John Hood, of course there’s no way on earth for Democratic “leaders” — whom you describe as “strategists, donors, governors, and activists” — to stop Hillary. This isn’t 1960. Party leaders don’t make these decisions. Unless 500 of them were somehow to coalesce en masse behind another candidate in the next year and make a public statement that Hillary can’t win and therefore they will be supporting Tom Vilsack, party leaders can’t do anything to stop her. Nor will they. It’s likely that by this time next year, Hillary will have more endorsements among Democratic officials than any other candidate by a huge margin.
You may think they don’t like her, but you’re just wrong about that. We don’t like her, and maybe the Kossites don’t like her, but among the vast majority of Democratic voters, Hillary has a sky-high approval rating. Donors love her too. Let’s see how much money she can raise from, say, the partners at Goldman Sachs compared to how much John Edwards can raise. And as for your analysis about how independents don’t want her to run, the great Karl Rove insight about the present moment is that independent voters no longer hold the sway they once did, as the true number of independents has shrunk in presidential balloting to about 7 percent.
In any case, at some point people have to start believing the evidence of their own eyes. Nobody else in Democratic party politics is even close to her in any poll. The race is hers to lose. She can certainly do something to lose it, but she has become a very careful politician and is unlikely to get in her own way.