Skip to comments.Winning over the Hillary haters
Posted on 12/06/2004 9:29:20 AM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection
In a race for the US presidency, Hillary Rodham Clinton faces a problem that has dogged her since her days as first lady: an entrenched bloc of voters who simply do not like her. And her experience as a senator in New York shows that despite vigorous campaigning around the state since taking office, she remains an extremely polarising figure who is unable to sway these voters to her side.
One poll after another shows that roughly one in three New Yorkers has an unfavourable opinion of her, a statistic that has not changed since she took office in 2001.
Nationally, her standing is worse, even as her aides prepare for what is emerging as a possible bid for president in 2008. Roughly four out of 10 Americans disapprove of her, according to a recent poll by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.
The voters who disapprove of the former first lady are numerous and unshakable, and they have been around so long that they even have a name in political circles - Hillary haters.
She offered a revealing answer when asked recently whether Republicans might be hoping that she becomes the Democratic presidential nominee in 2008, since it would give the Republicans a divisive figure to run against.
Clinton, who studiously avoids answering questions about her presidential ambitions, quickly responded. "We have a president who is quite polarising, and very successful, I might add," she said during an appearance on NBC's Today.
Her high unfavourability ratings may help explain why a discussion has begun among her advisers over whether she should skip a Senate re-election campaign in 2006 and instead focus all her energies on a race for the White House.
The most obvious challenge that Clinton faces in running for both jobs is a compressed political calendar that leaves her very little room to manoeuvre: the Iowa presidential caucuses are held just 14 months after election day in 2006.
If she sticks to the schedule that John Kerry followed during this presidential election cycle, she would have to give a clear indication of her desire to run for the presidency a mere month after her Senate race is over.
But that seems unlikely, some political analysts say, because the timing would be awkward.
Yet some people close to Clinton maintain that the tight calendar should not be a problem because she is such a big celebrity, and any presidential campaign she embarks on would instantly attract a huge amount of attention.
But other Democrats and independent political strategists say that her celebrity is a double-edged sword: while she does enjoy a level of name recognition other politicians crave, she has earned a reputation that, fairly or not, makes her a polarising figure among moderate swing voters, an important bloc nationally.
"There's work for her to do nationally," Marist Institute director Lee Miringoff says. "Beyond her appeal to the Democratic base, there is a need for her to build bridges to reach out to moderate Republicans and independent voters if she hopes to succeed."
The so-called Hillary haters became a harsh reality of political life for her when she ran for the Senate. Republicans built much of their campaign on trying to tap anti-Clinton sentiments in New York state.
No one factor accounts for the deep misgivings many voters express for Clinton, but to some degree it stems from a view that has taken hold, fairly or not, that she is a hugely ambitious woman with a liberal agenda that was most significantly illustrated in her efforts to overhaul the nation's health-care system during her husband's presidency.
She sought to counteract the damage posed by the anti-Clinton feeling by spending nearly two years travelling around the state in a calculated effort to force voters to re-examine what, if anything, is so objectionable about her.
Many Democrats and independent political strategists contend that she may have to do much the same nationally.
"To be successful nationally, she will have to defuse some of the negative feelings," Miringoff says. "One way to attempt that is to replicate what she did in New York with her listening tour."
A Democratic political strategist on Capitol Hill agrees. "She may have 100per cent name recognition," the strategist says. "But it comes with a certain amount of baggage."
Even after her victory in New York, Clinton has taken nothing for granted, continuing to travel around the state constantly, as if running a perpetual campaign.
The strategy has yielded dividends: her popularity rating among New Yorkers reached a notable 61per cent in September, compared with 38per cent in February 2001, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll.
Her approach has been particularly effective with undecided voters. The number of people who told Quinnipiac pollsters that they had no opinion of her has been dropping - to 7per cent in September from 33per cent in February 2001.
But tellingly enough, her tireless efforts around the state have done little to assuage the misgivings of many. The number of New Yorkers expressing an unfavourable opinion of her has been about the same - roughly one in three - in the 22 polls Quinnipiac University has conducted since 2001.
But her advisers contend that the poll findings have, in fact, been very good news for her, saying that many undecided voters became supporters once they got to know her.
"Show me a poll where she has lost ground," said one Democrat who is close to Clinton. "You can't. They don't exist. She has been gaining supporters both in New York and nationally since she took office by virtue of her hard work."
As countless talking heads have noted, show me ONE state that Bush won in 2000 or 2004 that Hillary can convert to the Democrat side. Florida pops up as the only possible battleground, with all the retired Blue State NY & NJ folks, but those blue-haired, ex-Manhattanite grandmas and grandpas weren't anywhere near enough to give Kerry the state, and I don't see Hillary doing much better.
I'd like to see the Toons subpoenaed in the Oil For Food investigation.
Oh, that's not news to me. All too true.
A "bloc" being defined as "anyone with a pulse."
There is a single factor: She is a Communist.
please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please let her run
Hopefully, the Republicans will be able to recruit a viable candidate to run against her for Senate. If she loses that race, it would seriously cripple any intent that she has to run for President. One lesson that the Republicans need to learn, however, is that we can't just keep bringing up the old scandals. We don't have to ignore them, but we need to demonstrate how, on policy, she is out of step with the rest of America. If there is one lesson that we should have learned from the the Clinton Presidential election of 1996 and the just recently passed election, it is that you can't just campaign on hatred of the other candidate. You need a positive agenda and you need to consistenly and rationally point out how the other person is totally out of step with the accomplishment of that agenda.
She can win the Senate seat back easily, as the RINO New York GOP, led by the feckless, inept dunce Pataki and RINO prince Gloomberg, will probably recruit the Nassuau County assistant to the assistant Deputy Dog Catcher to run against her. Just witness the folly of Mills v. Schumer, and other embarassments that Pataki & Co. have fathered. Hilary is a shoo-in in 2006.
BADGE OF HONOR ALERT !!!
I don't hate Hillary. It's just that her presidency would be a fascistic disaster for this nation.
...anyone with a brain wave.
Depends on who she runs against... Rudi still hasn't publicly said what he's doing over the next 4 years.
This is why Senator Clinton is likely to lead many House and Senate Democrats in the fight against various GOP plans to legalize illegal aliens.
"BADGE OF HONOR ALERT !!!"
There is a pretty cool story behind her calling me an asshole if you would like to hear it. To quote her fully, she was walking by, stopped, pointed at me and said, "There is that asshole again!"
But like I said, I would wear that title as a badge of honor --- much preferable to having her call you "her good friend, speed_addiction
Tom Daschle good? John Edwards good?
The electorate is polarized into 2 camps: The Informed Voter and the Uninformed Voter. I suggest most of the support for Hillary comes from the latter group, hence their inability to understand why we don't love Evita.
Problem: She is Hillary Rodham Clinton!
Oh my gosh. . .Hitlery COMPLIMENTED George Bush? Will wonders never cease. (Or is this just another of her ploys to 'remake' her image in preparation for '08?)