. This is a biggie.
  10. Over the years she has done a lot of favors that she can now call in.
Now for the negatives
  1. She had all the structural advantages of money and organization in 2008 and still managed to blow it.
  2. Does not take nor handle tough questions or unsupervised settings well.
  3. Clinton Foundation questions may blow up her face.
  4. Email scandal may blow up in her face.
  5. Does not have a politician's natural ability - appears to be cold and calculating without much pretense of genuine humanity. Sorry, but this IS the perception...
  6. Benghazi issue, although not seen as important by many in the public, is still around and will be investigated by the GOP-controlled House.
  7. She has made a lot of enemies on both sides of the aisle over the years. Democrats are not overly enthusiastic about her, but there are few alternatives.
  8. She is very polarizing. A Clinton administration would be fraught with more gridlock as the GOP is likely to keep control of Congress, at least initially.
  9. She is tied to President Obama's success or failure over the next 18 months.
  10. Rails against Wall St. but benefits from it - hypocrisy issue.
It is far too early to make any predictions, but I am fairly certain that unless the dynamics change - and change soon, that she will win the Democratic nomination fairly easily. I don't see Sanders be much of a threat - in fact he may help her look moderate as he is so far to the left. 

Hillary's strategy is to do enough to make this inevitable and keep any major opponents on the sidelines. But she is also flying under the radar for now to some extent (note very few press questions) so that she can run out the clock on any serious opposition within the party. Thus far it seems to be working. Well over 50% of Democratic primary voters are supporting her in the early polls and her opponents are registering in single digits.

Note that she is taking positions on social issues (immigration) that are to the left of President Obama. This helps her among the left of the party, Hispanics, and among younger voters. I would not be surprised to see her take other leftist positions to appeal to groups she will need in the general. Plus it helps neutralize any thoughts of a "Draft Warren" movement.

If serious opposition does not materialize by mid fall, the primaries and her nomination are a forgone conclusion (absent any major scandal or gaffes). She is already running against the GOP and ignoring her own party's opposition. This is a strategy that may backfire though as the perception of a coronation may not sit well with the general electorate. I would advise her to take on her opponents as it will build her credibility as a candidate who is going to work for the nomination.Avoiding the press is a long-term mistake as well as she cannot avoid them forever.

I place her changes at the nomination of over 90% right now. This is not your father's Democratic party where it was a free for all. Ironically, the Dems are behaving like the GOP where there would be a coronation of the person whose "turn" it was. And the GOP is now having a free for all.

This promises to be a busy year and a half. Next up, the GOP and why there are only four candidates with any chance of getting the nomination and only two who could possibly beat Hillary,


The Prof