Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hillary's Slot

So now we have a little irrelevant but time-passing, pixel-occupying boomlet about how Hillary Clinton polls the same high-forties-ish numbers in hypothetical matchups with Republicans from Rudy, Fred, and Romney all the way down to Ron bleeping Paul.

Leaving aside the operative adjective in this premise - "hypothetical" - which renders the entire notion moot is something that The Incontrovertibly Neato Jim Geraghty and Patrick Ruffini were incapable of making themselves do:
Patrick sees Hillary's inability to get over 50% even against as weak a candidate as Ron Paul as good news. It means that we are "back to the 50-50 divide that marked our politics from 2000-2006. Basically, Republicans can run a stuffed animal against Hillary and still get 48% of the vote." Further, in Patrick's view, "Hillary not breaking 50% against a guy who wants to abolish the Federal Reserve is a leading indicator of her fundamental weakness in the general election."
It was left for Brother Deacon to point out the obvious caveat to Ruffini's gushing optimism:
In many of the head-to-head polls, 10% or more of the respondents say they are undecided. Thus, for Hillary to be at 46-48% isn't bad for her.
Particularly since the only 'Pubbie to "beat" her in these prospective matchups was Giuliani, and then only by a couple of points, well within the margin of error.

Personally I see zero value in polling matchups that don't exist yet and won't for at least another three months. Ditto all these numbers purporting that Mrs. Clinton has intractibly high negatives. Once she officially has the Donk nomination in her purse, and the Enemy Media goes to work building her up as a bizarro hybrid of Mother Teresa, Rambo, and Afrodite rising naked from the ocean surf, while ripping the GOP survivor into random fragments of biomatter for the former first lady to gnaw on for the ensuing nine months, her polling numbers will blast through her supposed "cast iron ceiling" like it was tinfoil.

But if you want to take the more optimistic route and claim that she'll stay in the mid to high forties, allow me to remind you of the ingredient that always accompanies Clinton elections: a strong third candidate. Bill Clinton never did better than 49% in either of his elections, thanks to one H. Ross Perot, whose second run in 1996 as much as confirmed the "divide & conquer" strategy. Perot is (presumeably) gone from the political stage, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg may be backpedaling from a presidential run, but allow me to remind you of the name that I have always believed will be the spoiler in 2008: John "Sailor" McCain. The Arizona "maverick" has considered the Republican nomination to be his birthright ever since George W. Bush had the temerity to shove him out of the way in 2000. It's why he made himself an iconoclastic pariah in the GOP ever since, it's why he's running this cycle when it's clear that he's too old and his day is past, and it's why he'll bolt the party next year after he's denied the nomination a second time to ensure that if HE can't be president of the United States, NO Republican will. That vintage line about being "tied up" during Woodstock notwithstanding.

Either way, the once and future Miss Rodham is, indeed, "virtually unbeatable." And in my humble opinion, you can remove that modifier. Nobody ought to need dunselesque polling hypotheticals a year in advance to recognize that bitter handwriting on the wall.