Monday, August 13, 2007

The Hillary Factor

If Hillary Clinton is the Democrat's nominee next year, then I will be there to support her. Nevertheless, I share the fears voiced recently by other Democrats in "red" states. I worry about both her electability and her impact on down-ballot races in Georgia.

Recently, I found myself in a conversation with several progressive women, all of whom are Democrats either elected to public office or women who have worked hard for a very long time to help get Democrats-especially Democratic women-elected to office. One of the women said, " What I'm trying to figure out is why I'm not sold on Hillary Clinton. I respect her, and in fact have a lot in common with her, but I'm just not sold." The conversation then began to turn around the same concerns that have gathered steam in the media over the last several days. Democrats-especially Democrats who have to stand for re-election in Red States-are worried that Clinton will be a drag on the ticket. She has been so demonized by the radical right, that there is worry that her unfavorables would cost not only her, but every candidate she is paired in an ad with.

Republicans have been running against Hillary Clinton for a decade and a half. They raise money just by mentioning her name. Is it fair? No. Is is accurate? No. But is it a fact? I'm afraid so.

I am a huge advocate of electing more Democratic women to public office. I have written here before that I think that doing so would change the tone of government, and anyone who read much of what I had to say when Cathy Cox was running for Governor knows that I would be thrilled to see the right women in the Governor's mansion or in the White House. So, why have I not thrown my primary support to Sen. Clinton? I do believe that John Edwards is the candidate most likely to lead this country in a new, positive direction, but almost as compelling as his strengths as a candidate is my fear that Clinton at the top of the ticket would spell trouble for Democrats like Jim Marshall and John Barrow-our congressmen who barely made it through the last election.

Some of my friends discount my concerns and are convinced that there is "no way" for Democrats to lose the election in 2008. If you believe that, then you just haven't been paying attention. While the President's approval rating is still low, the approval rating for Congress is even lower. The only people who are held in greater disdain than the administration that got us into Iraq are the people who got elected on the promise they would get us out, and have now failed to do so and thus are either counted impotent to stop this war or complicit in its escalation.

The American people went to the polls and telegraphed their disapproval of the war and the corruption in Washington. They hoped that the Democrats offered a life raft out of Iraq and away from the K-Street fueled corruption of Washington insiders. Instead, we are further entrenched in Iraq and our Presidential candidate who leads in the national polls sees no problem with taking money from lobbyists.

I don't know about you, but this doesn't sound like the making of a November 2008 cakewalk to me.


Anon said...

Perhaps not a cakewalk (few elections are) but she certainly has the best campaign and is the strongest debater (and there have and will be many debates).

She is a middle aged baby-boomer who probably reminds most of middle America of their moms not a fire-breathing dragon. The negative attacks have led voters to have low expectations of her (this may prove to be an advantage).

Her charisma is a surprise and she easily impresses with her command of policy, ability for nuance etc. Her negatives have gone down and oddly even 58% of republicans polled agreed that she is a good role model for women. Significant also the 55% who say she is a strong leader.

I predict a larger than usual turnout. I think the historical nature of the election and the fact that women vote in greater numbers will have an impact.

Further, it is very difficult for the male candidates to convince that they are the candidate of change...when you've never had a woman President.

Angela said...

I think the right will demonize anyone who wins the nomination, and believing the right's spin about Sen. Clinton's inability to "play well" in red states is playing right into their hands. I think they're afraid she will win and so are trying to convince Dems it will be easy to beat her. Many progressive southern women I know, especially progressive southern African-American women I know, are sold on her...

Amy Morton said...

I'm not sure that the polls at this point reflect much more than name ID. Most people I know, who are not politicos, are not yet tuned in to this race, and I tend to hang out with engaged, intelligent folks. It's impossible to say who will win at this point, but if the polls do matter, we might want to pay attention to the fact that John Edwards has the highest favorability and lowest unfavorability ratings of the Democrats, and does much better against Republicans than Clinton or Obama. That's why I'm headed to Iowa this week-not because I have anything but love for Hillary, but because I do want a Democrat to win the White House in 2008. Plus, if you live in a 'red' state, I challenge you to ask a dem who is running for re-election who they would like to have at the top of the ticket.