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Hillary's Coat-tails

9:43 AM, Oct 3, 2007 • By RICHELIEU
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A reader writes your Cardinal:

Can you, s'il vous plait, apply your considerable clairvoyance to the conundrum that appears to be developing regarding la reine Hillary Rodham Clinton in terms of her national polling largesse versus the rumors/articles claiming that she will have "reverse" coat-tails on the Democratic party in a general election?

It's simple, my child. The winning candidate in national polls right now is "Not Republican." Hillary Clinton is the most famous Democrat and in many ways the most popular one, so she leads at present. But today's polls are only of the moment and not eternal. Much can and will change. Whether Hillary will ultimately emerge victorious from the primaries is still an open question.

As per her potentially negative coat-tails, that will depend on the generic Republican versus Democratic environment next year. In a "normal" election, it is hard to image how Hillary Clinton would ever have effective coat-tails in GOP-leaning districts beyond the odd upscale suburban district in the Northeast. In sunbelt areas, HRC would be, if you'll pardon the expression, a very heavy cross for local Democratic candidates to bear; especially since she is running far to the left of her husband on most issues.

But the GOP still has much repair work to do in order to make 2008 a "normal" election. If things are as bad next year as they are today, even a ticket led by a weak candidate like HRC could pick up local seats in a vote more about protest and change than affirmation of the Democrats.

My interpretation of the Heavens, however, does suggest at least a partial improvement of GOP fortunes between now and November 2008.