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Could Elizabeth Warren Beat Hillary Clinton?

[ 171 ] November 11, 2013 |

Noam Scheiber says yes:

Which brings us to the probable face of the insurgency. In addition to being strongly identified with the party’s populist wing, any candidate who challenged Clinton would need several key assets. The candidate would almost certainly have to be a woman, given Democrats’ desire to make history again. She would have to amass huge piles of money with relatively little effort. Above all, she would have to awaken in Democratic voters an almost evangelical passion. As it happens, there is precisely such a person. Her name is Elizabeth Warren.

I hope this is right. But I think Jamelle probably has the stronger case:

Or, at least, she could represent an existential threat. But I don’t think she will. It’s noteworthy that, in his piece, Scheiber doesn’t say much about Warren’s signature on a secret letter urging Clinton to run for the Democratic nomination. At most, he argues, it’s a pledge that won’t stand if Warren decides the presidency is key to advancing her policy agenda.

But, to my eyes, that letter says everything about where Clinton stands vis a vis the rest of the Democratic Party. In short, 2016 won’t be 2008, where Clinton was a powerful but contentious figure in the party, and a well-organized challenger could capitalize on grassroots anger and establishment discontent to derail her path to the nomination. Now, Clinton is a wildly popular figure, with one of the highest statures in American politics. Among Democrats, 67 percent favor her for the nomination (compared to 4 percent for Warren) , and in an early poll of potential New Hampshire primary voters, she has the highest favorability ratings—near 80 percent—of any potential candidate. This is a far cry from 2006, where—at most—she had support from a plurality of Democrats.

One thing to add is that the younger voters who are more supportive of economic populism are also the least likely to vote in primaries, which will make it harder to break Clinton’s hold on the party’s base. And as admirable as Warren is as a public figure, given that she ran 7 points behind Obama in Massachusetts whether she can appeal to a broad enough based of Democratic voters in a wide enough variety of states to pose a serious threat to Clinton is an open question.

Still, while I take Scheiber’s point that it’s too early to declare anyone inevitable, it’s just going to be very difficult for anyone to beat Clinton. Clinton is a much more popular figure than Christine Quinn, so I don’t think the de Blasio example gets you very far. Since I don’t see a better possible candidate to challenge Clinton at this point, I hope Warren runs, but she’d have to be considered a massive underdog against Clinton.


Comments (171)

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  1. Anderson says:

    Finally, the GOP sees a glimmer of hope in 2016.

  2. Who would Warren go to in order to raise the necessary dough?

  3. Malaclypse says:

    Is there any reason to believe that Warren, having won one single election, wants to run for President in 2016?

  4. Ben F says:

    Agree with SL’s take as things stand now, but it’s still very early: after all, approximately 0% of the primary electorate had Obama as a preferred candidate in November 2005. There’s lots of time for Clinton’s approval numbers to change in accordance with subsequent events (whether shenanigan-based or otherwise) and likewise several plausible scenarios in which Warren’s profile increases considerably over the next 16 months.

  5. Tom Servo says:

    Realistically speaking, I think only a woman has a chance to beat Clinton in 2016, so it’s great that we have Warren. It would be optically bad and put a progressive at a rhetorical disadvantage to argue for a white guy over Clinton. Just being realistic here.

    There is also a solid contingent of asshole Clinton supporters who are *still* bitter about Obama beating her. A female alternative to Clinton dramatically reduces their rhetorical firepower and takes the edge off Clinton being able to present her candidacy as historic-because Warren will do the same.

    What’s important to me is getting as progressive a Democrat as possible, of course. If that happens to be an old white man, so be it as far as I’m concerned. But given the optics and the historicness at stake, we’re damn, damn lucky to have Warren.

    • Aimai says:

      I think thats a very odd assumption to make. First of all tons of Democratic men are going to run against Clinton and they are going to run hard. Because you only get so many shots at the Presidency. And the women’s vote is not going to go unequivocally for HRC–it didn’t last time and there are plenty of women who are not that into the “first” issue. And there are going to be spinners and pollsters and all kinds of pundits to explain why Hillary will suffer from a “lack of charisma” or “people don’t trust her” or whatever to make the case for, say, Tester or someone like that running against Christie or whatever. In fact I just heard a guy ask the “charisma” question about HRC in discussing a hypoethical Christie/Clinton matchup. I’m not saying I agree with his point but lets face it Christie (as we know) ran right over a progressive woman and I believe Atrios pointed out that the right wing is going to play up the “ooky, creepy, old lady” factor big time. I think Clinton has a better chance of any woman I’ve ever heard of getting the nomination, and even making it to the presidency, but I don’ t think its going to be a coronation. She’s going to have to fight hard.

      • Tom Servo says:

        That may all be true, but I think the PUMAs are going to be even worse this time around if a man beats Clinton again.

        • DivGuy says:

          There are no actual PUMAs.

          I mean, there were some people who made angry comments on blogs, and there were a lot of right-wingers who claimed to be PUMAs (basically a subset of the Yoosta Bees), but the number of people who were actual left / center-left voters who left the party on feminist grounds after Clinton lost was vanishingly small.

          • mark f says:

            The only real live PUMA I’m aware of seems to be motivated by a weird/sad breakdown that has less to do with actual politics than paranoid conspiracy fears. It’s not distinguishable from the people who thought Prince’s Super Bowl performance was sending out secret Illuminati messages. I don’t think it’s a constituency worth worrying about.

            • Aimai says:

              I agree with both statements–there aren’t any real Pumas in the sense of a die hard actual cohort with any real numbers, and that there are occasionally cranky people who pretend that they really wanted Clinton qua Clinton. Either there aren’t enough of them to make the slightest difference or they will end up not voting or throwing their vote to the democrat again, just like most of Clinton’s actual supporters and Clinton herself did to Obama.

              • GoDeep says:

                The PUMAs I knew all ran back screaming to the Democratic Party after McCain nominated Palin. Had he not made a mockery of Hillary’s platform, I’m not so sure we wouldn’t have seen a protest vote. Had he nominated, say, Olympia Snowe, he might have prevailed.

                In the recent VA elections, for instance, Cuccinelli won the white woman vote, but he didn’t win it by a big enough margin. Had he won another 6% of white women he would’ve won the election. So the PUMA faction doesn’t have to be sizable in order to have a pronounced impact on the race.

        • Shakezula says:

          There are many valuable ways to spend one’s time. Worrying about what the PUMAs will do two presidential elections after they were face slapped under the bus isn’t even on the top 100.

          As for keeping them happy: You might as well wonder how the Democrats can produce a candidate who is palatable to TeaBaggers.

      • Anonymous says:

        People damn well better be asking ‘the “charisma” question’ re Clinton trying to run against Christie. I know a lot of people think the rude schtick isn’t going to work outside of the East Coast and I tend to agree, but I’m far from sure of it. And we can count on his toning things down as the national cameras start to pay more and more attention to him. You’re not operating in the real world if you don’t think Hillary Clinton is going to be at something of a disadvantage in relatability terms if her opponent is Chris Christie.

  6. Erik Loomis says:

    The real value of a Warren run is providing a progressive alternative to Clinton, forcing her to the left on some issues and reminding her that Democrats are more than rich people who donated to Terry McAuliffe’s campaign.

    Whether it’s Warren or not, it’s necessary to have a strong progressive contest the Clinton crowning ceremony or Mark Penn Revisited will probably be the campaign philosophy. May be anyway of course.

    • shah8 says:

      I’ve not expected anyone but Sherrod Brown to throw the hat into the ring (to the left of the money wing).

    • Two Iced Americas says:

      Would this actually make any lasting difference? Edwards’ campaign, focused on income inequality, appeared to have little impact beyond drawing decent but lesser health care proposals out of the Clinton and Obama campaigns.

      • MH says:

        Given that one of those lesser proposals ended up being the signature legislative achievement of the candidate who did win that last sentence is a little bit odd.

        “Beyond dragging the other candidates to the left and having a huge impact on their policy proposals, Edwards had little impact on the election.”

  7. Aimai says:

    Oh for fuck’s sake. Noam Schieber’s piece is so stupid I can’t even see it on a curve. The very first thing you would have to grasp is that female politicians are not like male politicians–yet. I said this over at SteveM’s site but it bears repeating: while almost every male politician, from dogcatcher to senator, may look in the mirror and imagine he sees a future President damn few female politicians, and certainly not those of Warren’s age, do so. Hillary does and some of the younger female ones do but most of them know that they would have to have an even more prolonged period of public “seasoning” to be considered ready to run/win even in the primary. Warren fought a hardscrabble fight to get from where she started to Harvard Professor, politics is not her original goal and I’m pretty sure that for her and the other workhorses in the Senate that the Senate itself is a high honor and responsibility. Unlike Ted Cruz and Rand Paul (and even Obama) she probably didn’t get into the SEnate thinking it would be a springboard to the Presidency.

    In fact, I daresay, from watching her, that supreme power is not her personal goal. She has always had a domestic agenda and the job of president has a huge foreign policy component which is not a clear interest of hers. I’m not saying she wouldn’t accept the VP slot if someone approached her and put it to her that she could help the ticket. And I’m not saying she wouldn’t be thrilled to be put on the Supreme Court. She has ego and goals and ambitions and a lot of Democratic loyalty. But I don’t think she would consider running for President in the coming election, against Hillary Clinton or simply on her own. She’s really not stupid–not as stupid as Noam “niche marketing flavor of the month” seems to be. She knows she ran under very special circumstances that are unrepeatable at the national level.

    • Tom Servo says:

      I also think that Warren is far more valuable in the Senate. I do hope that she can light a fire under Hillary’s ass to push her a little to the left though.

      • Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq. says:

        I agree with you here. Two things are needed: Someone who pushes the dem candidates in the primary to the left. And legislators who enforce this left turn once a new president is into office.
        But as I said below, this, in political terms, far away and the next Congress can already achieve some progressive legislation.

      • Anderson says:

        I do not see how “pushing to the left” is going to be any help in the general election. A Dem-primary bloodbath would make Karl Rove fart for joy.

        Our problems with getting any progressive agenda the time of day are very deep-rooted and are not going to be addressed by any magical insurgent candidates.

        And, what Aimai said. Why on earth would anyone assume that Warren’s qualified or ambitious enough to be president? Why would *Warren* assume that? YMMV, but my own recent experience of “ex-law prof/1st-term senator becomes president” has been something of a mixed bag.

        • Aimai says:

          I think Warren is qualified enough–but I don’t think thats where her ambition leads her and I think she’s more of a realist about her talents than any man who ever got into the Senate, ever. Except maybe those placeholders who got stuck in for a few months because someone died. She’s just not an egomanic.

        • Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq. says:

          Well, nudges the field to the left on some issues. I don’t envision a full out war among the dems. Also if you read my comments below you’ll see the for now I assume that Warren would be more effective by building up a power base in the Senate.

    • mark f says:

      The funny thing, though, is that those “very special circumstances” are pretty similar to the likely dynamic in 2016. That is, a lot of people will want her to run against someone no one else wants to run against.

      I still don’t think she will and I’m ambivalent as to whether she should.

    • brad says:

      Yeah. When talking about possible Presidential runs it’s hard not to look at the public persona presented by the figure. Warren seems very much to lack the pathologies that drive most who run for President, which while a credit to her as a person is a genuine impediment in a campaign. And I think she realizes she’d be wasted in a VP slot, not to mention she’d offer no real tactical advantages I can see from this far out.
      If I were laying odds on a Clinton VEEP, I’d look to Richardson, personally.

      • Erik Loomis says:

        “If I were laying odds on a Clinton VEEP, I’d look to Richardson, personally.”

        There’s a 0% chance of this happening. First, he’s a has-been. Second, he has a LOT of skeletons in his closet. He also sucks at governing, as someone who lived in New Mexico during his governorship.

        There is more than 1 Latino politician in the Democratic Party.

        • brad says:

          Latino is just one portion of it. Southwestern is, I’m guessing, second best, regionally, to southern Atlantic coast states, and he’s part of the old Clinton network.
          I wasn’t advocating for him, I want as little DLC era crap to come in with Hillary as possible. But I know nothing of these skeletons, so maybe not. It would seem preferable to skew younger and more charismatic.

        • Greg says:

          I’d like to see Hilda Solis on a presidential ticket.

        • joe from Lowell says:

          First, he’s a has-been. Second, he has a LOT of skeletons in his closet. He also sucks at governing, as someone who lived in New Mexico during his governorship.

          A Hillary Clinton running mate is going to be someone who is poll-tested to be a good match for Hillary, someone who brings something to ticket that it needs from an electoral perspective. She’ll be a candidate who selects a running mate, not a President, like Kerry did with Edwards.

          Bill Richardson is widely admired as a foreign policy heavyweight, but that’s really the last think the Clinton campaign is going to need to worry about.

      • mark f says:

        Really? I thought Richardson’s ambitions sort of flamed out when he accepted a not-prime-time cabinet nomination, from which he had to withdraw his candidacy. I haven’t heard his name in years.

    • panda says:

      The point about her foreign policy is so spot on. Based on both what she says and what I heard about her positions from people in the Harvard community, she is probably somewhere to Obama’s right when it comes to the Middle East. I wonder how will her theoretical champions react when the great sellout is revealed.

    • Brien Jackson says:

      I dunno, I think that most politicians with a legitimate shot at winning a nomination would like to run for President. Foreign policy component or not, the ability to set the agenda of government and, somewhat more importantly, decide the stance of the Democratic Party in many respects is a far bigger power than any individual Senator has, and in a normal year I’d probably be putting my bets on her candidacy at the moment, actually.

    • cpinva says:

      I would personally love to see a Clinton-Warren democratic ticket in 2016. talk about a great pairing: two incredibly smart, no bullshit women. the candidate debates would be incredibly entertaining, all by themselves. can a candidate withdraw, after being shredded publicly, because I can easily see any republican candidate needing psychological counseling, after being intellectually abused by either Clinton or Warren. god, i’m getting the dip ingredients ready just thinking about this!

    • stepped pyramids says:

      I don’t think Warren will run, and I think she is fairly likely to endorse Clinton and do it early. People assuming that Clinton is going to run hard to the right on domestic/populist issues are mistaken, I think.

  8. Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq. says:

    Couple of points. First, all this speculation about the 2016 presidency is a bit odd when the main goal of the democratic party should be to make inroads in Congress, and, perchance to dream, take the House in 2014. While the House is out of reach for now, republican behavior till the election might change that. Generally I have the feeling that among many liberals the off elections are not taken seriously enough. They merely decide if there is functional government in the last two years of this administration and if it is possible to rescue something of the economy.
    Further there must be an effort to regain state legislatures. Heck even down to the lowest level there progressives must try to make inroads.
    And I don’t even know if Warren can do much more good as Senator than as a president. Generally Congress should be strengthened and the executive should be weakened and that means that capable progressive legislators are needed. I mean what is the use of leftish president if Congress is to his right and divided.

    • C.S. says:

      I mean what is the use of leftish president if Congress is to his right and divided.

      You’re kidding, right?

      • Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq. says:

        No, If I wrote something stupid here, please enlighten me. Of course gridlock is better than give the GOP another shot at governing put these are rather low aspirations.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      I mean what is the use of leftish president if Congress is to his right and divided.

      You think a single Senator can have a greater impact on financial regulation than the President?

      • Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq. says:

        That was not the point that it was trying to make. But having a somewhat progressive Senate is obviously essential if anything is to be done. And strong leadership is required within the Senate. Having the Presidency is maybe the most important but it is not sufficient. In addition it would be better if Congress takes some power from the executive.

  9. SP says:

    Warren for Treasury Sec under Clinton?
    And let me state that I’m sick of goddamn special elections in MA. Primary and general for Kennedy, Kerry, and now Markey (I used to be in Capuano’s but got redistricted to Markey last cycle.)

    • Tom Servo says:

      I have mixed feelings about Warren at Treasury. I feel like she’s more valuable where she is.

      • panda says:

        There is simply no comparison between the power of an incumbent Senator from a reliable liberal state serving on the banking committee and that of a presidential appointee. She would be mad to give up her position in the Senate for any presidential appointment, unless said president goes the full Cromwell and dissolves the congress.

        • Hogan says:

          I would give a lot to see Obama telling a joint session of Congress, “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately. Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

        • Brien Jackson says:

          I don’t think this is right at all. At least for as long as Congress remains dysfunctional, more and more policy making is going to be outsourced to the executive branches. Heading Treasury is likely to give a person far more power over the relevant territory than any individual Senator has.

          • panda says:

            But the treasury secretary both serves at the pleasure of the president and has to compete with other advisers, quite often people closer to the president than him/herself for the president’s time. On the other hand, there is almost nothing that can stop a senator from disrupting a policy or derailing a nomineee or getting public opinion to challenge the president.
            In other words, could have Treasury Secretary Warren derailed the Summers’ appointment? Could she had won a bureaucratic war with the people who were pushing Summers over, say, additionalstimulus? If she was successful, how could she have pushed it through congress? And if she was successful at that, how could she stop the congress from diluting her achievements?

      • Blanche Davidian says:

        By all means, let’s leave Warren where she is and get the Clinton/Goldman-Sachs band back together. They’ll surely be able to finish the job they started back when Bill led the charge to repeal Glass-Steagall. I mean, they nearly accomplished everything they were after in 2008, but let’s give them one more try. They won’t rest until the one percent has 99 percent of the country’s wealth. Remember, the era of Big Government is over, but Big Wall Street, like that lucky ol’ Sun, just keeps rollin’ round heaven all day.

        • panda says:

          No, let’s leave Warren where she is an where there is zero indication she wants to move from, so that she could provide a useful counter-weight to the worst proclivities of the Clintons. Additionally, I might be an irreducible optimist, but given how much the world has changed since, I think the proposition that a Clinton administration in 2017 would be nearly as right wing as the Clinton administration in 1998 is dubious.

        • Aimai says:

          This is not about cedeing the ground to Hillary–this is simply about disabusign stupid people of the notion that Warren either will run or would be a good choice. She won’t run and she wouldn’t be a particularly good choice. As someone pointed out upthread she probably would be far to Obama’s right on the military, among other things. And she has tons of good she can and should do right where she is. 1/100th of the Senate is a hugely important role and its not like we don’t have a ton of craptacular republican and blue dog dems there for her to counterweight.

          But in any event this is irrelevant. You need to look at the field as it is going to be constituted, not wish for a white knight “liberal” candidate to come and push the eventual nominee to the left. Because that person either exists within the current list of probable real contenders or they don’t. If they are so far out of the mainstream that their name isn’t known and they aren’t a real threat then they are as meaningless as Jill Stein. If we do know them and they have the ego and the potential backing to think they can make a real run then they probably aren’t really all that much more progressive than HRC.

          • Greg says:

            I could see Russ Feingold giving it a shot.

            • panda says:

              Feingold is going for his old chair in 2016. If he wanted to become president, he would have went after Walker during the recall, transforming himself into a national liberal hero had he won.

              • Aimai says:

                Yeah, Feingold lost a lot of oomph refusing to run against Walker, for me at any rate.

                • Schadenboner says:

                  While I love his stances to death (my first campaign was his in ’98 and the only loss I’ve ever cried over was his in ’10), Russ has no background in executive politics and not much indication of even being interested in such a role.

                  As I said, I like Russ, I’m pro-him. But my impression is that he doesn’t have the big plan-view that an executive needs to have if he is to govern (or even to stir the hearts of man to elect him).

                • dn says:

                  What Schadenboner said. He was a wonderful senator (it continues to depress me to this day that my fellow Wisconsinites traded him for Ron fucking Johnson) but he would be not be a great choice for a presidential nominee. Like Warren, his temperament is just not geared toward an executive role. As far as the recall, a “Russ for Guv” campaign would probably have been just as milquetoast as Barrett’s – the problems with the recall were far more serious than mere candidate selection.

        • joe from Lowell says:

          Do you actually think that a Treasury Secretary can push an economic platform at odds with, and designed to block, that of the President of the United States?

  10. tsam says:

    I’m voting for anyone who will promise me a flying car and demonstrate the ability to make good on that promise.

  11. DivGuy says:

    I want Elizabeth Warren to be Ted Kennedy. She will never have to give up that seat if she wants to keep it, and she has the obvious capacity to be a great legislator. She’s already practically created a branch of government.

    As with Kennedy, it’s not obvious to me that her appeal is exceptionally wide. Her numbers both in state elections and nationally are not that impressive. I love her, but I am not the median voter. Obviously people on the left can’t wait around for the perfect candidate who’s both a clear, powerful voice for economic justice and the political equal of FDR. If Warren wants to run, I will support her, I’ll volunteer and I’ll hope I’m wrong in this analysis. But I think she probably wouldn’t win, and I think she can accomplish more as a lifelong legislator.

  12. NewishLawyer says:

    I think I agree with Loomis. It would be interesting to see what happens if Warren decides to run in a primary against Hillary Clinton and even wins but it largely seems like an intellectual exercise.

    However, she was the first sign of more economic populism/liberalism among Democratic voters and politicians and a sign that the DLC/Neo-liberal and rightword tilt of the Democratic Party on economics is starting to crack. Now we also have De Blasio.

    I’m getting more and more convinced that the next fight in the Democratic Party will between the Wall Street/Silicon Valley Democrats and the Warren-De Blasio and more economically progressive Democrats. Matt Y came out with a great piece of neo-liberal concern trolling today:

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      is whether we should try to demand cost-effective public services or else whether we should view the public sector as a lever for the creation of good jobs and a standard-setter for wage and benefit levels throughout the economy.

      Talk about yer false choices!

      • Erik Loomis says:

        Yeah, not exactly Matt’s finest moment there.

        • NewishLawyer says:

          This is just one his essays where I can’t take him seriously and he just drops all pretense of any liberal thought.

          • Erik Loomis says:

            I’ve stopped reading him entirely at this point except when someone puts something in front of me like this. Otherwise, it’s just not a good use of my time. There’s no new or interesting information in his columns and if I want to read anti-union articles, I have a lot of choices on that front.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          And this in a career littered with not finest moments.

          Though the false dilemma beautifully illustrates his lack of depth. I mean, why not present the false dilemma and then explore the sensible paths which make it false?

          (Well, in this case, pretty clearly his hatred of teachers is driving it.)

          • jeer9 says:

            Matt Yglesias does not hate teachers. He just thinks their performance is sub-optimal as measured against the ever-evolving standards and that if their solidarity (cough, unions) were significantly weakened education scores would soar as they have in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and Virginia.

      • shah8 says:

        Dat’s one of his hobby horses. Part of a trilemma.

        1) Better Pay

        2) Better Services

        I can’t remember the third.

        In a sense, I profoundly agree with Yglesia’s formulation here, and I don’t think there’s that much wrong with it at a basic level. I certainly do not agree with his formulations, i.e., do you want to pay teachers more or do you want better (higher or better capitalized) schools? Where I do meet Yglesias is that the average American is seriously deprived of valuable services, health, legal, policing, educational, etc. A government that takes health care provision (including dental and vision) seriously, and at low cost to the public, will wind up being far, far, far, more valuable than the EITC, for example. You want people to have actual power to change or preserve their lives, and insofar as you set up a dilemma between higher pay for individuals and better services–that’s a bad thing. It’s also the thing that is present now. We preserve lots of paper-shuffling jobs in the health care industry instead of using that money to provide actual health care. However, Yglesias don’t point out this actual present day maladaption, instead pointing to his damned teachers thing again. We both need more teachers, and better paid teachers, and more schools and better kept up schools. There isn’t a dilemma here. Just straight up massive underfunding that can’t be cured by the “market for education”. Just raise the goddamned taxes to do things right! No funky Oregon Initiative or any other “innovation” where people try to grasp something for nothing!! Just basic governance.

        This is useful, also, I think, as a measure of how people in Yglesias’ circle thinks as well.

  13. jeer9 says:

    There’s no indication that the Clintons have learned anything in the past dozen years. Her nomination would be disaster in the making, polarizing all the haters, disenchanting the left, and transforming someone like Christie (an abominable asshole) into an independent “outsider.”

    • panda says:

      According to most polls of democratic voters, Clinton gets something like 60% of the vote, and a significant proportion of the crumbs she leaves get eaten by Biden. What is this “left” who is going to split the party that you are speaking of and how many divisions it has? Also, how can the haters be polarized anymore than they were polarized by Obama? Who is to say that Warren, a real life social-democrat, will not polarize them equally as well as Clinton?

    • joe from Lowell says:

      polarizing all the haters, disenchanting the left, and transforming someone like Christie (an abominable asshole) into an independent “outsider.”

      Of these three, only the last means anything.

      The haters will be polarized by anyone the Democrats nominate. In 2004, Jonah Goldberg started an “Anyone But Dean” effort, then after Iowa, switched it to “Anyone But Dean Except Kerry.”

      The left you’re talking about doesn’t matter. 99% of them will come home to the Democratic nominee in order to stop the Republican, and their nose-holding gestures and two bucks will get you a cup of coffee.

      But the last one: that’s why the Republicans like to look for governors. They love to run against Washington, and it could very well be easy to cast Hillary as “Washington.”

      • panda says:

        I actually disagree on the last point: Clinton has the unique ability to run as continuity candidate if Obama is popular in 2016, and as a change candidate in 2016, as she is both the path not taken in 2008 and someone who spent the last 8 years above partisan quarrels. Given where she stands now, and unless it is discovered she personally directed the Behngazi! attacks, it would be very hard to sell her as a standard Washington politician.

        • joe from Lowell says:

          I think you describe her profile among the high-information Democratic primary voter very well.

          I don’t think the median voter is going to see “Obama’s cabinet secretary” and think “Not Washington, above partisan politics,” even though Secretaries of State actually are.

          Here’s her history:

          Living in White House, 1993-2001
          United States Senator, 2001-2009
          Obama Cabinet Secretary, 2009-2013

          Lots of Washington.

          • panda says:

            But during her time as Secretary, she had extremely high favorability numbers among everyone, republicans included! Given her profile, this definitely indicates that people perceive secretaries of state as non-partisan figures, so the question is whether that position can be recast as “Washington” in the context of a general election.

          • cpinva says:

            “I think you describe her profile among the high-information Democratic primary voter very well.”

            I believe you’ve pretty much described primary voters, period. both dem and repub primary voters tend to be “high information”, in their respective categories: they know the candidates and they know their policy positions, as they relate to their respective parties. they tend to be a small subset of those self-identifying as democrats/republicans(tea partiers/independents) at large. they are the ones who actually come out to vote in the primaries.

  14. Shakezula says:

    It’s kind of weird. All of the things people (including me) like about Warren indicate she wouldn’t want the job. A lot of those things are also why she wouldn’t get the job. In short, to win a presidential election, she’d have to become the Un-Warren.

  15. SamR says:

    From the article:

    A Clinton-Warren matchup would have all sorts of consequences, none of them especially heartwarming. The most immediate is that Warren would probably lose.

    Scheiber’s basically arguing that Warren would be a more formidable challenge to Hillary than people think, but agrees that she would probably wind up losing.

    I feel like the headline on this post misstates the piece a bit because of this.

  16. P says:

    Hillary Clinton: Goldman Sachs’ newest White House franchisee

  17. sleepyirv says:

    So who while eating their cheerios, reading Scheiber’s article, thinks, “Hey, I’m an actual realistic candidate against Clinton! And I can go after her from the economic left!”

    Because I read this as more of a plea than argument. Who are the ABCs (Anyone But Clinton) going to back? I imagine it has to be someone not from the Rubin-wing of the party.

    • Aimai says:

      Except for a few posters here who are the “ABC’s” anymore,anyway? HRC has passed, thanks to longevity, into a fairly well liked brand older female politician. A whole lot of voters are too young to remember Clinton fatigue at all, let alone the financial issues.

      • P says:

        We can call them the Dumbocrats.

        • P says:

          Dumbocrats (n.) Democrat voters who think they are liberal/centrist. and continue to vote for Goldman Sachs’ approved candidates if they are from the jack-ass party.

          • Matt T. in New Orleans says:

            God, that’s so clever. You should write a book of such bon mots.

            • P says:

              It was the afternoon, I was working, and also trying to watch the snow falling, so I that’s what I could come up with in the few minutes I was in the comments.

              While I’m sympathetic with D voters who crave change, any D voter who actually thinks there will be change, or even a return to the party of FDR, is a f*ing idiot. As Obama said, FDR was irresponsible, and then Obama made out with Bob Rubin. And HRC was a Rubinite before Obama was. So – more of the same – until there ain’t no more.

              In sum, D voters who aren’t neoliberal are just dumb. Lesser evilists are even worse than dumb.

              • P says:

                And the party knows there won’t be change and that decreasingly large numbers of voters know this, so to keep the rubes (not Rubinites) in the boat, they keep dangling historicity in front of them – vote for the black guy! Historic! Next up – be part of history! Vote for the HRC – she’s a woman! Historic! As we swirl the drain.

    • panda says:

      My guess someone like O’Malley will try to reinvent himself as an economic populist, introduce himself to a national audience and gun for a VP slot by going after Clinton from the left, but not hard enough to create problems for her down the road.

      • wjts says:

        I think I would prefer O’Malley to Clinton. I am, however, an ABCDumbocrat.

        • panda says:

          All things equal, I’d be with you. However, given all the assets Clinton brings to the table, and the odds that next president will prob. appoint successors to Scalia, Kennedy and Ginzburg, he’d have to have one hell of a campaign for me to vote for him over her.

          • wjts says:

            Are you arguing that Clinton is more electable than O’Malley? (That sounds like I’m picking a fight. Just not sure I’m reading you correctly.)

            • panda says:

              At this point in time, yes. That could be a function of name recognition, but I think it would be a hard to make a case she is not the most electable democrat at the moment, by a mile.

              • wjts says:

                Yeah, I suppose that’s true for now. On the other hand, I remember Cuomo being talked about as a mortal lock on account of his national profile and popularity for 1992 (of course, folks were also saying that Bush Sr. couldn’t be beaten) and Bill Clinton being a non-entity on the national stage in 1989.

                • panda says:

                  That is all true, but I think that if O’malley is not much more famous than he is now by January 2015, he might find it very hard to get traction. At that that point in the 2008 cycle, Obama was not a declared candidate, but was already a more or less household figure.

                • Aimai says:

                  Obama had a break out moment at Kerry’s convention. My Republican sister in law was watching and came to me and said completely spontaneously “I would vote for that man…” Of course by the time he was actually running the next time around she was back in the Republican fold. But my point here is that Obama had a charismatic, star turn moment and an enormous amount of name recognition right across party lines. O’Malley is still in that “who? from where?” category. He has no negatives but he also has no positives. That doesn’t mean he won’t or can’t run it just means that he has to find a way to bump up his name recognition and what are the political moments where he can do that before the 2016 election?

                • rea says:

                  Cuomo (the elder) was a mortal lock for ’92, but he decided he didn’t want to be president.

                • wjts says:

                  And I don’t know that it’s a foregone conclusion that Clinton will decide she wants to run.

            • Sharon says:

              Martin has spent the last few years governing like a man who wants to be appealing to Democratic primary voters. In the last three years he’s reformed individual income tax rates, got the state version of The Dream Act passed, pushed marriage equality through the General Assembly, rolled back the death penalty, pushed a renewables mandate for electricity sold in the free State, pushed a tax to support Bay Cleanup that taxes impermeable surfaces, and he’s not gigging with his Irish bar band much as he did when he was mayor of Baltimore.

              I’m not a super fan of Martin, but I don’t think that the last few years of actions were just to set the table for his Lt. Governor to Walt into the governor’s office.

    • Sockie the Sock Puppet says:

      If I were going to concoct a campaign to run against Clinton, I wouldn’t start from the economic left — where she can pretty much start from scratch after eight years of “being out of politics” as it were — but from a point of cultural opposition. From the Mountain West/West Coast versus the East Coast, from the economic outside versus the Clinton insideriness, from a suite of youth/forward-looking positions (pot legalization, marriage equality, carbon pollution reduction, etc.) versus the dead hand of the 20th century.

      In some ways, that was the recipe that Obama used against Clinton, and I think she’s the most vulnerable to that line of attack. Hillary Clinton may have a lot of admirable qualities, but she came of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and her worldview (by necessity) still carries those scars. In an election deciding who could be president in 2020, that’s a liability.

      • Erik Loomis says:

        It’s telling that none of your youth/forward looking positions include economic issues.

        Which isn’t an attack on you but rather noticing how these things are commonly framed.

        • Sockie the Sock Puppet says:

          I think you’re exactly right. I’ve spent a lot of time looking through the past several Pew political typologies and one thing that has struck me is that some of the groups that have the prepondance of young people in them seem fairly center/center-right on economic issues. (And fairly retrograde on stuff like social services and safety nets.) Nothing like the Teafascists, to be sure, but to the right of what you’d consider the median liberal. Indeed, when I look at the “Post-Moderns” (who are already one of the largest types and will only get larger as the oldest groups die off) I see a lot of Bloombergian social-left/economic-right stuff going on there.

          So, yeah, if I’m working the young/old divide, I’d play down the economics as they are normally framed (aside from some inside/outside stuff) and bang on the social issues.

          • Erik Loomis says:

            Well, I’d argue student debt at the very least should be part of that discussion from an economic standpoint.

            • Sockie the Sock Puppet says:

              Just for completeness, even though this thread is likely dead:

              In this instance, I think you could construct student loan debt along inside-outside, old-versus-young lines without being necessarily economically left.

              Also, I am not advocating any of this. In my estimation, someone who won a youthquake primary victory against Clinton would probably get destroyed in the general. But it’s one of the limited ways I can see her being outflanked. I don’t think she’ll allow herself to be outflanked on economics in 2016.

          • GoDeep says:

            Younger generations are skewing “liberal-tarian” at the margin, at least nationwide. There seem to be some state-level variation in the amount of the welfare state 20-somethings & 30-somethings are willing to support. A bit more in California, a bit less in Colorado. A lot of liberals today are for gay marriage & pot but against tax hikes & the welfare state. You can do what you want, but you’re on your own doing it, so to speak.

      • GoDeep says:

        I absolutely concur, but I don’t know what Western/Midwestern Dem could be that progressive standard bearer. I think Tester might be able to talk the talk, but I’m not sure a review of his investment portfolio would pass muster w/ the Greens of the progressive coalition. Others have already ruled out Bill Richardson. Jerry Brown is too old. Maybe a Udall?

        • panda says:

          I dunno. I’ve seen polls in which young voters lean pretty hard left when it comes to equality/taxation. I think the best description is that they like welfare, but dislike the state.

          • panda says:

            And this is kinda implied in your post, but its important to understand who are the young people who are being polled. I’d guess college educated white males fit the profile you paint, college educated women not so much, minority millennial not at all, and working class white millennials are in a different place altogether.

        • joe from Lowell says:

          I have it on good authority that the Udalls are total sellouts on the environment.

        • DrDick says:

          Tester, who is my senator, is a nice guy and pretty good on social issues, but he is really pretty much a moderate rather than a progressive.

  18. Eric says:

    My observation is that it’s actually incredibly difficult to tell, a priori, whether a politician will push a progressive or centrist agenda once in office as president. Observe W. Bush – and does anybody really believe in retrospect that Edwards would have governed as the raging populist he pretended to be? I’m not doubting Warren’s progressive bona fides, just saying that the difference, if any, between her agenda and Clinton’s agenda is much more difficult to predict than their public statements or even political histories would indicate.

    Moreover, presidents are incredibly constrained by the legislative process. Competence and authority in managing a coalition is a tremendous asset, and Clinton has acquired a gravitas since 2008 that would likely serve her well in marshaling every Democratic vote. Compare that to how tempting it would be for the 50th to 55th most progressive Senators in red states to play off “that Massachusetts liberal.” A successful semi-progressive agenda would be more valuable than a failed progressive one.

    I guess I’m saying that getting the best outcomes in American politics is far more complicated than simply voting for the candidate that is closest to you on a Downsian issue space. Warren’s great. I doubt she’d produce, as president, a realized agenda that’s to the left of Clinton’s. And ultimately I think the outcome is pretty much unpredictable.

    However, I think Clinton’s clearly a MUCH stronger candidate in the general, at least this go around. And are you willing to trade a (say) 20% more progressive realized agenda for even a 10% greater chance that the Republicans win?

  19. GoDeep says:

    I don’t know that you can accurately predict the nominee this far out. HRC has acquired a lot of fans since BO nominated her for Sec’y of State, but once the primary starts all bets are off. As (Bill) Clinton said, “Republicans fall in line, Democrats fall in love.”

    There may be another candidate out there who will swoop in and sweep us off our feet. Here’s hoping at least.

  20. Brien Jackson says:

    Clinton’s present numbers are, in a word, ridonkulous. If she decides to run, only a total implosion can take the nomination from her. Barring that, it might as well have a bow and her name on it.

    • joe from Lowell says:

      So, just like November 2005?

      • panda says:

        Back then, she was a front runner, but had support below 50%, and problematic favorability numbers. Right now, her support is something in polls is about 65%, and her favorability numbers are above 70%. That is a totally different ball game.

      • Brien Jackson says:

        No, nothing like that. Her favorability ratings are markedly better now than they were at any point during the 2008 cycle.

        • panda says:

          Basically, outside the world of the internet, there is very little hunger for a non-Clinton. Something could happen between then and now to trigger that kind of a groundswell, and Schreiber is correct that logic dictates that a primary public that is way to the left of where it was in the 1990s would not want to appoint a Clinton, but facts are obstinate things.

          • Brien Jackson says:

            Yeah, as far as I can see there’s no hunger for anyone but her, and I think the non-Clinton factor from 2008 is pretty overstated anyway.

            • stepped pyramids says:

              Clinton would have had no problem in 2008 at all if she hadn’t had once-in-a-lifetime bad luck with her opponents. I don’t think anybody but Obama could have beaten her, and even that wasn’t a sure thing.

  21. joe from Lowell says:

    And as admirable as Warren is as a public figure, given that she ran 7 points behind Obama in Massachusetts whether she can appeal to a broad enough based of Democratic voters in a wide enough variety of states to pose a serious threat to Clinton is an open question.

    I suspect Warren knows this. As Schieber points out, she didn’t become a Senator because she’s an overgrown class president who has always pictured herself as President. She doesn’t look in the mirror and see the World’s Greatest Politician, Destined to Rule the World.

  22. Eli Rabett says:

    Clinton is only as strong as a candidate as her ability to get a Democratic house in 2014. She has to lay it all on the table.

  23. cpinva says:

    let me throw a wrench in all your speculalatin’*: Chelsea gets pregnant, and both bill and Hillary decide they want to spend the next few years being adoring grandparents, rather than running for office.

    *not to be confused with a speculum, which is a whole other thing!

  24. mch says:

    Coming very late with apologies for skipping others’ comments. This is all nonsense. EW isn’t thinking about running against Hillary. Silly stuff.

    And if HIllary decides not to run? Well, I haven’t calculated the age thing. But EW would need more seasoning, not just as a politician, but in so many other ways. Like on foreign policy issues. Let her be a senator, a really good senator. If there’s time, the president thing may come. But good presidents need good senators. Maybe that’s EW’s role, to help make whoever is president a better president.

    It ain’t all about the tip of some guy’s cock, aka the president.

  25. Liberal AND Proud says:

    I’m not being mysogynistic, I’m only talking politics here.

    It was a perfect political storm in 2008 that positioned a black for election to the Presidency.

    That type of “anyone but the last guy” atmosphere is not in place this time around. The country simply is not in the mood for more “historic” change this time around. The country is tired of controversy, as evidenced by the outright hatred by the political middle of the Tea Party and the GOP.

    If the Democrats run a woman this time around, they will provide the type of political opening that the GOP needs.

  26. mark seidner says:

    the Clintons are the largest Democratic money machine, period! This guarantees that it will be Hillary in 2016. Unfortunately a woman President couldn’t also have a woman Vice-President. Warren is great, and would make a great President, but wouldn’t be as effective as a fund raiser as the Clintons, and that’s pretty much all that matters now when it comes to “elections”

    Republicans in my opinion should forget about having surrogate candidates for the Koch brothers like Romney, and just run the Kochs themselves. One brother for Presidnet, and one brother for Vice President, then after two terms switch the positions, bingo 16 years of Koch Presidency!

    • joe from Lowell says:

      the Clintons are the largest Democratic money machine, period! This guarantees that it will be Hillary in 2016.

      They were the largest Democratic money machine in 2005-2008, too.

  27. mark seidner says:

    2016 won’t be 2008…
    Obama actually raised more money than Hillary in 2008.
    Plus the contest being against two women means you can’t count on identity politics helping either one.
    I personally would prefer Warren, but I surmise that fund raising is the issue that decides who primary delegates will select…

  28. Rhino says:

    I want Elisabeth Warren right where she is, until she finishes cleaning up Wall Street a little bit.

    In 2020, with an agenda of effective regulations and safeguards installed, then she can run.

  29. Lex says:

    Y’all are missing the forest for the trees here. This article, subtitled, “Catfight! Catfight!,” is just Scheiber’s audition for Politico. It has no meaning in the real world.

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