UPDATE, FEB. 12: Since I posted this, the "electability" issue is growing, and there's new data confirming that Obama's electability edge over Clinton just keeps growing. For more recent posts, please visit VichyDems home page and start surfing, or click to the specific posts here, here, and especially here. Thanks!
Let me tell you about my mom, who's a nurse. My mom is (a) extremely smart, (b) very hard working, and (c) has excellent gut instincts about people. She's also (d) a die-hard and lifelong Republican, daughter of lifelong Republicans, granddaughter of lifelong Republicans; (e) not as well educated as she deserves, and (f) a sucker, at least temporarily, for conservative bumper-sticker slogans and policies that sound idealistic but really work against her own best interests.
In other words, she's a great litmus test for what the average American voter is thinking.
I wasn't surprised two days ago when she told me that she hates Hillary with a passion, thinks McCain is much more moderate than liberals believe and would be a good President, and she'd absolutely vote for McCain over Hillary.
I was surprised when she added that she hopes Obama gets the Democratic nomination, because she'd vote for him over McCain.
That, in a nutshell, is why we need to nominate Obama: people like my mother, who will never vote for Hillary, will vote for him. And people like my mother are precisely the ones that matter -- like the Democrats who voted for Reagan in 1980, there are Republicans who will vote for Obama in 2008. Hillary, on the other hand, won't swing a single Republican vote.
And, of course, if Obama can swing Republicans, he certainly can win Independents -- which is what the polls are showing, too: Independents significantly prefer Obama to Hillary.
Polls also show Obama beating McCain in the general election, and Hillary losing to him. The most recent poll, released by ABC/The Washington Post today, reveals:
LOOK AHEAD -- It's still early for a look ahead to November, but current preferences indicate close contests between McCain and either Clinton or Obama; against Romney the two Democrats -- and especially Obama -- start with more of an edge.
Among the general public overall, it's a 49-46 percent McCain-Clinton race and a 46-49 percent McCain-Obama race; those 3-point differences are not enough to constitute a lead for either McCain vs. Clinton or Obama vs. McCain, given sampling tolerances. Clinton-Romney standings are 53-41 percent, Obama-Romney, a wider 59-34 percent.
McCain would beat Hillary by 3 points; Obama would beat McCain by 3 points. And three points is within the "sampling tolerances." But look behind those numbers: the important statistic is that Obama performs six points higher than Hillary in a matchup against McCain.
Six points. Think the general election is going the be within six points? Think the no-paper-trail Diebold touchscreen voting machines can alter the outcome by six points? Do you think, maybe, that we should choose the candidate (Obama) who has a built-in six point advantage over the likely opponent (McCain) compared to the other candidate (Clinton)? And the Clintons (Hillary and Bill) have been running a negative campaign against Obama; think his stock will rise even further with the general electorate when other Democrats stop attacking him and line up behind him instead?
Let's set aside policy differences and think big picture. Seven of the nine sitting Supreme Court justices were appointed by Republicans. Even if we count Ford appointee John Paul Stevens as a "liberal" -- a label he himself rejects -- he turns 88 next month, and at least one of the two Democrats almost certainly will retire next term. We can't afford to have a Republican -- any Republican -- in the White House next term, if only so that the last two Democrats on the Court can be replaced by other Democrats (and Roe v Wade, which currently is one vote away from being overturned, can retain its validity).
If we want a Court with any Democrats at all -- if we believe in women's privacy -- if we want change of any kind -- then we need a Democrat in the White House. And if that's the bottom-line goal, no one who's watched the last few Presidential elections can honestly think we can afford to throw away six points. Is Hillary electable? No. Is Obama electable? Yes. Q.E.D.
UPDATE, FEB. 3 9:43 PM PACIFIC:
Obama shows even stronger against McCain according to the Zogby poll released today:
Looking at the general, McCain leads Clinton in California, 45-43%. That is NOT a good sign for her electability. Obama leads McCain 47-40%.
Or, as James Carville might have told Bill Clinton if he were still a good guy: it's the electability, stupid.
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