I left out a couple things in my long blog post yesterday on which Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, can beat John McCain. So get ready…
The first thing I didn’t mention is this: Hillary Clinton has more experience combating the right wing’s attacks. Yes, there probably more mud to sling at her, and yes, conservatives have already spent decades doing research on the Clintons—but as she’s said on the campaign trail, she’s taken the worst they can throw at her and she’s still standing.
Obama is coasting along with relatively low negatives right now, but in a general election the Right will find a way to drive those up. They’ll find mud to sling at him too, and if they can’t find any, they’ll create some out of thin air. Obama won’t mobilize Republican donors, volunteers, and voters the way Clinton will, but he will still get attacked as violently and as frequently as she would. Will Obama be able to respond effectively? We honestly don’t know. He’s never run a tough race against a nasty Republican.
It’s fair to say that because Clinton is a known quantity for so many Americans, and because the Right has already revealed its cards in how it’s going to attack her, she has a tight ceiling and tight floor. If she wins this election, it’ll be an incredibly hard fought battle with McCain that ends up 51-49 or 52-48. If the Democratic wave that we all foresee doesn’t occur, she could lose by that same two to four point margin.
Obama on the other hand has a higher ceiling and a lower floor. He’s energizing young people, minorities, independents, and people of all ages who don’t traditionally engage in politics. He has fewer angles of attack for the Republicans to use, and presents a greater contrast to McCain. He could win a huge electoral college landslide and usher in new Democratic senators and congressmen around the country. But he could also screw up in the general election when he starts facing real nastiness for the first time in his career and lose by a substantial margin.
More after the jump…
One thing Democrats should keep in mind is that their impression of the candidates is vastly different from everyone else’s.
According to a Pew poll released on February 3, Hillary Clinton’s favorability to unfavorability rating among Democrats is 80-15. Democrats really like her. But that same rating among Republicans is 14-82. And among independents its 46-47. She’s going to win very, very few Republicans in the general election, if any at all. And she has a shot at winning half the indies.
But Obama’s numbers tell a different story. His favorability to unfavorability rating among Dems is 76-16, actually worse than Clinton’s by a small margin. But over a third of Republican approve of him: 37-52. And independents love him: 62-27.
Obama may be right when he says that he will get her partisans in the general (who are almost all core Democrats), but she may not get his partisans (who include a ton of indies).