Hillary on the Ropes
A Commentary By Dick Morris
The amazing victories by Obama and Huckabee in Iowa are truly historic. They demonstrate the impact and viability of a message of change in both parties. In the Democratic Party, Obama, winning in a totally white state, shows that racism is gone as a factor in American politics. On the Republican side, Huckabee’s win shows how a truly compassionate conservative can win by harvesting voters who want the message of concern for the poor and for values to prevail.
But what of Hillary? She’s down but she’s not out. Hillary Clinton, in the first really contested election of her own political career, lost dismally-- outclassed, outdrawn, and outpolled by Barack Obama.
Her campaign professionals (including Bill) decided to stress experience, precisely the wrong message in a Democratic primary. Prematurely appealing to the center and abandoning the left, she fell between two chairs – not sufficiently centrist to win independents or liberal enough to attract Democrats.
On the Republican side, Huckabee brought a new phenomenon into politics. A New Testament Christian politician, he takes the Biblical message to the center-left, clothing the naked and feeding the hungry. His refusal to indulge in negative advertising sent a message to Iowa voters showing his strength under fire.
The Obama victory in Iowa probably presages a victory in New Hampshire and follow up victories in Nevada and South Carolina. (Hillary will win Michigan because she is alone on the ballot). Suddenly, Hillary’s argument that she should be the candidate because she has a record of defeating the “Republican attack machine” will backfire. Sold as a winner, she will be exposed as a loser. The overhang of Iowa will dog her for all of the early primaries.
Particularly important for Obama is the poor finish of John Edwards, who has campaigned in Iowa for six years. Now Obama can count on being the nearly unanimous choice of the anti-Hillary voters. No longer will the vote be divided.
Hillary faces a serious problem: Voters rejected her and rejected Bill on a very personal basis. Iowa was a referendum on Hillary and she lost 30-70. Her argument of experience only reinforced her phoniness and her issues positioning showed how contrived her ideology is. This is a stinging personal defeat for Hillary.
But what will happen next? With the limelight comes the spotlight. Obama will suddenly become the putative candidate of the Democratic Party and will be subject to the scrutiny that comes with the title. Can he weather the examination?
Perhaps not. Democrats may turn on Obama, worried that he may not win in November. The doubts about Obama, up to now hidden behind concerns about Hillary’s candidacy, will be on center stage. I wonder if he can stand the scrutiny.
Much the same process will evolve on the Republican side. Ignored in the Iowa result, Giuliani appears to be in even worse shape than Hillary with his fifth place finish. But the same process that will unfold for the Republican Party may take place on the Democratic side. Voters may wonder if all that stands between the White House and the Democratic Party is a Mormon, a Christian evangelical, and a 70-year old. Rudy, like Hillary, may look better once the rest of the field unfolds.
But don’t write off Obama or Huckabee. Their appeals are truly unique and obviously resonate with voters. Their approaches are now and the outcome shows how relevant their message is.
YOU CAN GET THESE COLUMNS E-MAILED FOR FREE BY SUBSCRIBING AT DICKMORRIS.COM!
Current data from RasmussenMarkets.com suggest that McCain has a John McCain to be the Republican Presidential Nominee in 2008 % chance of winning the Republican nomination, Rudy Giuliani Rudy Giuliani to be the Republican Presidential Nominee in 2008 %, Mike Huckabee Mike Huckabee to be the Republican Presidential Nominee in 2008 % , Mitt Romney Mitt Romney to be the Republican Presidential Nominee in 2008 %, and Fred Thompson Fred Thompson to be the Republican Presidential Nominee in 2008 %.
Among Democrats, the markets suggest that Clinton has a Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic Presidential Nominee in 2008 % chance to win the nomination while Obama has a Barack Obama to be Democratic Presidential Nominee in 2008 % chance.
These numbers reflect results from a prediction market, not a poll . RasmussenMarkets.com is a “futures market” that harnesses competitive passions to becomes a reliable leading indicator of upcoming events. Using a trading format where traders "buy and sell" candidates, issues, and news features, the markets correctly projected both Obama and Huckabee as the winners in Iowa.
Prospects for other candidates and races are featured on the Rasmussen Markets Summary page.
We invite you to participate in the Rasmussen Markets. It costs nothing to join and add your voice to the collective wisdom of the market.
Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.
We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.
Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.
To learn more about our methodology, click here.