Thursday, 31 October 2013

Hillary is "minded" to run

Liberal Democrat Voice (UK version, sorry American friends!) quotes a story from The Herald that at a recent dinner in St. Andrew's, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that she was "minded" to run for President in 2016.  This is probably the closest she has come to making a public statement of her intentions, and appears to have been missed by most of the US Press.  To my mind it is an odds-on certainty that she will throw her hat in the ring, and will win the Democratic nomination should she do so.

By keeping her name in the fray, she has effectively turned the tap off donations to any potential other contenders for the nomination such as Vice President Joe Biden, Maryland governor Martin O'Malley and former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.  Democratic donors don't want to throw money away by giving money to a campaign that will be likely be crushed by the Hillary bandwagon.  This helps to make it a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Hillary Clinton 1
No longer in two minds?
(Photo courtesy of Angela Radulescu on Flickr)

But... a new poll out shows a big drop in Clinton's approval ratings - a net drop of 18 points over the past 12 months.  Unfortunately we don't have the crosstabs to know what's driving the drop: is it Republicans and independents who approved of her job as Secretary of State are now reverting to the norm of seeing her as a polarizing Democrat; or is it that liberal Democrats thinking about the world post-Obama are souring somewhat on the idea of pragmatic middle-of-the-road Clintonism after the disappointing false dawn of the Obama administration?

Nonetheless, so long as the Republicans don't nominate Chris Christie (or perhaps at a stretch Jeb Bush) the presidency is hers for the taking.  Christie actually has higher approval ratings (+16), though one in four have yet to form an opinion of him (compared to pretty much no-one being opinion-less about Clinton).  If the Republicans were to nominate Ted Cruz, it's a question of whether Hillary could hit 400 electoral votes or not (i.e. a landslide), rather than if she would win.

The Christie factor is probably the one doubt that lingers in Hillary's mind: she thought in 2008 that the Democratic nomination would be a coronation and instead went through a bruising primary contest that she lost.  Eight years on the nomination will be a coronation, but if Christie has a shot at the nomination (which I think is unlikely, but more on that later) she will face a bruising general election for the presidency, which is as it should be.

The question is, at age 69 in 2016, can she face the prospect of another bruising contest and potential defeat?

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