|#HillaryFunCamp - From the Indispensable People's Cube|
Clinton’s unchangeability, however, is the source of her uniqueness as a candidate: She’s a fixed point. She is who she is. And no one expects — nor would anyone really believe — any claimed character change.
Accordingly, voters’ views about her are equally immutable. The only variable, therefore, in the 2016 election lies on the other side, where the freedom of action is almost total. It all depends on who the Republicans pick and how the candidate performs.
Hillary is a stationary target. You know what you’re getting. She has her weaknesses: She’s not a great campaigner, she has that unshakable inauthenticity problem and, regarding the quality most important to getting elected, she is barely, in the merciless phrase of candidate Obama in 2008, “likable enough.”Boiled down, what he's saying is that with her name-recognition at the (his words) "papal" stage, she's basically already run for president. Everyone knows her. Everyone has an opinion. While, yeah, there may be a scandal that takes her down or some new piece of evidence, it appears she is already vetted--and scandals? Well, the one that takes her out needs to involve handcuffs because everything else has been tried.
But she has her strengths: discipline, determination, high intelligence, great energy. With an immense organization deploying an obscene amount of money. And behind that, a Democratic Party united if not overly enthusiastic.
Compare this to Scott Walker. Walker is, in The Omnivore's opinion, potentially the strongest candidate in the GOP field. He is capable of uniting the party--a for-real conservative who isn't crazy. Normal people--ordinary moderates--the big-foot-level-elusive Swing Voters--those guys? They could punch the ticket for Walker. He's no kind of embarrassment like, say, Donald Trump.
In his home state of Wisconsin, Walker trails Hillary Clinton by a 12-pt margin:
In a head-to-head matchup, Walker trailed former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton 52% to 40%. Clinton also led all the other likely Republican candidates.This begs* the question: What, exactly, is going to change here?
The Theory: The Debates!
What's going to change is Walker's name-recognition. Hillary's positives are likely immutable for Democrats--and probably largely immutable for non-Republicans. If Obama's numbers have been stationary for six years, it is hard to see what could cause a precipitous decline in a matter of months for Clinton. More banging on Benghazi?
Probably the most Red State Omnivore-Reader doesn't believe that'll help.
No, what will change is that Walker will become better known to more people. He'll get to show himself off to people who've never met him and make his case. It worked in Wisconsin--a pretty darn blue state--it can work elsewhere too.
That's Krauthammer's point: the GOP needs to introduce someone who at least balances the scales in the right way. Maybe Walker is that guy?
Maybe. Maybe not: he's now underwater in his home state where he is, one would think, pretty darn well known:
MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Gov. Scott Walker’s job approval rating has fallen to 41 percent, with 56 percent of registered voters in Wisconsin saying they disapprove of how he is handling his job as governor. In the previous poll, in October 2014, Walker’s approval among registered voters was 49 percent, with 47 percent disapproving.Now, those are over specific Wisconsin issues--after all, Walker has won election there twice--and handily. And he beat a recall attempt--but what if the trajectory of his national roll-out was less elastic than one might think? Why would that be?
Begun, These Culture Wars Have
Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of the Cook Political Report, examines the latest Pew Poll and finds cause for concern:
Pollsters have long found that many who call themselves independents are, in reality, partisans; they vote consistently for one side almost as much as those who initially say they identify with a party. When Pew combined the initial number of party-identifiers with independents' leanings, the gap in favor of Democrats stayed much the same. It peaked in 2008, with Democrats and Democratic-leaners at 51 percent to Republicans' 35 percent, but by 2010, the gap had narrowed to 47 percent for Democrats and 40 percent for Republicans. The numbers have stabilized since, with Democrats at either 48 or 49 percent in each of the last four years and Republicans at 39 or 40 percent.The gap looks like this:
More than ever, presidential politics is about something other than politics. It's about culture, identity, signaling, and symbolism. In a country of 318 million people, in which there is no shared religious conviction, no shared ethnicity, and increasingly no common culture or moral consensus about marriage and sex, and in which the burden of what is typically a nation's greatest act of collective endeavor and sacrifice (war) has been offloaded to a tiny segment of the population that voluntarily bears the burden largely out of public sight and mind — in such a centerless country, with a media culture that fixates on image, style, and symbolism, a single nationwide quadrennial election in which every adult citizen can participate has taken on existential overtones.The article is by Damon Linker and The Omnivore, with his emphasis on branding as the key element of party identification, believes this is true: if Walker adopts the GOP Brand--which he more or less must--it is entirely likely that rather than the GOP Brand becoming Scott Walker, he'll just be the GOP candidate. If he's losing right now to Hillary, it may be that since he can't change his party affiliation, he can't actually move the dial.
More than affirming his or her ideology or policy proposals, we want to be able to look at a presidential candidate and say: "That's me. That's who I am. That's how I see America."
In other words: if Blue beats Red today, the way to fix that may not be with a good candidate, as Krauthammer says--but with a massive, national re-branding exercise--which is not what the 2016 elections will be.
It's a sobering thought.
Of course things aren't that simple. The right candidate--a very charismatic one--can, in fact, re-brand a party: we saw that with Reagan. We saw that with Obama (Obama's candidacy was not the evolution of Dukakis and Kerry, after all). Could it happen with Walker? Maybe? Rubio? More likely (he seems more organically charismatic--we'll see).
But this--and not the platform, the ideas, or, to a degree, even the normal differentiators the candidates adopt will be what determines the election (that, and, well, scandals and other Black Swan events, of course--if Hillary is arrested for some reason, that will change the game). On the other hand, if Walker just runs as the GOP candidate--if he plays to the base--if he trudges towards the middle?
That isn't going to change how people feel about Clinton. It might not move the dial at all.
* Yes, yes, you philosophy-twit: it ought to be poses. Feel better?