Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Who is More Electable?

Poll after poll shows that a significant majority of Democrats believe Hillary Clinton is the most electable Democrat running. For example, one recent poll showed 62% of Democrats thought Hillary was the most electable, with only about 14-15% giving the nod to Obama or Edwards. But wasn't the scuttlebutt on Hillary that she was just hated by too many people ever to be elected? What gives?

It seems unlikely that most Democrats are simply unaware of how many people hate Hillary: people have been going after her for years. My theory is that--after the swift-boating of Kerry--most Democrats have bitterly concluded that Republicans will demonize any candidate the Democrats throw out there, no matter who it is. I suspect most Democrats reluctantly conclude the general election will end up as a "50% plus one" slugfest, just like the last two. And so, precisely because she is viewed as such a tough old warhorse, Democrats believe Hillary is the one who best can take it.

If Obama or Edwards is to win the nomination, I believe they must convince their fellow Democrats that the next election can be different. Maybe the successes in 2006 will allow enough Democrats to believe it, just a little. Is hope really too audacious for Democrats these days? I think we will know by the end of Feburary 5th, if not sooner.


Raised By Republicans said...

Well, the poll numbers Dr. S. is talking about only asked Democrats. If the election were merely a question of which candidate the Democrats liked, then he'd be on to something. Unfortunately, the Republicans have something to say about it in a little less than a year.

I've stated why I think Clinton has the wrong character traits for us now. But now I'll just point out that Obama is ahead in Iowa and virtually tied with Clinton in South Carolina and New Hampshire. Demcorats are far from convinced on Clinton, in fact her support within the Democratic party seems to be slipping right now.

I suspect Dr. S's attraction to Hilary Clinton is that he thinks she's the most centrist candidate. If that is the case, I'd suggest that he take a closer look at Obama. He's actually a fairly solid centrist, interested in reaching out to independents etc.

Clinton on the other hand is the next thing to Satan as far as the Religious Right is concerned. If the Republicans are to have any chance at all, they need these people fired up in the late summer and fall of 2008. The only person capable of doing that is Hilary Clinton.

Dr. Strangelove said...

RbR's comment makes me wonder if I was unclear in my post. I was not expressing support for Hillary in my post. Let me try again.

What astonishes me is that most Democrats believe Hillary is the most electable candidate, even though they surely all know what RbR has repeated: that a whole lot of people (esp. the religious right) hate her passionately.

Why is this? I proposed one theory... Does anyone have a better one? (Hopefully there is a better answer than just "stupidity".)

The Law Talking Guy said...

Because the national head to head polls don't match up with the results that Dr.S. discusses, it is clear that the Dems being polled are not thinking in the same terms. I have the feeling that most Democrats when polled think "electable" means either "best known" or "most likely to win the Dem nomination" or just "the person everyone in the media's been talking about for so long as the frontrunner." This is also why the Iowa caucuses are so important. If the winner is not Clinton, then the winner suddenly rises in all those categories. John Kerry zoomed on that basis.

Dr. Strangelove said...

The national head-to-head polls I have seen show, on average, Clinton and Obama essentially tied against the major Republican candidates. (Edwards does measurably worse in some cases.)

Though slightly more nuanced, perhaps, LTG's explanation for Democratic beliefs about Hillary boils down to "stupidity."

Raised By Republicans said...

My mistake Dr. S. I thought you had said in an earlier post that you were a Clinton supporter. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

I think LTG's speculation about possible confusion among poll respondents is dead on. He is absolutely right to think that how respondents define the question in their heads can skew the results. It's really something political scientists concern themselves with in analyzing their own surveys (the ones they do for their professional publications, not the stuff the news media run).

I don't think the people responding to the polls are "stupid" if they have a variety of interpretations. An individual can be stupid "the people" are generally pretty smart.

Dr. Strangelove said...

RbR: your memory did not fail you! I am indeed a Clinton supporter. But that was not the sense or context of this post.