Hillary Rodham Clinton, former first lady to one of the most popular American Presidents to ever hold the office, and current junior Senator from New York, is the cash leader as well as the front runner for the Democratic Nomination in all national polls. But does that mean she can win her party’s nomination? No.
A Clinton nomination is the dream of the Republican-right, and for several reasons.
With the unpopularity of the Bush administration and Bush policies, most of America is ready for a change. As a result, among the biggest problem that Republicans will have in 2008 is getting conservatives to the polls. With an attitude that a democratic victory is a foregone conclusion compounded by the fact that GOP frontrunners like Mitt Romney and Rudolph Giuliani are anything but inspiring to the Republican base, conservatives may very well stay at home come election night.
A Hillary Clinton candidacy in the General Election changes all of that. As the single most polarizing figure in politics, the mere mention of her name will send her opposition to the polls in droves, not to vote for their man, but to vote against her. With this notion in mind, it is self-evident why Hillary’s name is mentioned two-dozen or more times in GOP debates and countless times in Republican stump speeches.
As badly as many Republicans want to see Clinton get the win, many Democrats are looking for someone who is anyone but her.
Democratic leaders recognize Hillary’s polarization factor as a negative for their party as well.
Democrats won a majority in the House of Representatives in 2006, but in many districts the margin of victory was slim, such as in the Arizona 5th, where Harry Mitchell defeated the popular Republican JD Hayworth by a margin of only 5%, the Connecticut 2nd where Democrat Joe Courtney defeated incumbent Republican Rob Simmons by only 0.04%, just 92 votes. All 435 seats in the House are up for reelection in 2008.
In silent opposition to Hillary’s candidacy, Democratic leaders fear that her name on a ballot would be enough to cause with winds of fortune to blow just slightly enough in the other direction, and result with a loss of Democratic seats in Congress.
“She’ll certainly get Republican riled up. They will not only go out and vote against her, they’ll stop off at their neighbors’ houses along the way and drag them to the polls,” an anonymous House Democrat told TIME Magazine.
Certainly Democrats have a lot to fear from a Hillary Clinton nomination and Republicans have everything to gain.
If not Hillary, then Barack Obama, right?
Some logic might suggest that the Illinois Senator Barack Obama is second in line to win if Democratic voters decide against Clinton. He is second in most state and national polls, and he has consistently placed second in fundraising ability. However, that doesn’t make him a shoe-in either.
The reason for Obama’s high polling numbers isn’t because of his youth, looks, or the appeal of his message, but because he is the candidate, out of both parties, to receive the least amount of negative news coverage. In fact, coverage of Obama in the media is overwhelmingly positive according to a recent study by the Project of Excellence in Journalism.
Out of all of the media’s coverage of Barack Obama, 46.7% is overwhelmingly positive, while only 15.8% is negative. These numbers are stunning considering that Hillary Clinton’s coverage is 26.9% positive vs. 37.8% negative and GOP frontrunner Rudolph Giuliani’s coverage is 27.8% positive vs. 37% negative.
When examining Obama’s positives, they are more stunning when each media market is examined individually. With newspapers, 70% of stories about Obama are positive and with network evening news the number is 55%. The only place in the media were Obama receives a greater amount of negative coverage than positive is in conservative talk radio.
Fears of racist allegations may be driving the media to hold off on criticisms that may be more forthcoming with other candidates. When presidential candidate and Democratic Senator from Delaware Joe Biden paid Obama a compliment saying that he was “clean-cut” and “articulate,” he was attacked for making supposedly racist remarks. It is understandable why the media might be more than a little bit shy about running negative Obama stories.