Sunday, January 17, 2016

Did Hillary Foolishly Underestimate Bernie Sanders?

While the GOP nomination fight has gotten even uglier and more unhinged, on the Democrat side of the process, what some thought would be a coronation for Hillary Clinton more and more seems to becoming a competitive race against Bernie Sanders.  I will concede that I like much of what Sanders has to say.  My number one concern is who can beat the ultimate Republican nominee because I see a Republican in the White House as of January 2017 as nothing short of a disaster.  The Supreme Court hangs in the balance and many policies put in place by Barack Obama through executive orders would likely be rescinded.  A Democrat simply have to win come November 2016.  As a piece in the New York Times reviews, Clinton may have totally under estimated Sanders - at least in the early primary states.  Here are article highlights:
According to Democrats close to the Clintons and involved with her campaign, Mrs. Clinton and the former president are also unnerved by the possibility that Mr. Sanders will foment a large wave of first-time voters and liberals that will derail her in Iowa, not unlike Barack Obama’s success in 2008, which consigned Mrs. Clinton to a third-place finish. They have asked her advisers about the strength of the campaign’s data modeling and turnout assumptions in Iowa, given that her 2008 campaign’s predictions were so inaccurate.
As the Democratic rivals prepare for what is likely to be a contentious televised debate on Sunday night, the Clintons are particularly concerned that her “rational message,” in the words of an aide, is not a fit with a restless Democratic primary electorate. Allies and advisers of the Clintons say Mr. Sanders is clearly connecting with voters through his emotional, inspiring rallying cry that the American economic and political systems are rigged for the wealthy and powerful. By contrast, Mrs. Clinton has laid out an ambitious policy agenda, but more recently has been stressing her electability and questioning the costs of Mr. Sanders’s ideas.

"Hillary is a pragmatic progressive — she’s not an advocate,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont, who last week campaigned in Iowa for Mrs. Clinton over his home-state senator Mr. Sanders. “She quietly pulls people together and gets things done. Even though that’s not in vogue right now, I think that’s what voters will want in the end.”

But Mrs. Clinton’s problems are broader than just her message: Opinion polls show that some Democrats and other voters continue to question her trustworthiness and whether she cares about their problems. Recent polls show that her once-formidable lead over Mr. Sanders in Iowa has all but vanished, while he is holding on to a slight lead over her in New Hampshire.

[T]hey were not prepared for Mr. Sanders to become so popular with young people and independents, especially women, whom Mrs. Clinton views as a key part of her base.

Given her many political advantages, like rich donors and widespread support from Democratic Party elites, she is also surprised that Mr. Sanders’s fund-raising has rivaled hers and that her experience — along with her potential to make history as the first woman elected president — has not galvanized more voters.

Several Clinton advisers are also regretting that they did not push for more debates, where Mrs. Clinton excels, to more skillfully marginalize Mr. Sanders over his Senate votes in support of the gun industry and the enormous costs and likely tax increases tied to his big-government agenda.   Instead, Mrs. Clinton, who entered the race as the prohibitive favorite, played it safe, opting for as few debates as possible, which were scheduled at times when viewership was likely to be low — like this Sunday at 9 p.m. on a long holiday weekend.

“In the debates, she has shined, and while conventional wisdom says they offer no upside to a front-runner, she would benefit from more,” said Carter Eskew, a Democratic strategist

Both Mrs. Clinton and her husband believe she can still win the Feb. 1 caucuses in Iowa and the Feb. 9 primary in New Hampshire despite Mr. Sanders’s gaining ground recently and now being virtually tied with her in many polls in those states. But the Clintons also believe she can survive losses in both places because of the strength of her political organization and support in the Feb. 27 primary in South Carolina and in many March 1 Super Tuesday states and other big states to follow.

Yet some Democratic Party officials who remain uncommitted said that after nine months of running, Mrs. Clinton still had not found her voice when it came to inspiring people and making herself broadly likable. While Mrs. Clinton is known for connecting well with people in small settings, she has not shown the same winning touch as consistently at rallies or in television interviews, they said. 

“Her voter base does not seem as gung-ho energetic as Sanders’s base,” Mr. McDonald said. “It may be that they feel like they are waiting for the real race to begin. But an enthusiastic base can make a big difference in the early stages of a presidential nomination campaign, and if Hillary can’t pull away from Sanders fairly early in the season, I suspect he will gain strength rapidly.”

No comments: