All along I’ve said that Hillary Clinton will have a much better shot in the general election than Barack Obama, and I’m surprised by the number of people who claim to disagree with me. I’ve read some opinions that indicate people think race is easier to overcome as an “issue” than gender, but I don’t think Obama’s problem is that he’s biracial (or even that he has an Arabic middle name). For instance, if Colin Powell were running for president I’d say he might have a shot. It’s Obama’s politics that are going to be difficult to sell to the general public when the competition expands beyond average Democrats and extreme-left-leaning Democrats.
I asked two registered Republicans who they think will be the easiest candidate for McCain to beat, and they both said Obama. I know that doesn’t constitute a study (though it often suffices for the sake of Internet squabbles), but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Still, my reasons for thinking Clinton has a better chance against McCain aren’t anecdotal in nature. Obama doesn’t have any ammunition with which to spin his progressive ideas into something that will look more similar to McCain’s. Politics is a game of appealing to the masses – and Clinton is going to be much better positioned to pull that off in the end.
Clinton was a big part of her husband’s administration. A variety of women might have had Bill’s you-know-what, but by all White House accounts Hillary had his ear when it came to policy issues. And Bill Clinton played a large role in two very conservative pieces of legislation: NAFTA and Welfare-to-Work or, as I like to call it, “The War on the Children of Impoverished Single Women.” When competing against McCain, the Clinton campaign will play up her role in this process in an attempt to appeal to more moderate and conservative Democrat and independent voters. They are only playing it down right now while she’s trying to appear “leftier than thou” against Obama.