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An Election Prediction a Year and a Half Out

April 22, 2015 1 comment

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Do not mistake this as endorsement or repudiation.  I don’t really care one way or the other if Hillary Clinton gets elected President.  Whatever happens, I’m sure the Republic will survive.   But as an amateur pundit who watches politics like a ghoulish NASCAR fan watches car racing- waiting for the spectacular crash- I’m sorry to inform you that my prediction is fairly mundane: Hillary Clinton will be elected the next President of the United States.

It doesn’t matter how many scandals are brought up, dredged up, or created.  It doesn’t matter how many Republican-backed books hit the best-seller lists on a monthly basis. Whitewater won’t matter.  Monica Lewinsky will not matter.  The State department e-mails will not matter.  The Clinton Foundation and which foreign governments did or did not contribute to it will not matter. We don’t even need to get into the latest CNN poll that finds she is ahead by double digits against all the potential GOP candidates. Surely, that will narrow significantly.

But Hillary Clinton’s narrative is set. She has been such a long-time player in American political life that opinions about her are concluded, cemented, done and finished.  The real question is this:  Is the tiny number of American voters who have no opinion of Hillary Clinton larger than the roughly 2 to 3% margin that her positive ratings generally outpace her negative ratings?

The opposition will have a new attack line every month right up until Election Day.  And every single time, regardless of the merits of the arguments, Hillary Clinton will call it predictable partisan vitriol and the slight majority that supports her will completely agree.  Partisan attacks on Hillary Clinton will be eaten up like candy by the anti-Hillary faithful but will change not one single mind among her supporters and I’m not sure there are enough “undecideds” left to make any difference.

The Soft Launch

There was much criticism of the “soft launch” of the Hillary campaign.  Many liberals and just about all conservatives, seemed to blanch at what they saw as the emptiness of her announcement video.  She was waging identity politics, they argued, featuring nothing more than a cartoonish smorgasbord of African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Gays in her ad.  She had no policy details whatsoever. Her vow to be the champion of the middle-class echoed hollow to the critics from the left and the right.

Politically/strategically- it looks like it pretty much did the trick.  You could see it in the grudging back-handed compliments from the opposition’s punditry class.  “Slick but empty,” was the common refrain from conservative commentators like Jennifer Rubin.  What was noticeable was the recognition that the ad was actually pretty smooth.  It was, like her or hate her, good packaging.

Politico had these quotes from Republican operatives in Iowa and New Hampshire, about Hillary Clinton’s soft launch:

 “Honestly, I was very impressed,” said a top Iowa Republican…“She’s always been seen as cold. I think this helps warm her up for the general election. It also creates a soft launch for her.”

“She can be very hard to listen to speak, at times shrill, so this was refreshing and a little inspirational,” said a second Iowa Republican. “She knows she needs to earn people’s vote. It’s a smart way to brush off being the ‘anointed one.’”

“The drive to Iowa is the smartest play I’ve seen her make in a while,” declared a New Hampshire Republican.

A second Granite State Republican described the road trip as a masterstroke. “The campaign is, rightly, underplaying it and letting the social media activity promote her and her travels,” he said. “Really, really well played.”

But “where’s the beef?”  Of course, this was all empty calories.  That’s the nature of American politics.  Joe McGinnis articulated it all quite nicely in the Selling of the President written in 1968.  Forgive my cynicism, but when was the last time we expected any kind of substance at all from a politician?  Besides, everybody knows Hillary Clinton is a total policy wonk and would greatly prefer noodling policy then actually campaigning.  I would bet she’s being urged to NOT be that policy wonk, and instead is being counseled to be warm, approachable, humble, Grandmother-like (who doesn’t love grandmothers?) and also generic, non-specific and pure pabulum.

But does it really matter?  Whether she articulates to the granular level or not on every issue known to man, don’t most folks have a pretty good sense that Hillary Clinton will govern quite differently than whoever the Republicans will nominate (Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker, is my current pick to get GOP nod)?

Keeping the Obama Block

Some argue she will never approximate the block of voters put together by the Obama campaigns of 2008 and 2012.   I would concur.  But she doesn’t need to get to that level in order to win.  What she does need is a big turn-out election.  While polls are currently finding there may be less novelty and fascination with a woman becoming President than may have been generally assumed- I don’t believe those numbers.

On the eve of election day next year, a woman standing on the precipice of the American presidency, taking the mantle of Commander-in-Chief for the first time in history, potentially elected as the leader of the free world- will be a really big deal.  It will be historic in every sense of the word.  As has become patently obvious in the last two elections, large turn-out amplifies the country’s changing demographics just as surely as low-turn-out, mid-term elections distort them.

It’s just a prediction ridiculously offered more than year and a half before the main event.  A lesser margin than either of Obama’s victories, but a victory nonetheless.

Democrats Way Angrier With Hilary Rosen than Republicans


I don’t doubt a lot of the G.O.P. anger at the Democratic strategist’s comments that Ann Romney “has never worked a day in her life,” is totally genuine. But it would also be political malpractice if they didn’t take tactical advantage of the gift handed them by Hilary Rosen.

With the President enjoying an 18% advantage with women voters, Democrats were beside themselves today at Rosen’s clumsy words which she continued to double and triple and quadruple down on as night turned to morning. In an article on Huffington Post she further accused Mitt Romney of hiding behind his wife’s skirt. Within a couple of hours, that particular sentence had been magically scrubbed clean.

Apoplectic Democrats including the President, the Vice President, the First Lady, the Obama team’s campaign manager, his top advisors, and for all we know, Bo, the First Family’s dog, were falling all over themselves distancing themselves as far as possible from Rosen.

Republicans are now trying to paint her as a close advisor, an Obama intimate- the President’s brain. She is, in fact, the ultimate Washington insider. The PR firm she works for advises the Democratic National Committee and she gets invited to White House state dinners, but that’s about the extent of it. Certainly, whatever minor political influence she may have had is pretty much now dust in the wind.

The point Rosen was trying to make is that Mitt Romney’s efforts to close the gender gap by saying his wife is a key advisor on the economic plight facing the nation’s women provides a narrow view because Ann Romney has had distinct economic advantages through her life.

But as a breast cancer survivor, a victim of Multiple Sclerosis, and as a woman who raised five boys, Ann Romney is also an incredibly sympathetic figure who most political observers agree connects with voters way more effectively than her husband. So on top of that, Rosen’s perceived additional attack on “stay-at-home” moms, was possibly not the smartest move for a political “strategist.” One wonders, while she was at it, why Rosen didn’t go on and assault apple pie as well.

As the Ozzie Guillen of politics (the Miami Marlins Manager who set off a firestorm by telling Time magazine he loved Fidel Castro), Ms. Rosen is not very popular right now in Democratic circles. I think she’s been invited to her last White House dinner and if I were her, I would not be looking for an invitation to the Democratic convention either.

Is this a lasting issue? I think so. The Romney’s will shortly be giving an interview to ABC’s Dianne Sawyer. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to hear Mitt Romney make reference to the matter in his convention speech. Ann Romney has been made a heroine and her value to the campaign, in general, is now enormous.

As more than a few conservative bloggers have pointed out today, who would have thought it would be a Democratic “strategist” who would finally unite the Republican Party behind their presumed nominee?