Clinton fanbois celebrating way too early

It is true that Hillary Clinton is the favourite to win the Democrat nomination, but could she win the presidency?

Well for a start we don’t know who the Republican candidate would be, and also there maybe a better Democrat nominee come out of the woodwork.

Hillary Clinton is not a good candidate, but the Republicans don’t have anyone much good either.

So we are left to Nate Silver for some analysis, and that isn’t promising for the fools lock stepping in behind Hillary.

There’s already plenty of bad punditry regarding the chances of Hillary Clinton — who officially announced her candidacy on Sunday — to become the 45th president. You can find Democrats boasting about their “blue wall” in the Electoral College and how hard this will make it for any Republican to win. Or Republicans warning that the Democratic Party rarely wins three elections in a row.

Most of this analysis is flimsy. So is the commentary about the ups-and-downs in early swing state polls. And when you see some pundit declaring a minor misstep to be a “game changer,” find someone else to follow on Twitter.

The truth is that a general election win by Clinton — she’s very likely to become the Democratic nominee — is roughly a 50/50 proposition.

Only 50/50…a literal toss up against an unnamed candidate from the Republicans.

The departure of Obama could hurt:

Clinton’s chances will be affected by Obama’s popularity as he exits office. The relationship between the popularity of the previous president and the performance of the new nominee from his party isn’t perfect — Al Gore (narrowly) lost in 2000 despite Bill Clinton’s popularity, for example — but it certainly matters some, especially given that Clinton served in Obama’s cabinet.

Whatever Obama does on the economy is also likely to hurt Hillary more than boost her.

Like Obama’s approval ratings, however, the performance of the American economy has been about average recently. GDP grew by 2.4 percent in 2014, adjusted for inflation, close to the historical average. Furthermore, we know relatively little about what economic growth will look like a year from now, when the general election campaign heats up. Historically, economists have shown almost no ability to predict the rate of economic growth more than six months in advance.

Now we start getting into Democrat myths…like the “blue wall”.

What about that “blue wall” — the supposed advantage that Democrats hold in the Electoral College?

Mostly, the “blue wall” was the effect of Obama’s success in 2008 and 2012, not the cause of it. If the economy had collapsed in the summer of 2012, Obama would probably have lost the election, and most of those blue states would have turned red.

It’s true that in both elections, the “tipping-point state” (in both years it was Colorado) was slightly more Democratic than the country as a whole. That implies Obama would have won if the popular vote had been very close. But it would have had to be very close indeed — within a percentage point or two.

That advantage is small enough that it might have been the result of circumstances peculiar to Obama and his campaign. If Clinton has an ever-so-slightly different coalition — say more working-class whites vote for her but fewer African-Americans — this small advantage could evaporate or reverse itself. (The Electoral College favored Republicans as recently as 2000, after all.) The same might be true if she isn’t as effective as Obama at mobilizing voters in swing states.

If Hillary is relying on that it could get difficult.

Hillary is the favourite for the Democrat nomination though, but she is vulnerable.

Hillary Clinton is extremely well-known, but her favorability ratings are now only break-even: 46 percent favorable and 45 percent unfavorable. These are nearly identical to President Obama’s ratings, which are 48 percent favorable and 46 percent unfavorable.

Clinton’s ratings are down sharply from her tenure as Secretary of State. However, as we’ve been warning Democrats for a long time, a lot of this was predictable. Clinton’s numbers have often been about break-even when she’s been a highly partisan figure — during the early stages of the 2008 campaign, for example — and better only when she’s been above the fray of day-to-day partisan politics.

There is not a lot there for Hillary Clinton to be happy about, which why she is probably playing the “time for a woman” card so hard.

– Fivethirtyeight


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