It's true that several Democratic contenders besides Hillary will pull more conservative voters to their side. Yet I would argue that there are too darn few "conservative" voters left to determine the winner of the Democratic presidential nomination.
That leads to the other half of the equation. Can Hillary Clinton defeat a Republican nominee and become president?
Yes, quite possibly. For one thing, the Bush administration has so crippled the Republican Party that any GOP nominee likely will be running with a huge millstone around his or her neck.
With that in mind, realize that if the liberal Obama wins the Democratic nomination by beating the first truly viable woman presidential candidate in history, then even a wounded Republican nominee could probably win.
And no, a warmed-over Democratic nominee such as John Edwards likely wouldn't do the trick for his party.
But a woman would, if that woman is so well-known that polls show she draws considerable support from independent women. Hillary does.
And don't forget, we're talking about a Clinton. They're smart enough to know the value of a third-party candidate to shear off votes. If there's another Ross Perot out there, they'll find him.
The general election is so far off as to constitute a wild card from the perspective of now. Anything could happen.
But the Democratic nomination? Take it to the bank. It's Hillary.