Democratic pollster Mark Penn makes the case that Hillary Clinton is more electable than Barack Obama. Despite all the Obama hype, his analysis may very well be right. The dynamics of this cycle seem to be a reversal of 2004—the Democrats gave up their candidate of passion (Howard Dean) and settled for the guy that they thought could best win (John Kerry). Now, they’re doing the exact opposite, voting for the candidate they feel passionate about but also the candidate with the least experience and the most unknowns. While that’s not a foolish choice, it may still be the wrong one.
[Hillary] has outperformed at the ballot box throughout her career. She will neutralize the argument on national security so the election will turn on her ability to manage our economy and reform healthcare. The GOP will not be able to increase her negatives in a way they can with an untested candidate. And Hillary’s core voters – working class, women, Latinos, Catholics – are exactly the voters that comprise the key swing voters the party has needed in the past to win.
Remember that analysis if Obama wins the primary. Obama’s appeal is with the new Democratic base—but the new Democratic base is frequently at odds with the old working-class Democratic base. If Obama wins, and it’s looking like he’s got the momentum now, the result could well be a Democratic Party that’s just as split as if Clinton wins. The new Democratic base of urban liberals and minority voters have drunk the Obama Kool-Aid, but Obama can’t win unless he truly broadens his appeal—and the big question is whether his platitudes can take him over the top. The Democrats are betting that Obama can pull it off—but that bet may not be nearly as solid as they would think.
UPDATE: As a commenter rightly points out, Mr. Penn is Clinton’s pollster, so his comments should be taken with a grain of salt. Even though he’s a biased party, there still seems to be some real substance to his analysis.