Tag Archives: Hillary Clinton

No, Hillary is Not the “Weakest Democratic Nominee”

Can we please dispense with the horsepucky même that Hillary Clinton is theweakest Democratic nominee” and Donald Trump is theonlyRepublican that Clinton could beat?

Hillary Clinton and, for that matter, the Democratic Party have strengths that would come into play against any Republican candidate. Any Republican who thinks that their party’s weaknesses end with Trump is in denial. But today I focus on Clinton.

You Cannot Knock this Woman Down.

When Hillary Clinton ran for the Senate in 2000, she endured endless brutal direct questioning about the Monica Lewinsky scandal and her marriage. For a time, she trailed Republican Rick Lazio in the polls. Anyone who came through that is not going to be knocked down by the likes of her blowhard opponent.

Hard Working and Knowledgeable

During the 2000 campaign, Clinton visited town after town in upstate New York. Her understanding of not just the general problems of the region but of specific issues in each town surprised people, as did her sustained interest. Clinton did far better than usual by Democrats there.

Recent Deft Political Moves

So much criticism has surrounded Hillary Clinton that it is easy to miss some of her best political moves. In particular, she has somehow managed to reach out to the left of her party and the center of the electorate simultaneously–gymnastic skills unlikely to be seen at the upcoming Olympiad.

Handling Sanders

Clinton’s handling of Sanders showed who is the shrewd deal maker in this election. Facing unremitting intense criticism from hardline Bernie supporters and Bernie’s own reluctance to endorse her, Clinton kept her cool and didn’t look petulant or lash out.

Instead, she worked hard to bring Bernie Sanders and his supporters into the tent. Behind the scenes, she courted Sanders and their key staffers built a strong relationship. Her major concessions on the platform were either changes that the electorate will like–raising the minimum wage–or do not necessarily care about or understand very well–single payer health care.

While a statement of party principles and policy, the platform now serves mainly as a potential source of embarrassment for nominees. John McCain disowned the GOP platform in 2008. In the end, platforms don’t matter much when they meet the political reality of passing legislation. Anyone remember either the Clinton or the Obama healthcare plans from 2008?

Picking Kaine

Clinton named Kaine as her veep nominee, despite intense pressure to choose someone who was either more left wing, African American, Latino, or a woman. But Kaine’s excellent roll out mostly overrode those objections.

Smart and strong. Candidates look more presidential when they don’t cave and when they make a good decision. Most critically, Kaine is ready to step into the presidency if necessary–the key qualification for a vice president and voters know it. Purist grumbling aside, Kaine is a solid liberal.

Politically, Clinton needs to motivate African American, Asian American and Latino voters but she didn’t need a veep choice to do it. The Obamas are all in for Clinton–a big help among African Americans. No one doubts that Trump will stimulate members of three groups to vote.

The swing vote is largely about whites this year. Like Biden, Kaine helps here. Every time another reporter calls Kaine the “dad jeans” of politics, I’m sure somewhere Clinton is smiling. It’s a direct pitch to the swingy suburbanite vote. Kaine also has extremely strong ties to the African-American and Latino communities in his state.

Staying Out of the Way

One of the cardinal rules of politics is to stay out of way when your opponent is in the process of destroying himself. Leaving aside the astonishingly bad idea of going on FOX with Chris Wallace, a seasoned reporter on a hostile network, Clinton has not dominated or tried to dominate the news cycle over the past few days, allowing Trump to implode with some nice assists from the Khan family, a crying baby and himself.

Organized and Decisive

The Democratic Convention was a well-organized affair that provided a nice reintroduction to Clinton and the Democrats. When the Wasserman Schultz scandal broke, the campaign dealt with it decisively so it didn’t dominate the media for days like Melania Trump’s speech. Smart.

Clinton is also not taking voter turnout for granted. Along with a variety of organizations, the campaign is working hard to do the less flashy job of turning out the core Democratic vote, especially among African Americans and Latinos.

Making a Weakness a Strength

Hillary Clinton is not a great speaker. Maybe it results from gender bias but I can’t help but notice that Michelle Obama gave a speech for the ages at the same convention. Even if it is unfair, it just is and complaining looks whiny (see Trump at any given moment).

I loved how Clinton turned it around and made the case that having a grind as president might not be the worst thing in the world when it’s time to make decisions even if eloquence is not her strength. She drew a useful contrast with her domineering opponent.

Women win executive posts at low rates precisely because they are unfairly stereotyped as people who are fair and handle process well but are not leaders. Yet Clinton managed to communicate that she cares more without looking less commanding in spite of her flat style.

Put another way, Clinton presented herself as calm and caring but Trump as an overly emotional bully. No mean feat for the author of “It Takes a Village” to turn the tables on the “author” of “The Art of the Deal.”


Yup, Republicans can keep believing that they would win if only they had nominated someone else. That bit of denial would be a fine start toward giving Hillary Clinton a second term.


The State of Play Before Primary Night I

The Presidential

Maryland was made for Hillary Clinton. She has done very well among African-American voters, who form 30% of the State’s population and will comprise a higher share of Democratic primary voters. The exit polls from 2008 indicated that women composed a staggering 62% of the primary vote, another good demographic for Clinton this year.

Finally, Bernie Sanders is running as an anti-establishment candidate in a State where many primary voters literally live inside the Beltway. While the Obama campaign swept many of these same areas in 2008, there is no remotely parallel wave for Bernie Sanders.

On the Republican side, I suspect Trump will have a good night. Class dynamics are unusually inverted in Maryland with many upper class Democrats and working class Republicans, who have provided the backbone for Trump’s support elsewhere.  Will Gov. Larry Hogan end up having to explain whether he’ll support Trump to the same Republican coalition that elected him?

The U.S. Senate

In Maryland, the presidential primary has ceded marquee status to the hard fought battle between Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen. It has become a battle between the uncompromising progressive and the person who gets progressive results.

EMILY’s List upped the octane in this race by dumping millions on the side of Edwards, providing the bulk of her campaign funding. No doubt this has been a unpleasant surprise for Van Hollen, who likely expected to dominate due to his fundraising prowess and has enjoyed strong support from women’s groups in the past.

Lately, however, these advertisements have become a mixed blessing, as bizarre attempts to characterize Van Hollen as opposed to gun control or campaign finance provoked a backlash from the White House and critics. See Jonathan Shurberg’s excellent summary.

Edwards has been hoping that her compelling personal story, ability to bring some diversity to the Senate, and strong progressive credentials will help her unite progressive white and African-American voters into a winning coalition.

However, after months of a tight race, polls indicate that Van Hollen is pulling ahead but the voters will have the ultimate say tonight. If he does become the Democratic senatorial nominee, commenters will likely point to several factors.

First, I don’t think Edwards has convinced voters that she is more progressive than Van Hollen in any meaningful way. Van Hollen has also managed to sell the argument that he is not just progressive but accomplishes progressive goals more compellingly than Hillary Clinton in the presidential race.

Next, Edwards has not obtained support from key African-American officials, like County Executives Rushern Baker and Isiah Leggett. The silences from Rep. Elijah Cummings’ office and the Congressional Black Caucus are also deafening. Edwards has nonetheless done an impressive job uniting black support across the State, particularly in light of these gaps in her support base.

As she goes into the final stretch, Edwards has hammered home her personal story and that she would be only the second black woman in the Senate. No one could seriously argue against the desirability for more diversity in the Senate.

But the dominance of this argument risks reducing her campaign to only identity politics. It needs leavening with other elements to sustain substantial cross-racial appeal even though the Black Lives Matter movement gives it a natural energy that could still make this a close race tonight.

I know too little about the Republican race to comment.


Clinton Campaign Hires Latino Decisions for Polling

This is a smart decision by the Clinton campaign. Latino Decisions is the gold standard for polling Latinos, whose support will be critical if she hopes to secure the Democratic nomination and the Presidency.

The following is by Stephen A. Nuño:

The Hillary Clinton presidential campaign has hired Latino-owned firm Latino Decisions to join the campaign’s polling team, sources told NBC News Latino Wednesday.

The hiring of Latino Decisions brings aboard significant knowledge to the campaign about Latino voters that will continue to build up the outreach efforts of the Clinton campaign into the Latino community.

The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to emails and a call about the hiring.

The Clinton campaign has gone on an unprecedented hiring spree of Latino outreach specialists, such as Amanda Renteria, their National Political Director, and Lorella Praeli, the campaign’s Latino Outreach Director.

The firm’s co-Principles, Matt Barreto and Gary Segura, bring with them a significant amount of academic heft to their polling operation. Barreto is a professor of political science and Chicano Studies at UCLA and Segura is a professor of political science at Stanford University.

Michael Jones-Correa, a professor of political science at Cornell, welcomed the news about Latino Decisions as a step forward for the Clinton team.

“LD provides essential policy relevant public opinion on Latinos in the US today, reflecting the very highest standards and best practices in the public opinion field,” said Jones-Correa.

The addition of a Latino-owned firm to the campaign comes after findings in a study by PowerPAC+ reported by NBC News which highlighted the significantly small number of minority firms hired by Democrats to work on their campaigns as paid consultants. Even though the vast majority of Latinos and African Americans vote for Democrats, about 98 percent of of the $514 million spent by the three national Democratic Party committees in 2012 went to non-minority consultants.

Much of the advocacy work by Latino Decisions has been with groups with deep ties within the Latino community, such as America’s Voice and National Council of La Raza.

Frank Sharry, founder and executive director of America’s Voice, has praised the work of Barreto and Segura.

“Latino Decisions has developed a methodologically-sound, data-driven approach to polling Latino voters. Given that the road to the White House cuts through the Latino community, the Clinton campaign is fortunate – and smart – to have them on board,” said Sharry.