Monday, April 13, 2015

Can Hillary Clinton win?

That may seem like an odd question to some, given the Democratic Party's lock on a broad swath of the electorate in presidential election years, the ultimate popularity of the Clinton's while husband Bill was in office, her attractiveness to the women's vote, and her vast experience on her own as Secretary of State.  Her presidential run, however, is not without some hurdles.

One of those is the possibility that voters over a long election cycle could get Clinton fatigue just as Jeb Bush on the Republican side has a risk of Bush fatigue.  There was a distinct desire among voters in 2008 for something new, and that sentiment could be revived in 2016 as the economy offers still stagnant wages for most and there is a foreign policy that has seemed to be unclear to many from both parties.

Clinton also carries with her concerns about her age through no fault of her own, her genuineness and likeability,  the Clinton's now significant wealth, and, once again, now with no viable competitors within her party, a possible aura of entitlement.  The Republicans are now heading toward a robust primary campaign that has a significant youth component and will have as many as ten candidates, at first, competing to see who can attack Hillary and the Democratic Party with the most success, all on prime time.  This will mean lots of dead space for the Democrat's to fill, without the advantage of having a sitting President running.

The Hispanic vote was owned by the Democrats in 2012, but the Republicans have three candidates with Hispanic links running, two genuine and one through marriage and Spanish language ability.  To the some extent part of that growing ethnic group could be becoming more prosperous and looking for someone that they can identify with.  On the margin, that could have an impact, even while some states with large Hispanic populations like Texas and Arizona, unequivocally are already dominated by Republican voters.

The Black vote has been almost close to unilaterally in favor of the Democrats, especially in the last two elections, but the success of the Democratic Party in pushing parts of that significant voting bloc forward into somewhat higher levels of education and prosperity has led to a sense among some that their fealty is not guaranteed.  Certainly this too is only on the margin, but that could be meaningful in some states, especially if the Clinton campaign veers too far toward the center looking for support from parts of the downtrodden white lower middle class.

The newly important millenials are all over the voting map, but a significant number, more than any other voting group, will cast their vote based on environmental, gender equality, and gay rights issues.  The Republicans are clearly no challenge on these issues unless one of the more libertarian candidates takes up these causes, even in a cautious manner.

All of this is to say that the Democrats and Clinton will be running in a competitive campaign.  Whoever the Republicans choose, it will not be someone with an elitist and wooden projected image like Romney.  The election may be close enough that the candidate will not be the major issue.  The state of the economy could be.  If there is some major economic or market disruption in the next 16 months or so, voters could vote for change regardless.  If the economy stays on track and wage gains begin to kick more noticeably, voters could want more of the same.

It will be interesting.


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