If the Election Were Held Today...
I wrote a post a few days ago arguing that it was pointless for the media to keep asking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton whether she will ever run for president again. On the heels of that nostalgia boomlet, we now have stories reporting on new Gallup poll data showing Clinton with higher favorability ratings than President Obama. It can’t be long before some enterprising survey firm fields the question, “If the 2012 presidential election were held today, would you prefer Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee?”
Most political observers would tell you that the current comparison between Clinton and Obama is the proverbial apples and oranges. As president, Obama is ultimately responsible for all executive branch output, and public opinion will either reward or punish him accordingly. In contrast, our main experience with Hillary Clinton as the nation’s chief diplomatic officer is seeing her in lots of impressive ceremonial situations with foreign dignitaries, which comes with little political downside since she reports to the president.  Thus far, Clinton has received high marks in her new position, but it entails a very different political dynamic than serving as president.
I am not sure why we have the sudden renewed interest in this aspect of Clinton’s public persona. I guess it has to do with Obama’s lower approval ratings, and unhappiness among progressives (and independents) who believe the president has not delivered on his campaign promises. If nothing else, I am sure the media would love to have a new crop of buyer’s remorse stories to kick around the internet and cable news. All we need is a little more polling data.
Note: I have to step away from the website tomorrow, but I will be back on Monday, October 19th with new content for you.  See you soon. -Dean


Posted On: 10-18-2009 09:45:36 by Jim Splaine
Good post. As an original supporter of Hillary Clinton, I'm still excited about her future prospects, though I'm delighted to have President Barack Obama. Your post does hit on the greater issue of early polls in general. They are ALL gut-reaction name-recognition current-image numbers where we, as an interviewee of the pollster, give our opinion. It's a sad Catch 22 that one's showing in early polls gives fundraising momentum to those potential candidates who are doing well in those early polls, while great potential candidates who want to talk about substantial issues are left to drifting in the woods because "he/she hasn't a chance," according to those early polls. Too often we forget that even someone like Barack Obama was trailing Hillary Clinton in those early polls for months, until the media started listening to the issues, not just focusing on name, image, or fundraising. Wouldn't it be great if the pollsters would hold their horses until a couple of weeks before an election. But of course that won't happen, because the talking heads like some basis of what they believe is "science" in making their judgements about who's on first. I'm afraid that as a result, we lose a chance to pick leaders as opposed to those who are successful fundraisers, and we end up with government that serves those contributors rather than the greater good.

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