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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Electability Debate Continues

As Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continue to slug it out on the campaign trail, the question that continues to obsess political observers and many actual voters is which candidate would be stronger in a general election contest with John McCain. Here at The Democratic Strategist, we’ve decided to occasionally publish some expert thoughts on the subject, beginning today, when Binghamton University political scientiest Jonathan Krasno makes the case for Obama. (We’ll publish someone making the case for HRC before long).
But underlying this comparative debate is a slightly different one: what are the fundamentals of this general election campaign? What’s the baseline of support for the two parties? Does either Democrat begin with an advantage based on Bush’s unpopularity, the trend of independents towards Democratic voting exhibited in 2006, the the “enthusiasm gap” between Ds and Rs evidenced in this year’s primaries and caucuses, the issues landscape, or the ability of the two Democrats to bring in new voters or persaude swing voters?
As the list in the last sentence reveals, I’m in the optimist camp when it comes to overall Democratic prospects, whether our presidential nominee is named Hillary or Barack. But others disagree. I was talking to a colleague the other day, who after I declared myself “upbeat” about November, said: “Upbeat? Let’s see. Republicans quickly decided on a war hero loved by the news media. We’ve got a cage match with daggers between two demographically limited candidates. Wanna give me some of that kool-aid you’re drinking?”
This far out, of course, all talk about the general election is highly speculative. But given the magnitude of the stakes, it’s probably not premature.

One comment on “The Electability Debate Continues

  1. quihana on

    Let’s not forget that recent history always has the war hero losing to the draft dodger:
    Clinton – Dole
    Bush – Gore
    Bush – Kerry

    Pour me a full glass.


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