Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hillary's Polarization Problem

Amy Walter analyzes whether Hillary's polarizing personality means that she can't win next year should she be nominated. Walter compares Hillary Clinton, who she calls more of an incumbent than a "typical" open seat canddiate, against George W. Bush in 2003-2004.
In Sept. 2003, we saw a president still riding high. His overall approval rating was 52-percent positive and 38-percent negative. He had a net positive rating from independents (plus 8), 23 percent of Democrats viewed him favorably and only 9 percent of Republicans rated him negatively.

Compare that with where Clinton is today. She is viewed less favorably among independents (42-percent negative to 39-percent positive) and is liked by just 13 percent of Republicans. Among Democrats, 13 percent view her negatively.

OK, but let's say we compare her to where Bush was in '04 under the premise that she is as defined as she's ever going to get. Voters have already made up their minds about her and there's not much she can do to change that.

In October of '04, Bush had almost universal support from Republicans, even as he was disliked by nearly all Democrats. Independents gave Bush higher negative ratings (49-percent negative to 42-percent positive) than they do now for Clinton (42-percent negative to 39-percent positive). But Clinton doesn't enjoy that same level of support among Democrats that Bush had among Republicans. Seventy-two percent of Democrats view her favorably while Bush had almost unanimous positives from Republicans (96 percent).
In an attempt to be ojective about Sen. Clinton, she and her campaign have worked very hard to generate an air of inevitability about her campaign for the Democratic nod. To a certain extent, the "Clinton machine" is driving that success, but recent problems on teh fundraising front and her appointment of convicted national secrets thief Sandy Berger to her campaign team has people, including Democrats, wondering if she can overcome her polarization gap.

The fact is that while a lot of people might be willing to jump on the Hillary bandwagon, there are still more than a few Democrats who would like to see someone else, anyone else, carrying the Democratic banner in 2008.

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