Global Independent Analytics

The presidency is Hillary Clinton’s to lose

Clinton is more likely than not to be president at this time next year, but the election will probably be closer than you think and Trump could actually win if she doesn’t play her cards right

James Hohmann for The Washington Post reports:  The elites in Washington almost uniformly believe Hillary Clinton will be elected president in November. The conventional wisdom underlying coverage of 2016 is that Donald Trump will go down in flames and probably take the Republican Senate with him.

The presumptive GOP nominee has a well-documented history of misogyny, xenophobia, and demagoguery. He has alienated women, Hispanics, Muslims, African Americans, Asian Americans and Native Americans. He has mocked the disabled, prisoners of war and Seventh-day Adventists. The Speaker of the House and both living former Republican presidents are withholding endorsements.

It should be a slam dunk for HRC, right?

However, six months ago almost no one could believe that Trump had any real shot at becoming the Republican standard bearer. With Clinton struggling to sew up the Democratic nomination against a socialist septuagenarian – she’s expected to lose tomorrow’s Kentucky primary – we cannot foreclose the possibility that she will botch the fall campaign against the billionaire businessman. If only she does not change her strategy (and there are 12 ways for her to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the presidency is hers to lose.

1. Complacency

The chances are that Clinton losing in Michigan to Sanders was motivated by the misleading thought both her supporters and staffers shared: she already had it in the bag. Clinton is at her worst when she thinks she’s at her best. She tends to rise to the occasion only when her back is against the wall. In harsh situations which might end in her losing her caucuses, she temporarily becomes a much better campaigner, but that is not enough.

2. Unforced efforts

Another reason for her possibly losing Kentucky is her tendency to gaffe: claiming that “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business” is not likely to win over voters.

Besides that, she also invoked 9/11 to defend her coziness with Wall Street, when she called Republicans the enemy or when Hillary said she and her husband were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001. Moreover, she prompted a quick retraction by incensing the gay community by praising the Reagans for starting “a national conversation” about HIV/AIDS.

3. Not inspiring

“I am not a natural politician, in case you haven't noticed, like my husband or President Obama," Clinton said at The Post’s debate in March. Her speeches are not always uplifting, as they should be, and it is one of the reasons why so many millennials, including young women, have preferred Sanders to Clinton. While Sanders promises tuition-free college, she talks about extending an obscure tax credit.

4. Not being “likable enough”

Several polls demonstrate that Clinton’s level of approval may have set a new low; not only that, but her numbers have deteriorated since the beginning of her campaign. However, her staffers and campaigners are trying to soften her stiff public image by highlighting her compassion and playing up her problem-solving abilities. “I mean, we can’t give her an injection to make her an energetic candidate,” one longtime Clinton family supporter and donor said on background.

5. Moving too far to the right

Clinton’s campaign is trying aggressively to appeal to moderate Republicans who are turned off by Trump while simultaneously trying to unite Sanders' supporters behind her, and failing at both. Her shifting rightward to win votes might look inauthentic which will not work the way she wants.

6. Moving too far to the left

Clinton has treated Sanders with kid gloves recently. She wants him and his people to fall in line after the July convention in Philadelphia, and she calculates that antagonizing him is not worth sewing up the nomination earlier. However, her platform does not provide that much of a liberal policy; last week, for instance, she embraced several reforms to the Federal Reserve that are sought by the progressive wing of the party. Also, leaning too far left might make it harder for her to win those in the middle and woo disaffected Republicans.

7. Bungling her VP selection

Although there is no perfect pick, Clinton’s possible VP choice might upset at least some portion of the Democratic Party. People close to her campaign admitted that she was looking for a candidate that could not only directly appeal to Sanders’ supporters, but also could cope with a hand-to-hand fight with Trump.

Targeted by progressive activists hoping to kill his chances of being picked as Clinton’s running mate, Julián Castro is set this week to announce changes to what’s become a hot-button Housing and Urban Development program for selling bad mortgages on its books. The move is doubtful and might cost her a handful of voters.

8. Allowing herself to get defined as an insider

Clinton lost to Obama in 2008 by underestimating the electorate’s hunger for change. Once again, Hillary risks coming to represent the status quo in the eyes of voters who want a renegade. Considering her being an embodiment f business, those who are unhappy and want change might reject her.

9. Not directly engaging with Trump’s attacks

Last week, Trump called Clinton an “enabler” of her husband’s behavior. While objectively offensive, the Democratic front-runner steadfastly refused to respond. “I’m going to let him run his campaign however he chooses,” she told reporters. “I have nothing to say about him.”

Although ignoring the insults coming from Trump seems like a logical behavior, her impulse to keep the press away portrays her as only trying to seem approachable, making her vulnerable to fall under accusations of those who eventually will believe her rivals, considering the willingness of media to keep it in the news.

10. Bill going “off the reservation”

Trump will try to make Hillary own all the unpopular elements of the Clinton era. Expect to hear a lot about Marc Rich’s pardon and the Lincoln Bedroom.

Hillary will take credit for the popular elements of her husband’s tenure and take umbrage when Trump tries to pin the unpopular parts on her, as she already has with the crime bill and Wall Street deregulation. Unless she learns how to deal with WJC properly, he might irreversibly ruin news cycles for her.

11. Being overly secretive

Although her secrecy – including her refusal to release the transcript of her speeches at Goldman Sachs – might not work well for her, Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns – along with his evolving answers and lame excuses – neutralizes this potential problem for the Clinton campaign.

12. Getting indicted

The infamous alleged mishandling of classified information hangs like a cloud over her campaign. Although there still is no significant information that possibly could tie Clinton to criminal wrongdoing, prosecutors and FBI agents hope to be able to interview Clinton as they try to wrap up the investigation. The story has already sparked controversy and criticism, and even if the charges are taken off, her public image has suffered enough already.

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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