In his hilarious article on Chelsea Clinton, Kyle Smith writes that Clinton won’t run again because the donor money won’t be there. I look at the donor situation a little differently.
Trump spent less than $13 million in 2015 to set up his campaign. Like Trump, Clinton has universal name recognition and the ability to command enormous amounts of free media attention just by saying anything even remotely interesting. Clinton should be able to raise Trump-in-2015 level money easy. Heck, with all the paid speeches the Clintons have given, they should be able to front the campaign that money.
The problem is that $13 million (or even twice that) would not be enough to allow Clinton to campaign in the style to which she has become accustomed. I doubt that that, four years older, she will want to run a less scripted and more labor-intensive campaign.
I also don’t think that Clinton’s ability to open wallets for herself was her decisive advantage. I think it was more the Clinton machine’s ability to get the big money donors to close their wallets to establishment Democrats who might have wanted to challenge Hillary.
My guess is that this time, the big-money Democratic donors will be more willing to hedge their bets with multiple establishment candidates rather than be stuck in a 2016-style situation where the only alternative to the lone, ethically challenged establishment candidate was a radical outsider like Bernie Sanders.
The result of all of this is that Clinton, if she runs, will face younger and hungrier Democratic competitors while having weaker institutional and financial support than in the 2016 cycle.
She could still make a go of it, but it would probably be much more difficult to win the nomination, and she would risk embarrassing herself. It is bad enough that she is the woman who lost to Trump. The 2020 cycle will likely include several female Democratic candidates not named Clinton. Imagine if Hillary also became the woman who lost to the woman who really broke the presidential glass ceiling.