Monday, September 22, 2014

Romney 2012... er... Hillary 2016: The Weight of Inevitability - Part 2

In Part 1 I explained why I think Hillary is likely the 2016 Democratic Nominee for President, and why I think she could lose. Part 2 is dedicated to how I think the “Ready for Hillary” express picks up 270 electoral votes.

First, it's time to start doing the “I'm not in this administration and I don't agree with them” shuffle. Obama's numbers speak loudly, and the message is to stay away from him right now. Obama looks a lot like Dubbya did in 2007-2008. Old, worn out, and just sort of done. We know that's part of the Presidency, especially the looking old aspect, but the idea that the outgoing President is basically poison for the campaign trail may not be specific to these two, but instead a sort of "new normal" in American Presidential politics. Plus, anyone still openly in support of Obama is already likely to vote Hillary any way, so his upside is very limited.

Second, Hillary should begin vetting and prepping Missouri's Governor, Jay Nixon, to be her VP nominee. (I saw you roll your eyes.) I'm as serious as Al Gore giving a climate talk, but probably more accurate. So, let's answer the question: Why Jay Nixon?

It's all about that magical number of 270, and the method matters little compared to the results.

Why Nixon?
Missouri has 10 electoral votes (it was 11, Missouri lost people so it went down, for more on this and other electoral college issues, see my 2012 series) and since 2000 has gone from fairly purple to a deep crimson red. Yet, the major population centers routinely vote blue and only 20 years ago the state went for Clinton. In fact, until 2008 Missouri had voted for the winner in every Presidential election for a very long time, and was a leading bell weather state.

Jay Nixon is not wildly popular in Missouri, but he also isn't wildly unpopular either. His handling of the situation in Ferguson was less than inspiring, not Presidential, and sadly amateurish for such a seasoned politician. Yet, the conversation on Ferguson is an easy pivot to police brutality, police militarization, and racial profiling. It becomes more of a set up in a stump speech than a great attack point because in order for Republicans to attack Nixon on the topic they have to admit that the underlying action was at least questionable, and they will NOT want to do that. 

Nixon may not flip Missouri from red to blue, but he would force the Republicans to spend money and time in a State that got almost zero national attention in 2012 and not much more in 2008. Putting Missouri in play diverts money and time from states like New Mexico, Colorado, Virginia, and Ohio. Those are all states the GOP candidate would need (except maybe Colorado) to win in 2016, especially Ohio. 

Nixon isn't the only VP choice that can have this type of effect, but I do think he's the only one that genuinely puts a foregone conclusion type red state into the contested column. That's a powerful tool as a VP candidate. 

Nixon also adds to the political theater necessary to win the high office. Fair or not, Hillary will face additional scrutiny that a male candidate would not face. Nixon is a tall, farm boy type male and totally balances out the visual. Plus, some people will look to the man to lead, or step in and speak but Nixon just isn't that guy. Biden is. Bill Clinton is. Jay Nixon isn't. He'd be perfect at appearing Presidential while Hillary leads and sets the tone, while he simply backs her up like a good VP. Instead of "shouldn't HE just be the President" it becomes about how Nixon appears Presidential without usurping the candidate. It's very similar to how Biden interacted with Obama. 

I think of Nixon as the exact opposite pick as Palin. It's safe, won't shock any one, and he most likely won't feel the need to create his own party during the campaign. Plus, I'm fairly certain he can name a supreme court case, or even two. 

With or Without, 270 Is Probable
Here are the states I already put in Clinton's camp, regardless of VP pick (from West to East): Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, and D.C.

That's 261 electoral votes. I've left out Arkansas, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, New Mexico, and Virginia. Just by taking Ohio, Virginia, Missouri, or Indiana the race would be over. Plus, do I really have to explain why Arkansas is a toss up state for Hillary?

Notice what state I haven't even mentioned? Any body? Florida. The Republicans can win Florida by 10% and it won't matter. Which lessens Rubio's value for them, but that's for another day.

Nixon balances the ticket with a moderate, blue dog style Democrat from the midwest and puts a state in play that could, all by itself, win the election for Hillary. He probably wont' say anything great, but he's also less likely to pull a Biden and he's been constant on all women's issues which is important for Hillary to keep her main base excited. Plus, with the right handlers (any one but the people he has now basically) Nixon can be an asset, exactly the opposite of what Palin was in 2008. When I fill in the map of Hillary against any of the current Republican's in the field Christie has the best outcome and I predict him losing 313 to 225, even giving him New Jersey. It's a numbers game, and right now the edge goes to Hillary across the board.

I'm being less conservative with my predictions in 2016 than I was in 2012. I had Obama winning the whole time, but I predicted a much closer electoral map. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Romney 2012... er... Hillary 2016: The Weight of Inevitability – Part 1

“Hillary Clinton is in Iowa” is a phrase you will hear a lot until after the Democratic Primary. She'll be there several times after the Primary and before November of 2016. She just went there on her “book tour.” The book tour includes yard signs, campaign like volunteer units, and introductions from prominent politicians. It's as much a book tour as a McDonald's grilled chicken sandwich is healthy, so let's drop the charade and just openly acknowledge that Hillary is setting the stage. She's controlling the narrative by starting the narrative, like a very long and expensive game of telephone. What should the Democratic nominees talk about? Whatever Hillary's campaign leads with. It's smart. It's somewhat innovative. It's almost over and just about to begin. But what's the real purpose?

First and foremost, it probably is to sell books. Selling books makes money and money wins elections. (Just ask the Koch Bros.) It makes sense, but it's more than that. This book tour/campaign tour is as much about letting the other Democratic hopefuls know a lot of people declaring they are “Ready for Hillary” and Hillary is ready too as it is about selling the actual book. Infrastructure? Check. Money? Check. National conversation? Check. Catchy campaign slogan that supporters will love (and I mean love, not even “like, like”) and opponents will lampoon? Check. Experience? Check. Spouse that can stump on their own and drum up support? Double check. It's all there and Clinton wants to know: Any one wanna wrassle?

While that's all great for Hillary and her base, the real issue is if the broader Democratic Party is really so ready. Sure, Hillary is ready, and plenty of people are ready for Hillary, but does the Democratic Party actually care? Do they really want her to carry the torch in 2016? To me it's starting to feel exactly like the 2012 GOP primary with Romney. He started in front, and he finished in front, but along the way the party tried its damnedest to find someone else. (You all do still remember Herman Cain, right?) Hillary has a little more personality than Mitt (not hard to do) and her spouse is a much bigger plus than Ann was (again, not hard to do) but the rest feels the same.

2008 was Hillary's time, and her supports were all “Ready for Hillary” then. We all know what happened and the story of the Junior Senator from Illinois, the historic election, and the administration that started with Hillary as Secretary of State. It's a great job, especially for someone wanting to take a stab at the big job. But, as Uncle Ben (comics, not rice) told us: With great power comes great responsibility... and Benghazi. At least, I think that's what he said.

Thanks to Putin, ISIS (ISIL?), the ever evolving situation in Gaza, and an economy that (despite the GOP's best efforts to tell us otherwise) is doing fairly well, the 2016 election is probably going to be heavy on the foreign policy and security issues. Social issues will still matter but with US v. Windsor and the growing popularity for marijuana legalization those former wedge issues are becoming a little bit more like yesterday's news than todays election topics. Clinton's time as SOS will lend credibility to her as being capable as our international leader, but the broad cloth of experience will always have that one gaping hole of Benghazi right in the middle. The Democratic primary will include other candidates (John Kerry perhaps?) tugging at that cloth and expanding that hole, and if the seemingly inevitable happens the hole may be too big to mend. A strong Republican that can make a HUGE group of voters age 35-85 remember that Russia is the bad guy and we beat them with Reagan at the helm could create a narrative that leaves Clinton holding nothing more than a token Presidential nomination and a fading political career.

In Part 2 I'll explain what I think is Hillary's best road to 270.