Sunday, September 23, 2007


The problem for Hillary is not her lead among Democrats. It's the negative perception of her among all voters, which verges on 50%. Hard to win an election if you start out there.

Granted, it's not impossible. Nixon had high negatives in 1968 (though I don't have a number). Of course, like Bill Clinton in 1992, he had a third-party candidate splitting the vote. Hillary is more likely to be a victim of a third-party candidate than a beneficiary.

The problem for voters who want change is twofold: Which candidate(s) would make a change? Which candidate(s) can get elected?

To me, Hillary looks like a loser on both counts. She's too strongly tied, and by all appearances willingly, to the foolish unilateral centrism of Beltway Democrats and their useless consultants and corporate hangers-on. She'd keep Social Security more or less intact and appoint more Stephen Breyers, which would be a marginal improvement, but she wouldn't do anything to close this Second Gilded Age. I suspect she would also decide to leave a garrison in Iraq of, say, 80,000 troops, giving the neocons exactly what they wanted from the beginning. Splitting the difference is the right move if you believe in triangulation as a principle of governing, as I think Hillary does, based on her performance in the Senate.

In any case, the challenge for Hillary, if she is the nominee, is to push her existing negatives down, which is always difficult. On the other hand, Obama and Edwards need only keep their negatives from rising too much, which should leave them more money to expose the Republican nominee's eager Bushism. (Against that, Hillary has more of that corporate money; maybe she can afford to do both.)

The most important question about Hillary's negatives is: How much comes from the left? I suspect not much; if a pollster called me, I'd grit my teeth and go positive because I know how these polls get used. And it's true I'll support Hillary if she's the nominee.

Granted that much of Hillary's large negative image comes from the right. That's not going to change, and I'm not worried about it. Even if a few of them think she's a nice person or they sympathize with her over her marriage, they aren't going to vote for her. But there's just too much venom left over from the negatives among independents, persuadables, and the vapid idiots who only pay superficial attention and vote based on taking seriously their own uninformed whims.

Hillary's too centrist, but I'm not even flirting with the Greens. Why not? I want change immediately, and I think it's possible, despite the Congressional Democrats' utter failure this year to do much of anything against the Bushists' fascist dreams.

The Greens are willing to wait for structural political change, a promise that seems timely to them only because they're already economically comfortable. For them, half a loaf is not better than none.

So, Edwards or Obama?

(First posted on Pharyngula.)

No comments: