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Hillary Clinton — Good Enough to Win

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Your annual it’s-the-fundamentals-that-matter-most reminder from Jonathan Bernstein:

There are strong candidates for a presidential nomination, and Clinton is about the strongest in modern times. There can be weak general-election candidates, too. Those perceived as ideological outliers (Barry Goldwater in 1964, George McGovern in 1972, and possibly Ronald Reagan in 1980) can cost their party a few percentage points beyond what a generic Democrat or Republican would have received. It’s also possible to imagine a candidate so inept that he or she forfeits votes a generic candidate might have won — McGovern, with a mismanaged convention and a botched running-mate selection, might qualify.

But candidates who are so wonderful, whose appeal to swing voters is so strong, that they override the basic conditions of the election — the economy, war and peace, the popularity of the president, how long the incumbent party has held the White House? In the entire survey research era, the only presidential candidate who can plausibly make that claim is Dwight Eisenhower, and he just may have benefited from too many consecutive Democratic terms in office.

If the economy holds up, Clinton will probably win, and if it doesn’t any Democratic nominee would be in serious trouble.

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