Conventional wisdom among pundits and political commentators has dictated that Hillary Clinton is a shoe-in not only for the 2016 Democratic Nomination but for the White House as well. She is polling ahead of her presumptive GOP challengers and is not far removed from her very close race with Barack Obama in 2008. While Republicans will be chomping at the bit to hold her feet to the fire for mistakes that occurred during her tenure as Obama’s Secretary of State, Democrats may be starting to second guess her Presidential viability.
There is no doubt Hillary has been positioning herself for a Presidential run ever since releasing her new book, ‘Hard Choices’, and going on tour to promote it. Despite reportedly receiving a $14 million advance, her book sales have been surprisingly low. Hillary may be suffering from overexposure. She was extremely involved in the 2014 Midterm election cycle but the result was not what she anticipated. She campaigned for 10 Senate candidates and only 3 of them won. In the 11 governor races she was involved in, only 5 of her candidates won. There are certainly other mitigating factors involved but it is important to note that the majority of these races were either very tight or the Democrat was favored. It does not appear that she moved the needle for anyone.
The Clinton political machine seems to not be intimidating Republicans and although it may just be political posturing, the GOP leadership has been vocal about not being afraid of a Clinton candidacy. RNC Chair Reince Preibus went so far as to say that he hopes Republicans have the chance to run against Hillary. Reince has every reason to be confident after Tuesday’s referendum election against President Obama, but he is surely reading the same polls the pundits are that show Hillary comfortably ahead of the top GOP brass. This hasn’t stopped him and prominent GOP presidential contender Rand Paul from essentially daring her to run.
The problem that Democrats face is that they have backed themselves into a corner with all of the Hillary talk over the past year. They don’t appear to have anyone else waiting in the wings ready to assume the spotlight the way Obama did in 2008. Paul Begala, a political consultant and long-time Clinton ally, believes that if Hillary decides not to run, Democrats don’t have anyone on the bench ready to step in. Fellow commentator, Van Jones, who served in the Obama administration, doesn’t think Hillary has what it takes to excite the base. Her lackluster book sales and unsuccessful midterm campaigning could surely be interpreted as evidence of that.
The status of Hillary’s overall health has been circulating in the media over the past couple of years. No one really knows the exact details of Hillary’s previous illnesses and how serious the medical emergency was that forced her to miss a Benghazi hearing in 2012. There has been speculation that she has serious heart problems but that has been denied by those around her. Even if Hillary is 100% healthy, at age 67, she is surely aware of the physical and mental tolls another Presidential campaign would entail.
Clearly Hillary Clinton will be a formidable candidate if she decides to run and outside of Elizabeth Warren and maybe Joe Biden, there don’t seem to be a lot of other worthy candidates on the Left. However, Hillary’s plateau in popularity and the lack of excitement she has been generating on the campaign trail points to the possibility that running away with the 2016 Presidential election may not be in the cards.
-Andrew Mark Miller