Very good–as usual–discussion and analysis of Senator Hillary Clinton, her poll numbers, and the blogs at Mystery Pollster. Mark “MP” Blumenthal mentions some issues of leftblog dissatisfaction with HC and “are bloggers the people” and “who do bloggers represent” raised here at policybyblog earlier. Some key points from MP:

The primaries and caucuses are still a long way off.  Second, the overwhelming majority of Democratic identifiers and especially liberal Democrats are certainly opposed to the Iraq war.  On a recent CBS News poll most Democrats say they either want to decrease the number of US troops in Iraq (36%) or withdraw altogether (40%).  Third, adults who self-identify as Democrats are not the same as the much smaller pool of Democratic primary voters, much less the even smaller number of activists and donors. We will need larger samples of Democratic primary voters to get a handle on those populations.  Fourth and finally, these results tell us nothing about Senator Clinton’s skills as a candidate or what sort of campaign she might run, and MP is not foolish enough to make any sweeping predictions in that regard.  What we can say, for now at least, is that the recent hostility of left-leaning blogs is not evident among rank and file Democrats.

But if blogs are not “the people” in this case, MP wonders if the better question is whether blogs will ultimately prove to be opinion leaders.

Indeed, leftblogs attacks and eruptions of irritation by her own grassroots supporters at Senator Clinton’s strategies for a White House run are statistically on the fringe. But politicians and political professionals understand that wildfires on the edges of public opinion can spread to the center. Worse, activist bloggers, with their giant web soapbox can be heard by mainstream media who, hungry for new “story” on HC, might start fanning the “Clinton in trouble with leftbase” angle.

Hillary’s choices for a blog strategy.

1. Ignore the leftblogs. Assume that victories in the primaries will eventually silence her internal critics: they will come on board as it proves that she is party’s nominee and only hope for a Democratic Presidency. Problems with this strategy are that (a) bloggers are not a herd to be led (by fiat or force) wherever a politician wants, (b) it is unnatural to bloggers to shut up and get in line, and (c) while in 2004 Kerry could count on anti-Bush loathing on the left, it is not as clear that the 2008 Republican nominee (say a George Allen or John McCain) will generate as much antipathy.

2. Coopt the leftblogs. HC can–as does John Edwards–meet with leftbloggers, brief them, show (or feign) respect for them, make her case that she must attract a majority of the electorate, ask for leftblog help in the “Crusade” to retake the White House. And, in some instances, she can buy cooperation: hire any major leftblogger who will sign on as a “consultant.” Of course, as I have said, political bloggers, if one can generalize about them, tend to be honest and passionate about their ideologies. I believe they are less likely to be bought off, spun or sweettalked than, say, the average local party boss.

3. Attack the Leftblogs. An intriguing option for HC is to use (or rather abuse) leftblogs to push forward her appeal to middle voters. I speculated earlier that Hillary might even consider “Sister Souljahing” leftblogs to gain even more of a reputation as a moderate. The downsides here are obvious: a huge cyberspace blowback, but if all HC cares about are poll numbers, then, she and her advisors might decide that a sharp elbow jab to left might be symbolic proof to middle voters that her moderate views are not just electoral cant.

We shall see what develops…

Originally posted January 7, 2006 at PolicyByBlog

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