Clinton is expected to formally declare her run for the 2016 Democratic
presidential nomination shortly. Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is a former United States Secretary
of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States. From 2009
to 2013, she was the 67th Secretary of State, serving under President
Mrs Clinton, who also served as a
senator for New York, ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in
2008 but lost to Barack Obama.
The overwhelming Democratic favourite, she has been expected to declare her candidacy for months.
Mrs Clinton was also first lady when her husband Bill Clinton was president.
She is expected to declare via social media.
Two very different presidents loom over Hillary Clinton’s
presidential campaign: Bill and Barack, each with incredibly dissimilar
styles and tenures in the Oval Office. The New York Times reports that
Clinton plans to take up Obama’s record as a torch.
Rather than run from Mr. Obama, she intends to turn to him as one of
her campaign’s most important allies and advocates — second only,
perhaps, to her husband, the other president whose record will hover
over her bid.
In a general election, Mr. Obama is expected to help Mrs. Clinton
raise money, and he would be asked to campaign for her in, among other
places, the most heavily African-American counties of the swing states
that he won in 2008 and 2012, according to numerous people briefed on
the plans, who discussed them on the condition of anonymity.
But even in those states, Mrs. Clinton does not plan to distance
herself from Mr. Obama’s record, advisers said. Rather, she intends to
praise, above all, the economic progress Mr. Obama has made, getting the
country out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and cutting the unemployment rate nearly in half.
Advisers say Mrs. Clinton will promise a “new chapter” that would
expand upon Mr. Obama’s efforts to address persistently stagnant wages
and rising inequality.
Obama, too, has “good reason to tolerate any gibes from Mrs Clinton, real or perceived,” the Times continues.
in control of Congress, [former White House press secretary Robert]
Gibbs said, “he needs her to win this election so that the things he
wants history to remember as his most consequential accomplishments
aren’t undone in the first 100 days of a Republican administration.”
Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions have been the worst-kept secret in US politics
Mrs Clinton, 67, is expected to release a video outlining her campaign themes but will put off a large, formal speech.
She will then travel to Iowa and New Hampshire, two early primary contests in the 2016 race.
her failed nomination bid in 2008, Mrs Clinton served as secretary of
state in Mr Obama’s first administration (2009-2013).
her punishing travel schedule – she visited 112 countries in four years –
she led the US response to the Arab Spring and the military
intervention in Libya in 2011.
Mr Obama praised her, saying at a
news conference at the Americas summit in Panama on Saturday that she
would make an “excellent president”.
And her successor in the
post, John Kerry, called her a “good friend”, telling ABC’s This Week
programme she “did a terrific job of rebuilding alliances that had been
shredded over the course of the prior years”.
‘Above the law’
Republican presidential contender Rand Paul criticised Mrs Clinton for
her handling of a September 2012 attack on a US diplomatic compound in
Benghazi, Libya, in which the US ambassador was among those killed.
He also said questions remained about funds received by a charity set up by Mr and Mrs Clinton.
“There is a history of the Clintons feeling they are above the law,” he said on CNN’s State of the Union programme.
a senator, Mrs Clinton voted for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 but
distanced herself from the way the war was waged, and called for US
troops to be withdrawn.
During her husband’s first term as
president, she campaigned for healthcare reform but her plan fell apart
and never made it to a vote in Congress.
She was also embroiled
in the some of the scandals which marred her husband’s presidency,
becoming the only US first lady to be called to testify before a grand
Mrs Clinton stood by her husband when he was exposed as having had an affair with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.
Unless the economy goes into a recession over the next year and
a half, Hillary Clinton is probably going to win the presidential
election. The United States has polarized into stable voting blocs, and
the Democratic bloc is a bit larger and growing at a faster rate.
Of course, not everybody who follows politics professionally
believes this. Many pundits feel the Democrats’ advantage in
presidential elections has disappeared, or never existed. “The 2016 campaign is starting on level ground,” argues David Brooks, echoing a similar analysis by John Judis.
But the evidence for this is quite slim, and a closer look suggests
instead that something serious would have to change in order to prevent a
Clinton victory. Here are the basic reasons why Clinton should be
considered a presumptive favorite:
1. The Emerging Democratic Majority is real. The major
disagreement over whether there is an “Emerging Democratic Majority” —
the thesis that argues that Democrats have built a presidential majority
that could only be defeated under unfavorable conditions — centers on
an interpretive disagreement over the 2014 elections. Proponents of this
theory dismiss the midterm elections as a problem of districting and
turnout; Democrats have trouble rousing their disproportionately young,
poor supporters to the polls in a non-presidential year, and the tilted
House and Senate map further compounded the GOP advantage.
Skeptics of the theory instead believe that the 2014 midterms were, as Judis put it, “not an isolated event but rather the latest manifestation of a resurgent Republican coalition.”
Voters, they argue, are moving toward the Republican Party, and may
continue to do so even during the next presidential election.
It has been difficult to mediate between the two theories,
since the outcome at the polls supports the theory of both the
proponents and the skeptics of the Emerging Democratic Majority theory
A Pew survey
released this week gives us the best answer. Pew is the gold standard
of political polling, using massive surveys, with high numbers of
respondents and very low margins of error. Pew’s survey shows pretty
clearly that there was not a major change in public opinion from the
time of Obama’s reelection through the 2014 midterms:
Of course, Pew is not surveying actual voters. It’s surveying
all adults. But that is the point. What changed between 2012 and 2014
was not public opinion, but who showed up to vote.
2. No, youngsters are not turning Republican. The
Emerging Democratic Majority thesis places a lot of weight on cohort
replacement: Republicans fare best with the oldest voters, and Democrats
with the youngest, so every new election cycle incrementally tilts the
electoral playing field toward the Democrats.
Skeptics have pushed back by claiming that the youngest voters —
the ones entering their voting years since 2008 — are turning back
toward the Republican Party. Their main evidence has been pollings of
millennial voters by the Harvard Institute of Politics. Conservatives
have given these results a great deal
of attention — it suggests that the youngest voters, disillusioned by
the Obama administration, have abandoned the liberal tendencies of their
older brothers and sisters. But Harvard’s polling has not held up well;
it predicted millennial voters would support a Republican Congress in 2014, which turned out to be extremely inaccurate.
Pew’s more recent survey combs through the data and throws more cold water on the “younger millennials” thesis. As Nate Cohn notices, younger millennials lean Democratic at nearly the same rate as older ones:
(Cohn does note that younger nonwhite millennials seem less
Democratic than older nonwhite millennials, but young whites are far
more Democratic than older ones, making the trade somewhat of a wash.)
3. Clinton isn’t that unpopular. A more recent line of thought has settled on Clinton’s limits as a candidate. It is probably true that she lacks Obama’s talents as a communicator and a campaign organizer. A recent Quinnipiac poll
showing her struggling in Iowa and Colorado attracted wide media
attention and seemed to confirm that the email scandal has tarnished
Clinton’s national image.
It is true that Clinton has, inevitably, lost much of the
popularity she won when she was serving as secretary of State and
largely removed from partisan politics. Nonpartisan figures can attract
broad support, while people engaged in political fights tend to revert
toward the mean. Clinton’s support is, as it has been through most of
her career, closely divided:
On the other hand, Republicans are much less popular. Jeb Bush,
who is probably the best known of the Republican contenders, has much worse favorable ratings:
So there is little reason to think Clinton’s personal
unpopularity will hold her back in a race against a Republican who is
likely to have no more personal appeal, and possibly a lot less.
4. Obama is trending up. One major question looming over
the next election is whether the public feels satisfied with the
Democrats’ policy direction or wants to give Republicans a chance.
Importantly, President Obama’s job approval ratings have recovered
since the midterm elections, when his net approval stood at minus ten,
to about minus three. His approval ratings on handling the economy have
risen even more sharply. Approval of Obama’s economic job performance
has actually reached parity with disapproval for the first time since 2009:
If the economy continues to expand between now and the 2016
election, Obama’s approval rating will probably rise a little higher. In
the modern political world, strong popularity is not necessary to win;
Obama won reelection with approval ratings below 50 percent. Voters make
comparative choices, and all a candidate needs is to be superior to the
alternative. But the economy is currently on a course, barring a
slowdown, to leave the incumbent party in a stronger position.
5. Is it time for a change? The one remaining
ground for Republican optimism is the possibility that voters will
decide three straight presidential terms for the Democratic Party is too
much. Many political scientists (such as Alan Abramowitz)
believe this exhaustion factor is real; after a second term, voters
grow increasingly restless with the in-party and are more likely to
decide it’s time for a change. If this is true, Clinton may face
headwinds even in an otherwise favorable landscape.
It may well be true. But there are reasons to doubt it. One
reason is that models that detect voter impatience are based on a very
small number of data points. Since World War II, there have been eight
presidential elections in which the incumbent party has held office for
two terms or more. It’s hard to draw definitive conclusions from such a
limited number of events.
A second reason is that nearly all of those elections took
place in a very different kind of party system. The 20th century was a
time of loose-knit parties with a great deal of ideological overlap.
There were liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats, which created
large constituencies to swing back and forth. Democrats won more than
60 percent of the vote in the 1964 election, and then Republicans did
the same eight years later. That made sense in a world where the two
parties seemed to share a lot of common assumptions. Voters who
supported Lyndon Johnson in 1964 weren’t crazy to switch to Richard
Nixon in 1972; Nixon had established the Environmental Protection Agency
and supported universal health care and a basic income.
The polarized electorate of today is a different place, and
voters may not act the same way as they used to. There are fewer swing
voters, and therefore conditions like a third straight term, or even a
severe recession, may not budge as many of them from their normal
partisan habits. We don’t know how deeply the partisan split has
hardened into place; each party seems to be able to count on the support
of at least 45 percent of the voters regardless of what is happening in
6. There’s no alternative. All of the above
brings us back to the central challenge facing Clinton. She cannot
promise her supporters a dramatic change or new possibilities; she is
personally too familiar, and the near certainty of at least one
Republican-controlled chamber of Congress suggests continued legislative
stalemate. Her worry is that ennui sets in among the base and yields a
small electorate more like the kind that shows up at the midterms, which
is an electorate Republicans can win.
The argument for Clinton in 2016 is that she is the candidate
of the only major American political party not run by lunatics. There is
only one choice for voters who want a president who accepts climate science and rejects voodoo economics, and whose domestic platform would not engineer the largest upward redistribution of resources
in American history. Even if the relatively sober Jeb Bush wins the
nomination, he will have to accommodate himself to his party’s
barking-mad consensus. She is non-crazy America’s choice by default. And
it is not necessarily an exciting choice, but it is an easy one, and a
proposition behind which she will probably command a majority.