There are about four months until the first votes are cast in the Democratic primaries for the 2008 Presidential election. Four months is a very long time in politics. Anything can happen in four months in election campaigns. However, at this point in the process, Hillary Clinton has a commanding lead in the latest polls and looks like she is about to make the actual primary process her personal coronation for the Democratic Party nomination.
Consider the latest NBC News, Wall Street Journal poll (8/1/2007) for a moment. Hillary Clinton leads her closest rival Barack Obama by a 43% to 21% margin nationally. The latest Gallop survey also has similar findings This is a huge increase from her small 36% to 31% advantage over Obama in April of this year.
Also, Clinton leads Obama by 49 to19 percent
(30 point advantage) in delegate rich California in a poll released on August 17, 2007, for the Sacramento Bee newspaper.
Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers have shown a dramatic gain since the recent CNN/Youtube debate with Barack Obama. Barack responded in the affirmative to a question about meeting American- bashing dictators by giving them an audience as President. This exposed the question of his lack of experience for Hillary to exploit and she did so very well.
Her reflection that Barack was “naïve” and would be used for propaganda purposes, underscores what most Americans believe; that Obama is a very charismatic, intelligent man who is also very inexperienced in managing domestic and foreign government affairs. Barack may well be a politician with a huge future, but he has a very limited resume of government experience in the present.
Hillary still has challenges to overcome over the next several months before she can claim the nomination from Democratic primary voters, despite her healthy lead in recent public opinion polls. Her challenges are as follows:
Barack Obama still has resources. You can never underestimate the candidate that raises the most money in any election and Barack Obama has raised more money than anyone else. He has a huge campaign war chest to use and is a new fresh face which may regain appeal to a public tired of the same old politics in Washington D.C.
Hillary Clinton has high unfavorable ratings. Despite her lead in the polls, Hillary Clinton continues to score high unfavorable numbers with Democrat voters (around 40%) and she remains a polarizing figure nationally with an unfavorable rating of forty nine percent . If she begins to trail leading Republican candidates in Presidential trial polls, Democrat voters may see her as a loser on top of their ticket.
Barack Obama leads in early primary voting states. Obama currently leads in the polls in the early primary states of Iowa and South Carolina and early victories in these primaries could give him momentum and favorable press coverage in other states.
Clinton/Bush fatigue. The country has had twenty straight years of a Bush or Clinton in the White House and may be looking at four or eight more. It’s possible at some point to begin to see fatigue with America’s two Presidential families and the voters may turn on Hillary Clinton.
Democratic Party primary voters: Recent polls show that Democratic primary voters disagree with Hillary Clinton on several of the issues. She is still defending her Senate vote to authorize an Iraq War that is very unpopular to most Democratic primary voters. Also, her belief that America is safer than prior to the 9/11 attacks is a position only twenty seven percent of Democratic primary voters agree with.
Hillary Clinton has run a very well managed campaign during the last seven months. She has raised nearly forty million dollars for her (primary election) campaign war chest during the first half of 2007, and has adroitly exploited every political opportunity while making few mistakes. She has presented herself as an able campaigner and an experienced politician. Her increased standing in every major public opinion poll reflects her campaign’s competence.
Polls can be volatile and can dramatically change before the voting in the Presidential primaries begin in January 2008. However, despite the volatility of the polls and the political challenges to come, the current view of the field of Democratic party candidates is that there are four months to go and Hillary Clinton is the show.