Today being Election Day 2007 (not that I have any races in which to vote), I thought it would be a good time to lay out a vision of how the Democrats could once again manage to shoot themselves in their collective feet and wind up on their collective posteriors come Election Day 2008.
One would think that given approval ratings for President Bush in the low to mid 30% range and with over two-thirds of those polled saying the country is going in the “wrong direction”, the opposition party (Democratic) would have a pretty darn good shot at retaking the White House in 2008. In fact, one popular online trading/wagering site has a generic Democratic v. Republican matchup running at 62.0% Dem to 36.2% GOP. However, neither party will nominate a generic ticket; they will nominate specific candidates, and that’s where the Dems get into trouble.
Put simply, the problem is Hillary Clinton, love her or hate her. And most of the country does one or the other already. In fact, one survey showed that fully half of those surveyed said that they would NEVER vote for Senator Clinton for President. So, despite national polls showing wide preferences for a generic Democratic candidate over a generic Republican, the actual nominees have very different prospects.
Here’s the nightmare scenario, if you’re a Democrat. Clinton steamrolls her competition in the primaries, and even selects someone relatively “safe” as her running mate – e.g., General Wesley Clark, or Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN), or possibly even Gov. Bill Richardson. There’s really no way she’d choose Obama – why exacerbate potential prejudices by creating a “double minority” ticket? Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani fights his way to the Republican nomination, and chooses a running mate popular with the Christofascist wing of the party, such as Mike Huckabee, in an effort to shore up his support. Hyper-conservative voters who might have otherwise turned away from Giuliani now have two reasons to vote for him – they like Huckabee, and more importantly, they absolutely loathe the idea of the Clintons’ residing in the White House again. More than any anti-gay-marriage ballot initiative, the presence of Hillary Clinton atop the Democratic Presidential ticket will motivate the religious right to turn out in droves. That support gives Giuliani a few key states, locking up his electoral triumph in 2008.
Oh, and let’s not forget that a Clinton-Giuliani matchup actually brings New York into play. Talk about a Democratic nightmare – imagine trying to cobble together an electoral majority without NY’s 31 electors.
I’ll leave it to your imagination what would happen to the image of America abroad if President Giuliani enters office and decides that the biggest problem with the Bush-Cheney foreign policy was that it wasn’t aggressive enough against Iran. Just remember a year from now, you read here about how it could happen.