Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) is pretty much assured of the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. At the same time, it is worth recognizing that there are at least some members of her party who are not enchanted with the prospect of having to defend a candidate who they believe isn’t progressive enough, and who has her own share of “baggage”. What if large numbers of those disenchanted stay home on voting day? That tips the scales towards a GOP win.
HRC’s problem is that if she becomes too progressive in her campaign rhetoric, she risks losing moderates and swing voters. If they stay home or vote Republican, the scale tips further towards the conservatives’ nominee.
Based on the foregoing, you should get the clear sense that voter turn-out is going to be important in determining who will be our next head of state. HRC does not generate the level of excitement and voter commitment that Obama evoked. Yet, she is surely dependent upon the Obama coalition of people of color, women, and students. If she can’t get those groups to the polls, she is in trouble. So, her ability to turn out her voters is going to be more crucial than ever.
Say what you will about the GOP’s assortment of real and faux candidates, their thin resumes (1) and extreme positions on gay marriage, abortion and immigration reform. But, they do inspire in their grassroots supporters, passion and a deep commitment to get to the polls. Winning back the presidency and holding control of both houses of Congress is their dream as it would allow them to turn back decades of social progress and fray if not completely destroy programs like social security and medicare.
If you couple all of the foregoing with the dedicated effort by GOP-controlled state legislatures to suppress voting in the “Obama coalition” (see above), then you can see that HRC’s chances of winning are, right now, only slightly better than even money. That’s likely to change, for better or for worse, as the GOP picks its candidate and campaigning kicks into high gear. Whatever the case, in what is likely to be a close election, voter turn-out will really matter; perhaps this time more so than ever.
1, Carly Fiorina’s claim to “fame” (sic) is that as CEO of Hewlitt-Packard, she so mismanaged the company that she got herself fired. Dr. Ben Carson was a competent neurosurgeon before he retired, but has never so much as run for public office at any level. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio suffer from the same lack of experience that Republicans accused Obama of back in 2008 when he was then a first-term US senator. The breadth of Mike Huckabee’s appeal extends no further that the right-wing’s Christian, evangelical base.