November 8, 2007

Hillary's Hard Ceiling, Part II

USA Today reports on its latest Gallup polling that Hillary Clinton's negatives put her in the most precarious position in a general election than any other Democratic candidate. Eighty-five percent of Republicans, a majority of married men, and over a third of all women say they will never vote for the former First Lady, worse negatives than any other major contender running against her. While her strategist attempts to spin those numbers, Democrats may be getting nervous:

More than eight in 10 Republicans and more than half the married men in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll say they definitely wouldn't vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton for president.

The poll provides an early snapshot of who's ruling out Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama, the three leading candidates for the Democratic nomination.

Clinton, who tops national polls of Democrats, is strongest within her party. Only 10% of Democrats said they'd rule her out; nearly three times as many said they wouldn't vote for Edwards.

The new poll found that Clinton would defeat the leading Republican, Rudy Giuliani, in a hypothetical matchup. Still, some Democrats wonder whether she's potentially unelectable or a drag on candidates lower on the ballot, and rivals such as Edwards say they're better bets.

Mark Penn tried to shine a little positive light on the polling. He claims that Hillary shows gathering strength against Republican contenders, making her the best choice for Democrats. The shifts seem negligible; the head-to-heads have mostly remained in the margin of error, making most of these dead heats anyway. Rudy and Hillary have exchanged leads all year long.

Penn neglects to take something else into account. The head-to-head polling represents a comparison between apples and oranges. People widely expect Hillary to win the Democratic nomination, so her inclusion in these polls show that calculus. The Republican primary is much more unsettled, and some of the polling answers will include a bias among Republicans and independents that reflects the unsettled nature of the contest. That is, people may be inclined by the passions of the campaign to say, "I may as well vote for Hillary if the GOP nominates [fill in the blank]", or be inclined to say they'll support a third-party candidate instead. Once the Republicans nominate an actual candidate, those numbers will change.

Unfortunately for Hillary, those numbers have only one direction to go. She has alienated too many voters over the years to expect a popular resurgence -- and she doesn't have the campaign style to start one, anyway. She lacks the charisma and charm of her husband, and her recent attempt to soften her approach hasn't exactly won converts. If the Republicans find a candidate that can unite the base and still appeal to independents and centrists disaffected with Hillary, the Democrats will lose their opportunity to take the White House away from the Republicans despite the historical trends that point to a win in 2008.


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Click the photo for video Captain Ed and Hugh Hewitt make the case that Hillary is slipping and her nomination may spell a disaster for Democrats next November. Flap continues to assert she will be the Democrat nominee but will lose in a close race... [Read More]