The original title was: “HILLARY’S STEALTH NOMINATION COUP?”
I have posted here [updated recently] (and here, here, and here) on Senator Clinton and the blogs. This present essay is not blog-related per se, but it does suggest that Hillary is taking a very traditional approach to a possible presidential bid in 2008: solidify key constituencies (African-Americans) and project a moderate image for the middle class white voter.
Curious but true: If the primaries were held today, HC would sweep the south; if the election were held today, HC would lose every southern state (save perhaps Florida). See post by MysteryPollster.
Earlier I speculated on what was her blog-strategizing options. I even asked if she might decide to take yet another page from her husband’s playbook and “Sister Soujah” the leftblogs! As of now Political blogs play little or no role in her campaign–save as leftflank antagonists. [See also here]. Is this an “ignore the blogs” strategy?
See comment on the National Journal’s BeltwayBlogroll.
Let’s see what develops!
BATON ROUGE, LA. – As of now, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) of New York is the front-runner for her party’s nomination for president in 2008 in fundraising, name recognition, and poll numbers. But under the radar of public and press, the contest could tilt even more in her favor.
The Democratic National Committee will vote in February on whether to accept a recommendation by one of its special commissions to insert one or two new first-tier caucuses and new primaries based on “criteria [of] racial and ethnic diversity; geographic diversity; and economic diversity including [labor] union density.”
On the assumption that she were to run, this change could prove to benefit a 2008 Clinton presidential campaign by positioning “safe” Clinton states immediately after Iowa and New Hampshire. As history attests, Bill Clinton established himself as a front-runner even after losing both Iowa and New Hampshire in 1992 by winning Southern states with huge African-American Democratic bases. Similarly in 1984, Walter Mondale’s campaign was saved by victories in Georgia and Alabama after Gary Hart’s strong second place in Iowa and upset win in New Hampshire.
The move proposed by the DNC is cleverly and credibly positioned as a plea toward “diversity.” For several generations in the arcane procedures of presidential nomination races, there have been two distinctive standouts: Iowa and New Hampshire. The first-in-the-nation caucus and the first-in-the-nation primary possess disproportionate power in media attention, campaign spending, and candidate time.
A perennial challenge to the dominance of the Little Big States is the envy of much larger states whose political leaders feel that their states better represent the party and the nation as a whole. Certainly, Democratic voters in Iowa tend to be less diverse in several demographic categories than, say, the electorate of Florida or Michigan. But opponents of the present system have failed to make any changes because they could not agree on which state would take the lead in any new rank order of primary contests and they fear the wrath of its present beneficiaries.
The proposed scheduling change reflects the desire of a number of Democrats, such as members of the Congressional Black Caucus, to follow Iowa with “diversity” states such as South Carolina, which has a large black population, or perhaps another state that has a larger Hispanic population.
Good deed activism aside, however, a complicated stealth proxy is at work on behalf of the probable future Clinton campaign for president. Despite her bulging war chest and survey numbers, she is vulnerable. In a hard-fought campaign, the many negatives associated with her husband’s tenure might begin to tell. Also, she is currently experiencing a wildfire revolt on her left flank with activists and left bloggers unhappy at the senator’s moderate and even conservative positions on issues such as an anti-flag- burning amendment and the war in Iraq.
Her best hope for the nomination race is to blow out all competition early. And her greatest bulwark is her high level of support from black Americans and black Democratic officials. Bill Clinton was famously dubbed America’s “first black president,” and this two-way attachment was reflected when he won Georgia, South Carolina, and many Super Tuesday states where African-Americans make up a huge percentage or even a majority of the voting Democratic base. As newsman Jim Lehrer put it in ’92, Clinton, after a string of early losses, came “back from the dead … with a lot of black votes.”
Hillary Clinton’s assertion that the House of Representatives “has been run like a plantation, and you know what I’m talking about” to the worshippers at a black church in Harlem during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, however controversial in mainstream media, was simply an attempt to personalize her own credentials with her inherited base. So was her support of “faith-based initiatives” while in Boston recently speaking at a fundraiser for religious charities headed by a black minister.
With such goodwill among a key Democratic constituency, the senator hopes for what sports fans know as a “three-peat” of the Clinton “southern” election strategies of ’92 and ’96. If Senator Clinton were to suffer an early reverse, it would be to her advantage that Democratic Party leaders build some friendly firewalls between and after the contests in the Hawkeye and the Granite states.
The current period of seeming campaign doldrums has been called “the invisible primary” because of the lack of press and public scrutiny relative to the frenzy of the formal campaign season. But key political players are making decisions now that may narrow the selection of our next president. We all must pay attention to who is altering the rules of the game and why. The proposed changes to the nomination race schedule are reasonable and respectable, but the process itself – who backs the changes and why – deserves wider debate.
If you want to comment on this article, please do so below and but also go to the letters portal at CSM (they want their mail about contributions to go directly to them).
UPDATE: More news from Hotline (paywall) about the Democratic primary calendar:
“PRIMARY CALENDAR: In Search Of A Little Straight Talk”
Last week, “it leaked” that DNC Chair Howard Dean “appears to be endorsing a plan that dilutes the impact of the NH primary” (See “On Call”). Now, NH Dem chair Kathy Sullivan “of all people” is “questioning her loyalty to the national party.” Sullivan says DNC chief of staff Tom McMahon told her the letter “was not an endorsement” of the nomination commission’s proposal “to place one or two” caucuses between IA and NH. “Given the wording of the letter, that’s debatable.” But the “content” of the letter “is not what angered Sullivan.” It’s that she “as a member of the rules committee and the state chair has yet to receive a copy from the DNC” and “first learned of it” when contacted by The Hotline on 1/28.
Originally posted January 30, 2006 at PolicyByBlog