Saturday, December 08, 2007

Clinton V Obama V Edwards

Ah yes, the Democratic primaries. In terms of policy, Edwards is my preferred candidate. Between Clinton and Obama, I'm not so sure. Obama is way, way, way better on foreign policy but his domestic policy positions - at least with regards to health care and social security - are not to great.

However, I have to confess, with the Republican candidate likely to be a religious fundamentalist or Rudy 'no really, I am more crazy than Bush on foreign policy' Giuliani, policy isn't the only thing influencing my choice. I want a Democrat who can win. Sure they won't be great once they get in, but at least they won't be actively coaxing our planet towards Armageddon.

I suspect that's what most Democrat voters want too. Which explains, perhaps, why they are currently looking most likely to select Hilary 'safe pair of hands' Clinton.

The crazy thing about this is that is - if polling is to be believed - she is actually much less likely to win:

While Clinton maintains her lead in national polling among Democrats, in direct matchups against Republican presidential candidates, she consistently runs behind both Barack Obama and John Edwards. In the recent national Zogby Poll (Nov. 26, 2007), every major Republican presidential candidate beats Clinton: McCain beats her 42 percent to 38 percent; Giuliani beats her 43 percent to 40 percent; Romney beats her 43 percent to 40 percent; Huckabee beats her 44 percent to 39 percent; and Thompson beats her 44 percent to 40 percent, despite the fact Thompson barely appears to be awake most of the time.

By contrast, Obama beats every major Republican candidate: He beats McCain 45 percent to 38 percent; Guiliani 46 percent to 41 percent; Romney 46 percent to 40 percent; Huckabee 46 percent to 40 percent; and, Thompson 47 percent to 40 percent. In other words, Obama consistently runs 8 to 11 percent stronger than Clinton when matched against Republicans. To state the obvious: The Democratic presidential candidate will have to run against a Republican.

Clinton's inherent weakness as a candidate shows up in other ways. In direct matchups for congressional seats, Democrats currently are running 10 percent to 15 percent ahead of Republicans, depending on the poll, while Clinton runs 3 percent to 7 percent behind -- a net deficit ranging from 13 to 22 percent. No candidate in presidential polling history ever has run so far behind his or her party.

To look at Clinton's candidacy another way, Clinton runs well behind generic polling for the presidency: In the NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted Nov. 1-5, 2007, voters were asked, "Putting aside for a moment the question of who each party's nominee might be, what is your preference for the outcome of the 2008 presidential election -- that a Democrat be elected president or that a Republican be elected president?" By 50 percent to 35 percent, voters chose "Democrat" -- a 15-point edge. Thus, Clinton is running 10 to 15 percent, or more, behind the generic Democratic candidate. This is not a promising metric nor the numbers of a strong candidate.


To be fair, it should be noted that not all polls find Clinton on the short end of polling disparities, and some have found her polling at parity, or sometimes even slightly ahead, of Republicans (generally, within the margin of polling error). But this should not obscure the main point: By every measure, Clinton's support runs well behind congressional Democrats, well behind generic Democrats and, generally, behind her Democratic presidential rivals in matchups with Republicans.

Message to Democrats: last election you chose safe, electable, foreign policy conservative John Kerry over a man who had a bit - and had a chance of eliciting a bit - of fire. Kerry was crap. He lost. Are you sure you want to repeat the same mistake?

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