On Electability

If there’s one thing Democrats shouldn’t judge candidates on its ‘electability’, since Democrats are historically awful at this. That said, a few weeks ago, Lance Mannion and I got into an argument about whether Clinton is the political juggernaut her supporters claim she is. My take on her electoral success in New York was very different than Mannion’s, but time does fuzzy up one’s memories. Thankfully, maha reminds us of how Clinton really did in New York (boldface mine):

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….

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?

It’s worth noting that Clinton in 2000 did worse than Al Gore did in New York. And in 2006, with all the advantages of incumbency, she did worse than Elliot Spitzer who ran in an open election. This might mean something:

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?).

We need to avoid making up stories about invincibility in the general election for either candidate. There are some clay feet here.

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3 Responses to On Electability

  1. Netizen Denizen says:

    Also don’t forget that if she ends up in a close race, it will be due to a random 3rd party nobody and not because people are uninspired by her message, or the various other ACTUAL reasons people will not turn out for Hillary.

  2. Jay says:

    Exactly. Part of the reason Hillary lost in 2008 is because she ran on a platform of experience when what the electorate wanted was change. Well, guess what the electorate wants again?

    The electability straw man simply doesn’t help when there’s no guarantee Hillary will win. Vote on who you think is the better candidate and let the rest sort itself out. And right now, Bernie is far and away the better candidate on the issues and his presence is pushing Hillary to the left (thank god). I’m not voting for someone because of the perceived notion they’re more electable. John Kerry can tell you how foolish that is.

    Honestly, I see Bernie and Hillary eventually being running mates, whoever wins the primary. She’s going to need the enthusiasm of his young followers. And that will be an overall strong ticket against whatever clown the GOP nominates (but especially against Trump).

  3. coloncancercommunity says:

    The myth of Hillary’s electability has become urban legend…emphasis on “legend”. She stirs about as much enthusiasm among the electorate as someone like Elmer Fudd.

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