Electorate Shifts Democrat, Dems Fear Hillary Drag
Two seemingly divergent trends are being reported today at Political Wire. First, Democratic pollster and strategist Stan Greenberg has released a study showing that most of the trends are moving his party’s way. At the same time, Democratic Party officials are very worried that Hillary Clinton, the clear frontrunner for the nomination, will turn off swing voters, especially in the down ballot races.
Can these things happen simultaneously?
Greenberg finds that Democrats are gaining among the educated, wealthy “opinion elite;” Independents “support a Democrat for president by 19 points;” young voters are “breaking to Democrats with landslide margins; and married women are moving back to the Democrats. With the exception of the first, all those trends follow my expectations given the unpopularity of the incumbent Republican president, the dismal performance of the recent Republican majority in Congress, and the state of the war in Iraq.
If it’s true that educated voters earning $75,000 a year — traditionally, a key part of the Republican base — are now overwhelmingly going with the Democrats by an 11 point margin, that would seem to spell doom for the GOP’s chances in 2008.
Then again, all those trends are for a generic ballot. It’s one thing for people who have traditionally voted Republican to get disgusted with the party. The question, though, is whether they’ll actually sit the election out, much less vote for the Democratic candidate.
Which brings us to “Hillary drag” factor.
She’s not the evil proto-Communist Dragon Lady of Rush Limbaugh caracature. Still, she’s probably more liberal than John Kerry and decidely more liberal than Al Gore. And there’s still plenty of animosity among the Republican electorate towards the Clintons.
Then again, I’m not excited by any of the prospects on the Republican side, either. Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, John McCain and Mitt Romney all have significant baggage that will alienate them from the base, let alone swing voters. And all the recent polls show that Republicans are less thrilled with their choices than the Democrats are with theirs.
It’s a maxim of politics that, no matter how bad the candidates are, one of them will win it. That’ll definitely hold true in 2008.