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January 25, 2006
Democrats Catching Up To Hillary's Negatives (Updated And Bumped)

Hillary Clinton may cruise to re-election for the Senate in New York, but the Democrats have grown increasingly nervous about the prospect of her run for the Presidency in 2008. The New York Sun reports that internal and external polling show that Clinton faces a hostile electorate, particularly in the South and Midwest, and would lose against most Republicans despite her predicted strength in the primaries:

Senator Clinton's emergence as the early and perhaps prohibitive favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 is fueling anxiety among Democratic strategists and operatives who are worried she would lose to a Republican in the general election.

Recent polling underscores some of those worries. In a CNN/USA Today/ Gallup poll made public yesterday, 51% of voters said they would definitely not vote for Mrs. Clinton if she chooses to run for president in 2008. In a separate nationwide poll conducted this month for a spirits company, Diageo, and a political newsletter, the Hotline, 44% of all voters and 19% of self-described Democrats said they viewed the New York senator unfavorably.

According to Democratic Party insiders, such numbers are adding to skittishness about Mrs. Clinton's potential candidacy. ... A former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, Richard Harpootlian, is among those who will own up to such misgivings. "Mrs. Clinton, because of some positions she has taken over the years, gets a visceral reaction to her here, both negative and positive. I'm afraid around the South and Midwest the visceral reaction is not good," he told The New York Sun.

Part of this skittishness, as one person put it, has been the relentless partisan nastiness that the Democrats have exhibited throughout the Bush presidency. Even Leon Panetta admits that the negatives surrounding Hillary have something to do with the "bitter political fighting" and a continuation of "hate" politics. Had the Democrats settled into the traditional role of the loyal opposition, eschewing character assassination and instead offering coherent alternative strategies and legislative choices, the political temperature would have declined to a point where the nastiness both sides displayed during the Clinton's term would have faded to dull memory.

Instead, the Democrats -- especially in the Senate, where they have done everything possible to obstruct the Bush administration -- have done little except act like petulant children. Nowhere has that been displayed more prominently than in the Judiciary Committee hearings on judicial nominees such as William Pryor, Janice Rogers Brown, and now most of all Samuel Alito. All of them have faced smear campaigns of the worst order, character assassinations led by a triumvirate of Democrats who during their political careers plagiarized speeches, employed staff that stole an opponent's credit report and publicized it, and abandoned a young woman to drown in his back seat after a car accident. It has provided the American electorate a constant reminder of the slimy ethics of the Clinton era and a strong desire to put as much distance as possible between them and a return to that kind of governance.

Most amazing, one of the smears against Alito was bigotry. Can anyone tell me what besides conservatism these three judicial candidates have in common? First one correct in the comments gets the kewpie doll.

If the Democrats want their front-runner to stand a chance in the election, perhaps they should consider that their actions while out of power have hardly acted to convince anyone that they deserve to return to running the show. They need to govern themselves before we trust them to govern us.

UPDATE: Here's the Gallup numbers. Gallup compares the response to Hillary to that generated by Condoleezza Rice, and it turns out that Rice winds up only slightly less polarizing than Hillary. She gets a 46% absolutely-not response from registered voters in Gallup's poll, as opposed to the 51% for Hillary. That seems rather remarkable, considering that Rice has never really campaigned or talked about her position on issues other than foreign policy, where one presumes she supports Bush's goals. Clinton has spent the last fourteen years playing hardball politics.

What's even more remarkable is that her long history of working the stump only translates to 16% strongly supporting her. Rice's lack of history in electoral politics should have put her far behind a seasoned politician like Hillary for passionate believers, and yet she polls within two points (14%) without ever having run for office before.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 25, 2006 9:06 PM

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