Post-new Hampshire Thoughts

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THE PLANK JANUARY 9, 2008

Post-new Hampshire Thoughts

 

1. A year ago, I wrote an article making the case that Hillary Clinton was not the inevitable Democratic nominee. Unfortunately, the link is not available. Then last week I wrote a blog post saying she’s toast. Unfortunately, that one is available.2. How did Clinton pull it off? Obviously it’s guesswork. I think she had her best moment of her political career Monday when she choked up defending herself. It was a lot like the moment before the 2004 Iowa Caucuses when James Rassman suddenly appeared, of his own accord, to tell the story of how John Kerry saved his life in Vietnam. Clinton was immensely sympathetic, and humanized herself in a way she had never been able to do before. (I’m not saying it was deliberate--you’d have to be an excellent public performer to fake something like that, and Clinton is not an excellent performer.)3. The odds of a Republican presidency suddenly got a lot higher. There’s really only one potential matchup that would give the GOP a better than even chance of winning: John McCain versus Hillary Clinton. McCain is a popular personality who can attract the support of voters who aren’t inclined to support his party. Clinton is an unpopular personality who loses the support of voters who are otherwise inclined to support her party. If she wins the nomination, it will be because she’s a polarizing figure who rallies Democrats as the object of Republican attacks. (If George W. Bush could run for re-election, he’d easily ace the GOP primary for the same reason.)4. I still think the Democratic race is about a 50-50 proposition right now. Obama has an excellent chance to win in Nevada and South Carolina, which would give him an edge going into February 5. If Clinton pulls out one or both, it’s probably over.--Jonathan Chait

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