Hillary Land Reportedly Struggling To Find Meaning On Campaign Trail

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Oct 07, 2015 4:30 PM
Hillary Land Reportedly Struggling To Find Meaning On Campaign Trail

Hillary land is saddled with a problem: finding meaning to her 2016 presidential run. Why is she running? What does she stand for? That seems to be a question that’s taking up some serious sticky note space. While the former first lady seems to be taking a firm stand on pushing for new gun control laws, even going as far as using executive action on background checks, this is an expected move. Her party is notoriously trying to curb Second Amendment rights and uses mass shootings as fertile ground to launch a nuclear strike against the prevailing social attitudes we have on gun politics.

Yet, that’s not the issue here. It’s finding meaning in Hillary land, which has been saddled with nothing but bad news throughout the summer. Her email fiasco isn’t going away, and her poll numbers have sunk to the point where her electability is now in question. The prohibitive frontrunner is described as a “liar," "dishonest," "untrustworthy," and a "fake” concerning word association with voters. Not the best to work with, but that doesn’t mean her team isn’t trying or has given up (via the Hill):

“The wall of stickies makes me nervous, because she should be for one vision for America and then maybe she achieves that vision with a bunch of policies,” said Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. “I’m probably for most of the things on the stickies, but voters will have a tough time digesting a campaign with about a hundred policies.”

David Axelrod, one of the masterminds of President Obama’s 2008 victory, has persistently warned that Clinton needs to provide a clear rationale for why she’s seeking the White House.

“ ‘Hillary: Live with it’ is no rallying cry!” Axelrod tweeted last month while bemoaning that the Clinton camp was running a “grinding, tactical race.”

Last December, Axelrod had warned that Clinton needed to show she was “running for a purpose and not just for a promotion.” He has also said, “You have to stand for something, you have to fight for something, and people need to know what that is.”

While Clinton loyalists might complain that Axelrod’s frequent barbs reflect the bad blood generated during the 2008 race, others in the Democratic Party share his concerns.

“Nothing about the campaign reads as fresh and new, but rather as cautious, risk-averse and private,” one Democratic strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said of the Clinton campaign.

Independent observers, too, suggest that the former secretary of State has been slow to offer a summation of her reasons for seeking the presidency, beyond personal ambition.

Doug Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at Baruch College at the City University of New York, said Clinton could end up getting into a tangle similar to the one that famously ensnared Edward Kennedy. Asked in a 1980 TV interview, “Why do you want to be president?” Kennedy gave a vague, meandering answer that was perceived as sapping his momentum.

That latter point seems to be occurring here, with Hillary’s poll numbers in key swing states continue to sag, coupled with a dive in her favorability ratings. As Guy wrote today, she’s continuing to lose to various candidates in the GOP field in Iowa and New Hampshire. In Iowa, she’s lost a third of her support since June, and Sen. Bernie Sanders has a 22-point lead over Clinton in New Hampshire. Over at Hot Air, Ed wondered if Team Clinton was giving up on the Granite State. As of now, it looks as if the prohibitive Democratic nominee for 2016 can’t compete there. To make matters worse, Hillary has lost a huge chunk of Democratic women (with leaners) since July. To pour more salt in the wound, Clinton has seen a 31-point drop in support among African-Americans, according to a USA Today poll.

Over at FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver noted that Sanders could win New Hampshire and Iowa, but lose everything else given how the primary electorates shift after two states with a predominantly white voter base cast their ballots; Sanders’ core group of support is white progressives. When we get to other contests, the electorate becomes more diverse, which would increase the chances that Hillary would get things going again–and eventually clinch the nomination. Winning over, or at least being competitive with, nonwhite Democrats, moderates, and southerners is essential for Bernie to remain competitive after New Hampshire. Most nonwhite Democrats barely know who he is, but the dip in black support for Clinton and women should have that campaign somewhat nervous, given then that this is all compounded by the fact that Sanders had a pretty solid fundraising quarter. He almost raised as much cash as Clinton.

The inevitable nominee is losing the first two major primary contests, while bleeding key voters and is raising only slightly more cash than her closest opponent; this isn’t exactly the recipe for a good news cycle. Oh, and one of the reasons why women are fleeing Clinton: they think she’s lying about her private email system. If Hillary needs to find a reason to give voters why she should be our next president, the time is now. At the same time, I hope she remain lost, as everyone seems to think she is with this aspect of her campaign.