Stop Kidding Yourselves, Media. The Midterms Are Not Good News for Hillary Clinton.
Remember how the media often covers major events through the lens of, “but what does this mean for Obama?” Out of all the possible angles or ways to frame a story, national press habitually views major events, legislative fights, foreign-policy crises, and national controversies as if they’re all plot twists in an episode of The West Wing and particularly good or bad turns of fortune for the president — as opposed to how these events impact the nation as a whole.
Get ready for two years of, “But what does this mean for Hillary?”
The Washington Post: “Why the Senate GOP takeover might actually help Hillary Clinton”
Yahoo: “How Hillary Clinton Won the 2014 Midterms”
Part of that Yahoo piece:
In the last six elections, 18 states (plus Washington, D.C.) have voted for the Democratic candidate every single time.
This means that Clinton, assuming she’s the nominee, will start out with 242 electoral votes in 2016; she’ll need only 28 of the remaining 183 tossups to win the election.
Yes, but that was every bit as true before the midterm elections as it is today. That doesn’t make her the winner, as the headline asserts.
Let’s get something clear: Watching your party get stomped like a narc at a biker rally* in a midterm election is not something that helps a party’s presidential frontrunner. In theory, the Republicans’ belly-flopping in the 1998 midterms helped convince a lot of GOP thinkers that the next nominee had to have no tie to Washington or Congress, which helped set the stage for George W. Bush. But it’s not like a good midterm election for the GOP that year would have ruined Bush’s odds of winning the nomination or the presidency.
America is not happy with Washington, and it is particularly furious with the Obama administration and Democratic-party governance as a whole. Republicans are now governors of 31 states. There really isn’t a way to interpret that as a vast, national yearning for “President Hillary Clinton.”
Looking back at the past four cycles — 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 — we see a coalition of African-Americans, Hispanics, young voters, gays, and single women that comes out in droves in the years Obama is atop the ticket . . . and doesn’t come out in any other circumstance so far. Will those groups come out in huge numbers for Hillary Clinton? It’s an open question. Perhaps the single women and gays do, but the African-Americans and Hispanics don’t. The Millennials seem particularly iffy.
Does the Democratic base come out just in presidential years? Or just in presidential years with a rock-star, pop-culture celebrity candidate like Obama? Or just for Obama himself? If you know the answer to that question, you know who will win in 2016.
Whether she likes it or not, Hillary’s odds of election are tied greatly to how the country feels about the current president. If he’s thriving — with a Republican Congress — maybe she’ll be able to run as the natural successor. But, more likely, if there’s gridlock, she’ll have to either explicitly run against his vetoes, creating more tension within the parties, or agree with them and become a vote to continue the status quo of gridlock.
GOP adviser Stuart Stevens, the chief strategist for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, said the notion that an all-Republican Congress is good for Clinton will not bear out.
“I don’t buy it,” he said, because Congress will pass legislation that Obama will then veto, and that will not leave Clinton much running room. “What’s she going to say? ‘I would have vetoed it, too, so I’m going to be the third term of Barack Obama’?”
It’s possible — in fact, pretty likely — that two years from now, voters are disappointed, frustrated, or angry with the results of a government run by President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker John Boehner. How that translates to a national appetite for Hillary Clinton isn’t quite clear. She’s old, a Washington fixture since 1993, a thoroughly uncreative policy thinker, closely tied to both the D.C. Establishment and Wall Street, and a key player in an administration foreign policy in a world on fire.
In other words, there’s an excellent chance that 2016 is yet another year where the American electorate wants change — and it’s going to be exceptionally difficult for her to position herself as the candidate of change.
She did benefit from 2014 in one way, however.
Maryland electing Larry Hogan their next governor — by 5 points! — ruins the presidential ambitions of Martin O’Malley. But you know what had already ruined the presidential ambitions of Martin O’Malley? Martin O’Malley.
*Thank you, Dennis Miller.