July 05, 2009
A nostalgic look at alternate losing strategies
Adam Graham takes issue with a number of popular political myths (notably the idea that Sarah Palin is finished), but what really got my attention was an exit poll he linked that I'd never seen before, which confirms my longstanding belief that Hillary Clinton would have been a much tougher candidate for the Republicans to beat than Barack Obama. I think she still would be, even today.
What I could not understand was why so many Republicans supported Hillary Clinton anyway, and I suspected that they realized something I did not: that Republican defeat was certain (maybe even desirable), and that getting Hillary on the ticket was a form of damage control.
Or was it?
Anyway, here are the poll numbers that intrigued me:
...16 percent of McCain voters said they would have voted for Clinton, the Democrat, if she had been her party's nominee.That's a lot of people -- certainly enough to have made McCain's defeat one of the biggest defeats in Republican history.
But what about disappointed Obama supporters? Would they have voted for Hillary?
While 85% of Obama voters said they would have voted for Clinton had she been the Democratic candidate, 13% would not have supported her including 6% who said they would have backed McCain and 7% who said they would not have voted.So, Hillary would have gained for the Democrats 16% of the McCain voters (that's 9,334,987 out of McCain's 58,343,671), and she would have lost 13% of the Obama voters (that's 8,694,690 of Obama's 66,882,230).
Adding in the 6% of the disappointed Obama voters and subtracting the rest who'd have stayed home, here are the final results:
Clinton: (66,882,230 + 9,334,987 - 8,694,690)
The new vote total would be 120,544,145 (down from 125,225,901) with Hillary's percentage being 56%, and McCain 44% (a more dramatic difference than Obama's 53% to McCain's 46%).
What irritated me about the pro-Hillary Republican strategy was that I've been around long enough to know that Hillary Clinton would have been harder for McCain to beat than Obama, yet Republicans who damned well knew better kept saying that Hillary would be easier to beat! I suspected they were lying, because they didn't want to admit that the Republicans were doomed no matter what, so supporting Hillary was their way of trying to ameliorate a bad situation by picking the opposition. If they really thought that, why not come out and admit it? Why lie? These same people are not saying now that McCain could have beaten Hillary. Most of them are glad he lost; they just wish he'd lost to someone else.
Of course, the above poll does not take into account the hard core conservatives (Ann Coulter and the like) who would have demonstrated their hard coreness by voted for Hillary Clinton over John McCain. How many of them there were, I don't know, but the whole approach struck me as a wildly extravagant tantrum at the expense of the country.
Speaking of polls, what about Clinton versus Palin? According to a Rasmussen poll taken in September, Hillary was preferred by voters overall, but that could change. Plus, there was a gender gap:
In a head-to-head match-up, [men] prefer Sarah Palin over Clinton 49% to 45% according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Women prefer the former first lady over Palin 57% to 35%.In a hypothetical matchup even now (were such a thing possible), I think Hillary would do better against Sarah Palin than would Barack Obama.
But it has to be borne in mind that there's quite a bit of time between now and 2012, and Barack Obama will do whatever he has to do to ensure his reelection.
Too bad we can't bring back the ideologically easy days when "conservative" simply meant those who supported the war.
But the 2008 election was not about war. Or sex. So, Glenn Reynolds' tried and true adage didn't really come into play:
When the topic is defense, the Democrats lose. When it's sex, the Republicans lose.For years I assumed the 2008 race was going to be about defense, and the war in Iraq, and right now I'm assuming the 2012 race will be about the economy. This time, the economic issue helped the Democrats mostly because of the incumbency factor. But if they continue to make things worse, the incumbency factor will work against them.
But even if the economy were to pick up, things could change overnight with an international flareup, or a single nuclear bomb (even an Iranian test). If a real war breaks out, God help the Democrats.
And of course, if the war on sex heats up, God help the Republicans. So I can understand why the Democrats would want to do anything they possibly could to make Sarah Palin into some sort of crusading anti-sex warrior (which she is not). So what's with some of the conservatives, anyway? Do they think the war against sex is winnable?
MORE: Writing in the New York Post, Bill Quick looks at Sarah Palin as a presidential candidate, and sees Hillary as an opponent:
If Palin is successful, look for Clinton to resign in preparation for her own presidental bid as "the only Democrat who has a chance to beat Governor Palin."(Via Glenn Reynolds.)
posted by Eric on 07.05.09 at 10:56 AM
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