Jay Reding.com

Are The Democrats Getting The Electability Question Wrong?

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.

Penn argues:

[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.

3 responses to “Are The Democrats Getting The Electability Question Wrong?”

  1. adb67 says:

    And remembver that Mark Penn is a shill for Hillary…

  2. Mark says:

    “Are The Democrats Getting The Electability Question Wrong?”

    They got it wrong six weeks ago when they flippantly tossed their electable candidates onto the ashbin of the 2008 campaign and left us with fatally flawed “superstars”.

    “The GOP will not be able to increase her negatives in a way they can with an untested candidate.”

    Her negatives are near or at 50%. They don’t need to raise them any higher. Every time Hillary’s shrill campaign voice scratches out a rally cry, her negatives go higher without any need for Republican assistance.

    “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.”

    Hillary’s support represents the Kerry coalition while Obama steals voters from the ranks of the independents. We know the first coalition loses elections without additional support, and it seems incredibly unlikely that Hillary is capable of building upon the Kerry base. With that said, Obama’s a fool to assume “he can get Hillary’s supporters”. Judging from the horrific numbers he’s scoring from older nonblacks and in the rural nonblack south (TN,OK), he has some serious vulnerabilities as a candidate even if he pitches a perfect game….and could very well generate downballot countercoattails every bit as devastating as most think Hillary would.

    “The Democrats are betting that Obama can pull it off—but that bet may not be nearly as solid as they would think.”

    They won’t be. THere will be tons of “Yellow Dog Democrats” in Middle America (mostly middle-aged to elderly) who won’t vote for Obama, and not necessarily just because of his race.

  3. Mr. D says:

    We’ll have to see what happens, but my guess is, if trends persist, ’round about July you are going to see a lot of buyer’s remorse on the port side.