06 January 2008

Unloved, Unelectable

These are some exciting times. We may be witnessing one of the biggest political collapses in American history. And we're just getting started.

While Saturday night's debate was largely a yawner, it served as a reminder how damaged and wounded Hillary Clinton is. And she's digging herself into a deeper hole.

The debacle in Iowa -- a third-place finish for the candidate of "inevitability" -- was not met with serious soul-searching and a much-needed change in strategy. Instead, Hillary's camp lashed out, at the voters. Her spokesman dismissed the caucus result by suggesting that one shouldn't "extrapolate" too much out of 230,000 people.

Right, when you lose, just dis the voters and tell them how their vote really don't mean jack.

But that statement, made on the plane ride from Iowa from New Hampshire, was mere prelude to the continuing slide. Lacking any sort of political nimbleness her husband was blessed with, Hillary plodded ahead with what didn't work. Juxtaposing that she's the agent for change and the one with Beltway experience, Hillary's message amounted to a big "huh?"

Make no mistake, Clinton will fight on, because she doesn't know any other way. It probably won't do any good, though, because there is one thing that she cannot overcome.

People simply don't like her.

Thousands of political science papers have been written over the past 100 years -- including by yours truly -- on models that allegedly might predict outcomes of presidential elections. But the most tried-and-true is this one: Assholes don't win. (Pardon the language)

The last Asshole to occupy the Oval Office was Richard Nixon, and we all know how that turned out. But even Nixon was elected twice against candidates less likeable than he was (as hard to believe as that is). The last presidential contest won by the less likeable guy was Truman over Dewey in 1948, and that was one big upset.

Check out this list:

2004 Bush > Kerry
2000 Bush > Gore
1996 Clinton > Dole
1992 Clinton > Bush I
1988 Bush I > Dukakis
1984 Reagan > Mondale
1980 Reagan > Carter
1976 Carter > Ford (?)
1972 Nixon > McGovern
1968 Nixon > Humphrey
1964 Johnson > Goldwater
1960 Kennedy > Nixon
1956 Eisenhower > Stevenson
1952 Eisenhower > Stevenson

Pretty unbeatable trend, huh? The only one that's slightly in question was 1976. But Ford was Asshole-by-Association. His pardon of Nixon doomed his chances in a close election against Carter.

Hillary is an Asshole (and I'll spare her the B-word in fear of being labeled a sexist). If she were nominated, she will be instantly less likeable than anybody the Republicans might come up with, save maybe Rudy Giuliani. The Democrats, sick of being out of power for eight years, know this. At the end of the day, they are having a hard time putting forth a candidate who generates nothing but contempt for a large part of the electorate.

On the other hand, Barack Obama is likeable to the n-th degree. Leave out his dyed-in-the-wool liberal credentials for a moment, what's not to like about the guy? He's multi-cultural in the best sense of the word. He's glib, charming, sincere and sunny. All qualities in short supply for Hillary.

Does that mean Obama will win the general election if he's nominated? No, not necessarily. But if history is any indication, he's a much better bet than Hillary Clinton. And the Democrats, to their credit, are putting their chips on Obama.


Anonymous said...

This is one interesting post. I must admit I've never thought about likalility in voting for President. You might have something there.

ugandachik said...

Another test: Watch the 2 candidates with the volume off. Obama appears friendly and earnest. Clinton appears angry and not a little scary.