There’s been a slightly weird “speaking truth to non-power” moment recently in the blogosphere where MYDD’s Chris Bowers has been joining Team HRC in trying to convince us all that Hillary Clinton has a daunting advantage in the upcoming primary race. I’m not buying it and neither is Jonathan Chait who notes correctly that her polling isn’t nearly as good in the early primary states as it is in big, vague national polls:
In a memo published the day she announced her candidacy, Clinton pollster Mark Penn offered up a rebuttal to this inconvenient fact. Clinton, he argued, is bound to rise in the early primary states as she spends more time there. But other candidates will be spending more time in Iowa and New Hampshire, too. The question is: Which candidate is more likely to benefit from endless hours of speechifying, hand-shaking, and town hall meetings? There’s no reason to think the answer will be Clinton. While she may be just as smart as — and more experienced than — Edwards and Obama, she is an average orator, while Edwards is a very good one and Obama is a brilliant one. Having seen all three give speeches, it’s hard for me to imagine how a prolonged side-by-side comparison will move voters into Clinton’s camp. And, as the best-known of the leading candidates, she’ll have the hardest time making a strong new impression anyway.
This seems right to me. Something Chait doesn’t mention, is that I think she’s particularly vulnerable because she’s counting on a perception of inevitability to boost her to victory. Insofar as leaders of progressive institutions believe she’s likely to win, they’re unlikely to point out that she’s a poor choice. There’s no point in opposing someone who’s certain to win. But as cracks in the armor appear more evident, I think there’s a good chance of a downward spiral as more opinion leaders speak out.