Thursday, November 13, 2008

Two Election Post-Mortems on the Clintons

CBS News reports that if the presidential election were between Hillary Clinton and John McCain, Senator Clinton would have beaten Senator McCain by 11 pts, 4 more than the spread between President-Elect Obama and Senator McCain. In a completely unsurprising finding, Senator Clinton would have done better with older voters, white voters, and women voters.

As 538 notes, the hypothetical election should be taken with a grain of salt as Clinton did not campaign and the Republicans did not campaign against her. While Clinton would have done very well in the debates, would have done well during the economic crisis, would have done better in certain regions of the country (West Virginia, Arkansas), and would have won the election, there are a few problems with this analysis.

While Clinton would have won Ohio and Florida, maybe Arkansas, Clinton would not have expanded the map. Senator Clinton's campaign would not have developed an excellent ground-game as the Clinton team lacked basic skills in organization. We do not know how the personal attacks against Hillary, and Bill, would have altered the mood of the public. We do not know how the convention would have played out-- it certainly would not have been such a grand spectacle. She would not have handled the media well and the media would not have handled her well. However, even with these unknowns, conventional wisdom, for what its worth, would suggest that almost all Democrats would have one. Well, all but Kucinich.

While I find arguing these type of hypothetical is an exercise in futility, I find this story to be entertaining for a second reason. Tonight on Countdown, Olbermann reported that Senator Clinton is under consideration for Secretary of State. This seems odd since Senator Clinton is not known for her foreign policy experience (insert Sniper joke here), she may not be the right person to handle the bureaucracy of the State Department, and if she were to be considered for any cabinet position, a position that concerns domestic policy would be a better fit for her. However, she is a more appealing choice than Senator Kerry. Of course, the good Reverend John Todd or Kucinich would be a better choice than Sen. Kerry.

But why did the Clinton as Secretary of State story develop? A post-primary compromise? Maybe. Are there any other reasons? Maybe.

On Tuesday, Politico reported that there were still hard feelings between the Clintons and the Obamas, especially over the Obama camp not doing "enough" to retire the campaign dept Senator Clinton ran up when she chose not to exit the race even though she knew she would not win. I wonder if this information is a PR move to alleviate some of the tension between the camps and heighten the importance of Senator Clinton in the Senate.

Or, was the "under consideration" information made public to reduce tensions between the Obama camp and Women's groups over the potential selection of for Harvard President Larry Summers as Treasury Secretary? Politico suggests that identity politics trumped competence, again, and Summers may no longer be favored for the position. This makes sense because of Obama's rejection of any drama. Besides, identity groups should be happy that the Gov. of Arizona Janet Napolitano, who has a very good shot of being a US Senator when Senator McCain's tenure ends, is a favorite to be Attorney General.

As Rachel Maddow just said on her program: "I can imagine Senator Clinton being a Secretary of State. I cannot imagine Senator Clinton being Secretary of State under an Obama administration." It will be interesting to see how the wounds of the Democratic Primary may or may not heal. If the relations between the Clintons and Obama are not good, why is this under consideration?


harrogate said...

A lot to chew on. Harrogate wishes this stuff wasn;t being speculated on, but supposes it is inevitable. Whatever. Obama ran a hell of a campaign and is poised to do good. We will see if he and a friendly Congress can make it happen.

But re the Cabinet game. Harrogate would point out that Summers' bad rep goes a bit beyond identity politics. When you overtly codify a negative stereotype about women, you are hopefully going to piss off more than just women. Summers pissed off Harrogate as well, with that speech.

Hill as Sec State? Hmm. Not sure about that one. She'd probably do fine there, but the truth is that she could emerge as a real leader in the Senate. What is wrong with being a Great Senator, anyway? She could be that. And that would be good for the country.

M said...

Everything I've read from Hillary Clinton's camp suggests she won't take any positions, even if Obama offers them. I do agree this would be a huge mistake; she doesn't have the foreign policy experience to handle this. John Kerry or Sam Nunn are better choices. Here's hoping Obama doesn't make such a huge mistake right out of the box.