Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Would Hillary have helped the Obama ticket?

That's the question asked by Glenn Thrush and Martin Kady at Politico:

Republican Rep. Candice S. Miller says Barack Obama had only one shot at Palin-proofing the Democratic ticket — and he missed it when he passed over Hillary Rodham Clinton as his running mate.

“Every woman in America knows what Barack Obama did to Hillary Clinton: He looked at her and thought, ‘There’s no way I’m doing that,’” said Miller. “If Hillary was on the ticket, he’d be in a much better position to win women voters.”

Sarah Palin’s presence — coupled with Clinton’s absence — may be altering one of the great verities of American politics: that women voters overwhelmingly favor Democrats.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released this week showed white women swinging hard against the Democratic ticket. Obama left Denver with an 8-point lead among white women; by the time John McCain pulled out of St. Paul, Minn., with Palin at his side, he had taken a 12-point lead.

Former Clinton strategist and pollster Mark Penn on Tuesday said that it’s too soon to know where women will wind up in November, and he declined to engage in any “woulda, coulda, shoulda” speculation about how things might be different if Clinton were on the Democratic ticket.

But another former Clinton adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the “Obama people have got to be kicking themselves” for not putting choosing Clinton as his No. 2.

Julia Piscitelli of the American University’s Women and Politics Institute agreed. “I don’t think Palin would be seeing these kind of gains if Hillary was on the ticket,” she said.

“When Obama picked Biden, it gave Republicans an opening, and they are taking full advantage of it. ... The question is: How long will it last?”

The answer, some Democrats say, is not long.

“I don’t think this is a real swing [in the polls] until it’s been a week, said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), one of Obama’s busiest female surrogates. “We’ll need to see whether Sarah Palin is willing to answer questions. ... No one will be a stronger advocate for Barack Obama and Joe Biden than Hillary Clinton.”

To Senator McCaskill, it's nice to be a cheerleader for Obama, but you're wrong on two points. First, it's been thirteen days since John McCain chose her, and it's been almost a week since the convention ended. Since then the swing in the polls has been considerable. It can't be denied that Obama is taking a beating int he polls when it comes to the women voters in this country. The question is "will this be maintained?" We think it can be, but the numbers will surely drop over the course of the next eight weeks. Given the division in the Democrat party right now, the support that McCain is enjoying right now for having Sarah Palin on this ticket could be the make-or-break factor for his ticket. Second, you want answers? I guess you missed the story from Mike Allen at the Politico on Monday about how Sarah Palin will have an interview with Charles Gibson which is supposed to air tomorrow and Friday. the McCain camp has said that "no topics are off-limits -- there are no ground rules."

Could having Hillary on the ticket have blunted the influence of Sarah Palin in the race? We think that had Obama taken Hillary, McCain might not have chosen Sarah Palin. Then again, he could have, which would have blunted the "historic" significance of an Obama/Hillary ticket. At the very least, had he made the choice, he'd have an attack dog that doesn't suffer from rambling, stumbling gaffes.

We really don't know if she could have helped him. The appeal of Sarah Palin to many women is that she's a classic feminist. She has the kids, the husband, and the job. She's got it all. She's also not bitter like today's more aggressive feminists are. There is appeal for Sarah Palin. There are upsides to her that the Democrats never expected. That's the real game-changer in this race. Taking Hillary would help keep the female base of the party in his camp, but the appeal of Sarah Palin to moderates, Independents, and the Republican base is what has caused the swing in the polls.

Before her addition to the ticket, the GOP's base was going to do one of two things on election day. They'd either hold their nose and pull the lever for McCain, or simply refuse to vote at all for president. With Palin on board, the GOP faithful not only tossed aside those notions (for the most part) but they got really fired up for McCain for the risk he took in choosing her. Picking Palin wasn't necessarily a shot across the bow of the Democrats (though that has an added benefit), but it was more an attempt to unify his base, and the gamble worked.

The Hillary question will plague Democrat strategists for years to come. But the effect Palin has on the election has more to do with our base than what she does to the Democrats. That'll be shown in the 2 October debate against Joe Biden. The fact that the Obama camp is stumbling over itself right now simply shows they don't know how to deal with her, and Hillary isn't in any hurry to help him out with his continuing Palin problem.

Publius II


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