Is Hillary’s Star Fading?

Hillary is widely assumed to be the Democrats “chosen one” for 2008, a candidate who will easily take the nomination and will be a tough opponent Republicans will be lucky to beat. But, as the days have worn on, I have become convinced that she is a significantly weaker candidate than most think. In fact, not only would I go so far as to say that she probably won’t beat a moderate to strong GOP candidate in 2008, but I’m becoming less and less sure she will even be the nominee for the Democrats.

The latest blow to Hillary comes from the numbers in a Cook Political Report/RT Strategies national poll. Here’s the key data and analysis:

“Among all adults, 42 percent chose the pro-Clinton option and 52 percent the anti-Clinton option. The numbers were almost identical among registered voters, with 42 percent choosing the pro-Clinton option and 51 percent the anti-Clinton option.

But as with McCain, the real story is in the party breakouts. A huge 66 percent of Democrats agreed with the pro-Clinton statement, with just 29 percent opting for the anti-Clinton package. But among independents, just 41 percent of independents chose the pro-Clinton case, with 51 percent favoring the anti-Clinton arguments. Not surprisingly, among Republicans, 76 percent opted for the anti-Clinton arguments and 18 percent opted for the pro-Clinton.

Among Democrats and those independents who usually vote in Democratic primaries, 60 percent chose the pro-Clinton package and 34 percent chose the anti-Clinton arguments, while among the hardcore Democratic primary voters, it was 65 percent pro-Clinton, 28 percent anti-Clinton. In Tarrance’s eyes, Clinton has a “brand image problem.” The negative brand of being “too liberal” is an enormous albatross around her neck among independents and Republicans.

Not surprisingly, there is a huge gender gap. Among all adults, women were virtually tied, 48 percent choosing the pro-Clinton case, 46 percent the anti-Clinton arguments. But among men, just 36 percent picked the pro-Clinton case, and 58 percent chose the anti-Clinton case. And the age differentials are interesting. Among those between 18 and 34 and those 50-64 (her age cohort, the older Baby Boomers), the pro- and anti Clinton cases are almost exactly even, but those 35-49 had 16 percentage points more anti-Clinton than pro, while among those 65 and older, they were 22 points more anti than pro.”

I’d add to this that even though Hillary does well among Democrats, which bodes well for her chances in the primaries, the Michael Moore/Kos crowd is very lukewarm to Hillary. Although that’s a loopy group of libs, they’re also highly motivated, highly influential, and are likely to make up a disproportionate percentage of volunteers and financial contributors.

When you consider that Hillary isn’t doing well with independents, isn’t likely to carry any Southern states, isn’t particularly charismatic, isn’t doing well with independents, and according to this poll, is losing men by 22 points, you’ve got to wonder if we might see a Howard Dean like flame-out when Democratic voters have to actually decide if they want Hill as their candidate. Granted, Hillary and Dean are stylistically two very different types of politicians, but when Democratic voters concluded Dean was too much of a big mouth to win, they abandoned him. In Hillary’s case, if they conclude she just has too much baggage to win, the same thing could happen.

Time will tell…

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