Like the New England Patriots run for the Superbowl Hillary Clinton’s nomination was supposed to be a coordination and the house both were in betting terms sure things. With Texas now as a must-win state for Hillary the latest poll now show her trailing to Obama by 6 points. It’s never too early to start Monday morning quarterbacking how she lost her 20 point lead in the polls…
1 Supporting the Iraq War
With the Iraq war being the top issue for most democrats her early support of the war gave Obama a huge percentage of the democratic base to begin with. At the time her decision to support the president on Iraq was the smart political move but as the war dragged on her vote to authorize force seeded the high ground within the anti-war left to Obama. The irony is that many democrats wanted to impeach George Bush for waging the war, but ultimately Hillary’s early support for it may well have cost her the presidency.
2 Playing the Race Card
Hillary brought up race when it had not been a factor rather clumsily before the South Carolina primary. She went from support of over eighty percent to in the teens in less than two weeks. This and several other quotes including the infamous Obama is no Martin Luther King flap were unnecessary and cost her far more than just the black vote. In the court of public opinion this unseemly attack made her look like the bad guy willing to do anything to win.
Clinton told the church, "We gave people the freedom to succeed." Clinton said King would have said, "You did a good job . . . letting people . . . live wherever they want to live, go wherever they want to go . . . without regard to race, if you work hard and play by the rules."
3 Losing the Popularity Contest
Since the first televised presidential debate between John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon presidential contests have trended towards style over substance. Ultimately people make a gut decision between candidates and their feelings toward a candidates personality cannot be underestimated. Each time Hillary went negative and bragged about her experience Obama looked more likable. Ultimately she lacked her husband’s charm and ability to connect with people which is difficult to quantify. One poll showed that fifty-two percent of people also said that “she does not appear to connect with people on a personal level.”
4 Focusing on Her Experience
Hillary unlike Kerry did decide to unleash Bill Clinton, but seemed to have no coherent strategy about when to or how to use her biggest asset. Using a spouse to attack running mates didn’t work for Edwards and it made likable Bill seem anything but that. The unflattering way in which he was used only reminded voters of the worst of his presidency rather than focusing on the positives. Every time she uttered the word experience it re-enforced Obama’s message of change.
5 The Firewall Strategy
Her retreat strategy employed in various states that she had written off allowed Obama to gain the momentum. Losing by a few percent shows you were competitive and the race could have gone either way, blowouts of twenty or more points just look bad. Sitting back and relying on firewall states could prove to be disastrous. It didn’t work for Guliania and it could prove incredibly costly to Hillary. Sitting back in states like Ohio and Texas as her Maginot Line of bunkers left her on the defensive and didn’t work so well for the French in the second world war either.
6 Bad Management
Mark Penn has run the Hillary campaign with an unusual amount of control. Sources close to the former President say he and the candidate are talking constantly but sharing very little of what they’re discussing with subordinates. With unlimited funds maybe she could have hired now the unemployed Karl Rove. If Hillary does indeed lose many, perhaps even Bill will lay the blame squarely on his shoulders.
7 Clinton Era Baggage
Half of likely voters nationwide said they would never vote for New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, in a poll Zogby conducted Oct. 11-15, 2007, with a margin of error of +/– 1.0 percentage point. She essentially started the race with half of America opposed to her to begin with. Where Obama began the race as very nearly an ‘unnamed democrat’ had very little baggage to begin with. After two terms even popular presidents make enemies and leave office with many people disliking them – Hillary inherited much of this before she ever ran for president.
8 Alienating the Press
Hillary Clinton recently boarded the press bus that follows her around, brought bagels and coffee for the reporters, and delivered some pleasant remarks about what a great experience Iowa has been. But Kornblut pointedly noted that this was Hillary’s "first and only [time] on board the bus since she started campaigning almost exactly a year earlier," and Kornblut noted that the press corps sat "in silence" until Hillary left. Her distrust of the media from her days in the White House led her to limit her exposure to the media and treat them in a way that did not endear her to the press. Eventually personal relationships with the press matter and contrast her treatment in the press with the near gushing treatment afforded Obama.
9 Squandering Bill
Hillary unlike Kerry did decide to unleash Bill Clinton, but seemed to have no coherent strategy about when to or how to use her biggest asset. Using a spouse to attack running mates didn’t work for Edwards and it made likable Bill seem anything but that. The unflattering way in which he was used only reminded voters of the worst of his presidency rather than focusing on the positives.
10 Focusing on Large Donors
Obama raised money from thousands of small donors, setting records not unlike Dean did in the 2004 race. Hillary spent more time going after large donors which raised more cash early on when she was the presumptive favorite. The ‘Ron Paul’ effect of focusing on the little guy for fundraising made Obama look like the underdog insider and Hillary like the establishment insider. Obama’s fundraising effort had a viral effect and politicians will be studying his record setting
So much for her perfect season…