Presidency Hillary’s to Lose?
Mike Allen begins a story with a rather stunning aside: “Even many Republicans will tell you that the presidency this cycle is Sen. Hillary Clinton’s to lose . . . .”
Given how polarizing she is, can that really be the case? Maybe.
Months of head-to-head polls showing that every plausible Republican nominee would be her have now reversed. The current averages tracked by the folks at RealClear Politics have her beating or within striking distance of the Big 3, although the polls that make up those averages are all over the map:
In many cases, Barack Obama and John Edwards do even better but the current RCP poll averages have Clinton leading all comers for the Democratic nomination by 11.4% and Rudy Giuliani with an even 6% lead among Republicans.
If the election were held today (and I hasten to add it won’t be) we would expect Clinton to beat Giuliani by an incredibly narrow margin, right? Not necessarily.
First, the constituent polls are mostly (if not all) based on “adults” rather than registered voters, let alone likely voters. Giuliani may well be somewhat ahead of Clinton among those who will actually decide the election.
Second, we don’t decide presidential elections with a national popular vote but by 51 separate contests in the 50 states and the District of Columbia (which OTB hereby calls for the Democratic nominee, with 0% of the precincts reporting). We have no useful information about how those breakdowns will go at this point.
Third, there may well be one or more significant third party candidates again this year. We may have sore losers from the current primary crop, self-financed campaigns by the likes of Michael Bloomberg, and the Unity08 slate running. And there’s always Ralph Nader.
Regardless, Clinton’s numbers are hardly such that we’d say it’s hers to lose at this early stage. The nomination, yes, but not the presidency.