David Weigel’s cover piece in the American Conservative goes well with today’s post about Hillary Clinton’s ironclad ceiling and floor in opinion polls. Antipathy for Hillary can only take the Republican candidate so far; any winning campaign is going to require a popular agenda.
My only quibble is that I suspect some indicators are more reliable measures of waning Hillary hate than others. Weigel cites the bountiful early fundraising of Giuliani and Rick Lazio in their Senate bids against Hillary Clinton in 2000, compared to relatively anemic Republican fundraising today. But Giuliani and Lazio (in succession) each presented himself as “the Hillary Slayer”; now we have four, five, six, or more men competing for that title, and dividing anti-Hillary money among them.
(Thinking out loud: Have any of those who strongly dislike Hillary donated to Obama?)
Weigel also cites the National Republican Senatorial Committee having lousy luck with fundraisers with a Hillary theme this cycle. Yes, but NRSC spent a bundle helping Lincoln Chafee defeat conservative Stephen Laffey in 2006, irking the conservative grassroots no end. Between certain high-profile Republican senators sponsoring the immigration deal and national punchline Larry Craig, I imagine the NRSC has had a challenging sell this cycle.
Beyond that, I’m less worried about the slow sales of anti-Hillary books (there is such a thing as market saturation; I count about 50 on this list) than on poll numbers. Weigel quotes pollster Scott Rasmussen as saying that at least 45 percent of Americans don’t like Clinton personally. If that number drops, it’s a much bigger indicator.
Having said all that, a campaign based mostly on loathing of the other side’s candidate tends to fall short. Ask John Kerry.