Let’s Talk About Hillary Clinton’s Electability

Sanders and Clinton

In spite of my earlier call to arms, I keep seeing sniveling weenies all over social media warning that we must vote for Hillary Clinton or face a Trump or Cruz presidency. Because only Hillary Clinton could win that general election against a broken Republican machine and an extremist who is favored by, it says in an article, fewer than 15 percent of all registered voters.

That’s right, folks. Even Trump supporters are a fraction of a fraction of a fraction. Only 23 percent of all registered voters are Republican. If you add independents who probably lean Republican you’re up to maybe 39 percent. Of those, about 33 percent support Trump. And that tells us … well, you work it out. I can’t do math.

See also Nate Silver, Donald Trump Is Really Unpopular With General Election Voters.

But against this alleged behemoth, we are told, only Hillary Clinton can prevail. So we must nominate her whether we like her or not.

Seriously?

Hillary Clinton has won two general elections in her life, both for senator of New York. Let’s look.

In 2000, she won against a largely unknown congressman named Rick Lazio. But originally her opponent was Rudy Giuliani. It was a close race; the polls swung back and forth, favoring one and then the other. Let it be added that Giuliani was not exactly beloved in New York City at that time; people were pretty much over him. But then in May 2000 Giuliani dropped out, mostly because of marital scandals that had been an open secret for some time. Five months before election day the Republicans chose the 40-something Lazio to take his place. (Why Lazio I do not remember; perhaps no one else was available.)

Lazio ran a flat-footed campaign, and Clinton defeated him fairly easily, 55 to 43 percent. He left the House after 2001 and at some point went to work for JP Morgan Chase.

In 2006 Hillary Clinton ran for re-election nearly unopposed. Oh, she had an opponent, a former mayor of Yonkers named John Spencer.  Spencer was invisible. I lived in New York and couldn’t have told you a Republican was running against her. Clinton raised nearly $36 million for her re-election campaign. Spencer had less than $6 million.  The New York Times wrote of that race,

Hillary Clinton is running in a phantom race for the Senate, pitted against an unknown, unqualified opponent. In the unlikely event that New Yorkers ever learn what John Spencer’s views are, most would find them far too conservative. It’s a measure of the haplessness of Mr. Spencer’s campaign that the Republican nominee has been dogged by rumors that his real aim is to prepare the ground for an attempt to regain his old job as mayor of Yonkers.

Further, in 2006 the Republican Party in New York was in meltdown. In the 2006 elections, the Democrats came very close to sweeping every state race. Any Democrat could have defeated Spencer without breaking a sweat.  Why spend $36 million? About $10 million of her $36 million war chest was saved for her 2008 presidential bid, I believe, but why spend even $26 million? To run up the numbers?

Here is an intriguing bit about that election, from Larry Sabato:

It was not so long ago that the GOP ruled the roost in New York, led by politicians such as Nelson Rockefeller and Jacob Javits. But over the last decade or two, it has become about as reliably Democratic as any state in the country. Republicans have not carried New York in presidential voting since 1984, have not captured a Senate seat since 1992, and since 2000 have seen their number of House seats dwindle across the state from 12 to six. To boot, the Democratic registration advantage, which was barely 1 million voters two decades ago, had swelled to more than 2.3 million by early this year. In short, New York is now a state where any credible Democrat runs with a stiff wind at his or her back.

As such, the more intriguing comparison is not Clinton against her Republican rivals, but Hillary as measured against the vote-getting performances of her Democratic ticketmates. And in 2000 and 2006, she trailed the top of the party’s ticket in New York each time. In 2000, Democratic presidential standard-bearer Al Gore took 60 percent of the statewide vote, while Clinton drew 55 percent. In 2006, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer polled 70 percent, while Clinton garnered 67 percent. And Spitzer, the state’s hard-charging attorney general at the time, was running an open-seat race to succeed retiring Republican Gov. George Pataki, while Clinton had the advantage of incumbency in seeking reelection.

In order to get those results, she had to massively out-spend the invisible John Spencer. And, of course, after Hillary Clinton blew a huge advantage in the 2008 primaries and lost to Barack Obama, she was appointed Secretary of State. So 2006 was her last winning election.

As we have seen in her presidential bids, she can be to campaigning what Pat Boone was to rock. She’s not the natural politician her husband is. She can be very good sometimes; she can be appallingly tone deaf sometimes (Henry Kissinger? Seriously?).

But if her entire sales pitch is based on her alleged invincibility as a political candidate, we may want to re-think this.

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12 Comments

  1. JMG  •  Feb 17, 2016 @8:49 pm

    No political candidate is invincible and I don’t think Clinton’ supporter have made that claim. I’d argue that the proposition Clinton is less vincible than Sanders rests on sound ground.

  2. maha  •  Feb 17, 2016 @8:58 pm

    JMG: We’ll see, but I also think the proposition that if Clinton get the nomination it will be the last hoo-rah of the Democratic Party rests on solid ground. It will also blow the only possible chance of meaningful reform we’re likely to have in most of our lifetimes.

  3. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 17, 2016 @9:10 pm

    Oy…
    Just…
    Oy…
    I’m tired…

    I think I’ll take a break for a bit, folks…

  4. MilitantlyAardvark  •  Feb 17, 2016 @10:26 pm

    I’d also like to read into the record the fact that Clinton got very lucky when Lazio made a move towards Clinton during their first debate, which was intended as a dramatic gesture pressuring her to sign a campaign finance pledge, but came across as creepy and over-aggressive. That certainly helped to swing what was not a clear-cut race up to that point. If anything, Lazio probably had an advantage – and Clinton certainly had not won over women voters in anything like impressive numbers.

    I find myself thinking that Clinton has learned nothing about how to organize a campaign or win over voters since 2008 – and she needs to be very careful with this attack on Sanders as anti-Obama, because a lot of voters will remember some of the dumber or more crass things she and her husband said back then.

    I also very much fear that the Democrats will nominate Clinton out of nostalgia and a desire to play it safe – and then discover just how unimpressive she really is as a campaigner on the national stage against a Republican party reaching ever deeper into the fever swamp to terrify its base.

  5. uncledad  •  Feb 18, 2016 @8:52 am

    “But if her entire sales pitch is based on her alleged invincibility as a political candidate, we may want to re-think this”

    Right, well as your post points out invincibility is not a trait we should be applying to Hillary? I keep hearing how the right will skewer Bernie on the whole socialist thing so we have to go with Hill? Well yes they will and it will be ugly, but be sure they will skewer Hillary on Benghazi, emails, her (not that outstanding) term as secretary of state, all of Bill’s past transgressions, etc. Bottom line is it’s gonna be a rough road for whoever gets the nod, the wing-nuts are desperate to get the white-house back, and based on the clowns they seem poised to nominate (pick one) their only road to victory will be the low one.

  6. Swami  •  Feb 18, 2016 @12:24 pm

    What does it mean when a person prefaces an answer to a question with the statement of, “Well, to be honest”. Is it preparing you for a lie?
    I was rewatching the video of Hillary at a town hall meeting hosted by CNN with Anderson Cooper. Anderson asked her about her speaking fees, specifically about the six hundred and some odd thousand she received from Goldman Sachs. He further asked if she understood how the perceptions of receiving that money could cast her in a light as being seen in the pocket of Wall Street interests.
    She replied by saying, “Well, to be honest”. She didn’t think she was going to run for President. But somebody had to step up to defend the gains that Obama made.
    The reluctant warrior? I don’t think so. I have a sense of the Ann Romney sentiment..It’s my turn now.

  7. maha  •  Feb 18, 2016 @4:36 pm

    Of course she knew she was going to run for president.

  8. Swami  •  Feb 18, 2016 @5:40 pm

    Well, not to come off as a moralising biblehead, but the scriptures do clearly say..If you can’t be trusted in little things, you can’t be trusted in big things.

  9. bernie brull  •  Feb 19, 2016 @6:06 pm

    I can do math. Twenty Three Percent 23% is (even to Bill Clinton) equals .23. When the tRump gets 30% in a closed primary (the independents and crossovers cannot vote) that is .3 times .23. From that point all have the ability to punch that in on their calculator and it is a tiny fraction of the population. When they say it on TV they do not say it that way. They are not usually good at math either. Hope I have been of some help.

  10. Swami  •  Feb 19, 2016 @7:10 pm

    Let’s see what tomorrow brings..I’m seeing a lot of comments in public forums that aren’t exactly lavishing praise on Hillary. Some of them are quite negative but do connect with some of my concerns. I’m wondering if my concerns have developed as a result of listening to negative comments or whether the negative comments are a confirmation of my own original concerns.
    Anyway, tomorrow the light should be brighter.

  11. Swami  •  Feb 20, 2016 @6:01 pm

    What’s a DNR order? I just heard that Jeb’s big money donors issued a DNR order after seeing his Nevada/ South Carolina results. What does that mean?

  12. maha  •  Feb 20, 2016 @11:07 pm

    DNR = Do Not Resuscitate.

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