Few things could be worse for the Democratic Party than nominating Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2008. While she would energize the Republican base, she doesn't excite the Democratic base -- in fact many grassroots Democrats despise her DLC approach. She is the worst case, a huge risk for very little potential game in terms of policy and a complete disaster for Democrats running in down-ticket races.
Luckily, the Montana senate race is the best example of a 2006 primary when it comes to predicting the dynamics in 2008. In Montana, progressives re-defined the definition of 'electability' to focus upon contrast -- overcoming a two decade trend of the DLC version that is GOP-lite.
Likely Democratic Party primary voters in New Hampshire are now doing the same thing:
ANCHESTER, N.H. - Dick Bennett has been polling New Hampshire voters for 30 years. And he's never seen anything like it.Indeed. Although the picture isn't even rosy in New York:
"Lying b**** . . . shrew . . . Machiavellian . . . evil, power-mad witch . . . the ultimate self-serving politician."
No prizes for guessing which presidential front-runner drew these remarks in focus groups.
But these weren't Republicans talking about Hillary Clinton. They weren't even independents.
These were ordinary, grass-roots Democrats. People who identified themselves as "likely" voters in the pivotal state's Democratic primary. And, behind closed doors, this is what nearly half of them are saying.
"I was amazed," says Bennett. "I thought there might be some negatives, but I didn't know it would be as strong as this. It's stunning, the similarities between the Republicans and the Democrats, the comments they have about her."
Bennett runs American Research Group Inc., a highly regarded, independent polling company based in Manchester, N.H. He's been conducting voter surveys there since 1976. The polls are financed by subscribers and corporate sponsors.
He has so far recruited 410 likely voters in the 2008 Democratic primary, and sat down with them privately in small groups to find out what they really think about the candidates and the issues.
His conclusion? "Forty-five percent of the Democrats are just as negative about her as Republicans are. More Republicans dislike her, but the Democrats dislike her in the same way."
Hillary's growing brain trust in the party's upper reaches already knows she has high "negatives" among ordinary Democrats. They think she can win those voters over with the right strategy and message.
But they should get out of D.C., New York and L.A. more often, and visit grassroots members.
Taking back the Democratic Party from the DLC will have even more support in 2008 than Joe Lieberman is facing in Connecticut.
So there was Hillary Rodham Clinton grandstanding for the television cameras last week, giving Donald Rumsfeld a carefully scripted chewing out for his role in the Bush administration's lunatic war in Iraq.
Casual viewers could have been forgiven for not realizing that Senator Clinton has long been a supporter of this war, and that even now, with the number of pointless American deaths moving toward 2,600, her primary goal apparently is not to find an end game, but to figure out the most expedient political position to adopt -- the one that will do the least damage to her presidential ambitions.
Mrs. Clinton is trying to have it both ways. A couple of months ago, she told a gathering in Washington: "I do not think it is a smart strategy either for the president to continue with his open-ended commitment, which I think does not put enough pressure on the new Iraqi government." She then added, "Nor do I think it is smart strategy to set a date certain."
Slick Willie has morphed into Slick Hilly, as the carnival of death in Iraq goes on.
I hope the rumors (this link should have gone to the comments of that post) are true that Hillary is going to campaign in Stamford for Lieberman tonight, because that one action will make it far easier to let people know where she stands. Like Joe Lieberman six months ago, Hillary's standing in the polls is deceptively high and not very deep. The more people learn about her, the more they hate her -- which is the exact opposite of what we need in 2008.
UPDATE: Since CTBlog has sent a link back around, I just want to clarify that I should have said there is speculation that HRC is the last-minute guest at the rumored Stamford event. However, now that I've re-opened this thread I just want to take a minute to talk about last minute visits from sparklies.
In 2003, I was working for Gavin Newsom's mayoral campaign and we had an election-eve visit from Bill Clinton. To be perfectly honest, it was a real pain in the ass. In addition to the Big Dog arriving very late, the campaign staff spent a lot of time building a crowd, coordinating press, managing the lights and sound, dealing with security -- in short, everything but keeping the focus on GOTV. It was almost midnight by the time everyone left the building and we could finish the huge effort needed to have the lists and door-hangers ready for a GOTV effort that was planned to begin at 4AM. Newsom won due to an excellent absentee program that had enough votes in the hopper prior to Clinton's visit that it didn't matter when we lost among the people who voted on election day.
If you look at the pictures of the Stamford building in question, you'll see a bunch of people standing around and not turning out the vote. Hopefully, Lamont supporters are doing the exact opposite.
Speaking of GOTV and Stamford, last night I had dinner with long-time Lieberman supporter from Stamford who was planning to vote for Lamont -- but the mailman didn't deliver her absentee ballot before she left town. That is what Lamont supporters should be worried about today and tomorrow.
That said, I still hope it is Hillary because it is important for low-information voters to realize Hillary Clinton is just like Joe Lieberman.
UPDATE II: It looks like the hoopla is for John Boehner -- keep your eye on the ball or the ball will come back and attack you. Maybe Boehner will go on record about Lieberman since the Connecticut for Lieberman Party would help the GOP hold on to three congressional seats.