Some Democrat leaders are ‘fearful’ of a Hillary candidacy

Not because of what they perceive to be her adequate qualifications for the office, but because of how she could galvanize a Republican base which loathes the Clintons:

They say the former first lady may be too polarizing for much of the country. She could jeopardize the party’s standing with independent voters and give Republicans who otherwise might stay home on Election Day a reason to vote, they worry.

In more than 40 interviews, Democratic candidates, consultants and party chairs from every region pointed to internal polls that give Clinton strikingly high unfavorable ratings in places with key congressional and state races.

“I’m not sure it would be fatal in Indiana, but she would be a drag” on many candidates, said Democratic state Rep. Dave Crooks of Washington, Ind.

Unlike Crooks, most Democratic leaders agreed to talk frankly about Clinton’s political coattails only if they remained anonymous, fearing reprisals from the New York senator’s campaign. They all expressed admiration for Clinton, and some said they would publicly support her fierce fight for the nomination — despite privately held fears.

The chairman of a Midwest state party called Clinton a nightmare for congressional and state legislative candidates.

A Democratic congressman from the West, locked in a close re-election fight, said Clinton is the Democratic candidate most likely to cost him his seat.

‘She’s so damn unpopular’

A strategist with close ties to leaders in Congress said Democratic Senate candidates in competitive races would be strongly urged to distance themselves from Clinton.

“The argument with Hillary right now in some of these red states is she’s so damn unpopular,” said Andy Arnold, chairman of the Greenville, S.C., Democratic Party. “I think Hillary is someone who could drive folks on the other side out to vote who otherwise wouldn’t.”

“Republicans are upset with their candidates,” Arnold added, “but she will make up for that by essentially scaring folks to the polls.”

In national surveys, Clinton’s lead over chief rival Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois has widened. Her advantage is much narrower where it counts most — in early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire. In matchups against potential GOP presidential candidates, Clinton leads or is tied.

The Clinton campaign points to those figures to make a case for her electability in a constant stream of e-mails, letters and phone calls to jittery Democrats across the country. A key to their strategy is to give Clinton’s candidacy a sense of inevitability despite her negative ratings, which aides insist will go down.

“All the negatives on her are out,” said Clinton’s pollster and strategist Mark Penn. “There is a phenomena with Hillary, because she is the front-runner and because she’s been battling Republicans for so long, her unfavorability (rating) looks higher than what they will eventually be after the nomination and through the general election.”

What the Clinton campaign doesn’t say is that her edge over potential Republican candidates is much smaller than it should be, given the wide lead the Democratic Party holds over the GOP in generic polling.

She’d definitely motivate the Republican base to go out and vote against her, but from personal experience, I know many a Democrat who are not fans of Hillary Clinton. This is especially true amongst Democrat women I know, where there is a strong dislike of the former First Lady. That’s anecdotal evidence, to be sure, so take it for what it’s worth. I believe there is a stonger dislike of Hillary Clinton out there than what the polls are letting on, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that we’ll see evidence of that come primary season. Right now, all roads are pointing to Hillary to be the nominee, but in August 2003 candidate Howard Dean was starting to fly in polls and popularity, and even got the endorsement of a Democrat big wig by the name of Albertius Gorius as well as the unions, only to see his star fall and fall hard come primary season.

Will Dem voters do as they did back in 2004, pick a candidate they felt was more ‘electable’ than the favorite? Or will they pick her in hopes that their party will have the first ever woman president in US history? If they do pick her, not only will the base be motivated more than ever to go to the polls, but she has a lot of negatives that a smart GOP candidate could and should exploit – like her Socialistic tendencies, her need to ‘cultivate’ relationships with a military that detests her (with good reason), and her hypocrisy on courting big business and hedge fund firms for starters.

Heck, the right candidate could exploit that while at the same time talking up his own ideas, and we could end up seeing the American version of Sarko’s victory over Sego in France.

Hoping, praying …

Via Joe Gandelman.

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