Political Wisdom: Would Hillary Have Trumped Palin?
September 11, 2008
If only it had been Hillary…Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard argues that Sen. Barack Obama would be better off right now if he’d only chosen Sen. Hillary Clinton as his running mate instead of Sen. Joseph Biden. “Obama had his reasons,” Barnes writes, “particularly his discomfort with her as his actual vice president if he’s elected. Still, Obama sacrificed a stronger ticket by rejecting Clinton.” The first thing a Hillary pick might have done is prevented Sen. John McCain from picking the rock-star-like Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.
“Okay, McCain might have picked her anyway. He was looking for a running mate who would help him shake up the campaign. And Palin has delivered spectacularly on that. But choosing her would have seemed far less of a game-changer had Obama picked Clinton.” Biden, in contrast to Palin, has “generated no enthusiasm or excitement.” A Clinton pick, Barnes says, also would have produced more party unity, would have attracted some Republican women, would have put away the big states of Ohio and Pennsylvania for Obama, and would have brought Arkansas into play.
The Washington Post’s David Broder sets the scene of the first few days of the general election, saying “an exaggerated optimism has swept through Republican ranks and an equally exaggerated gloom has infected the Democrats.” Sarah Palin has caused all sorts of excitement and the polls are showing a tied race. And while Republicans are prematurely rejoicing, what the polls really show “is that the race is still to be won, with events in the next eight weeks, including the debates, likely to determine the outcome,” Broder writes.
“The curiosity about all four is intense, which means that the learning process may go relatively quickly. But because voters know that they have until Nov. 4 to figure out their choice, those who are less partisan and more independent will take their time. They will search carefully for clues that can give them confidence that they are making the right choice. Those clues may come in displays of character, in policy promises or in endorsements by trusted sources. Informal conversations among friends and family will be as important as TV ads or the candidates’ speeches. Multiply these factors by the political geography of this 51-part election, with nearly a dozen plausible tossup states, and the uncertainty of the outcome is overwhelming. We may go well into October and not know who will be succeeding George W. Bush.”
So now, in a close race, the youth vote really does become key for Obama. Slate’s Christopher Beam looks at whether those notoriously fickle young voters really will turn out this year—and finds reasons to think they will. Among them: Voters aged 18 to 29 did show up for primaries this year. “Youth turnout in the primaries saw a huge jump over previous years. In 2000, it was roughly 9 percent of the total vote. This year, it was 17 percent.” They also showed up in greater numbers in 2006’s mid-term election. “Participation jumped 4 percent from 2002 to 2006, to the mid-20 percent range—pretty high for a midterm, especially when most young people don’t know their congressman from Ernest Borgnine.” There’s also been a big bump up in young-voter registrations among young voters this year, thanks in large measure to the Obama campaign. Oh, and there’s the Internet. “If Obama merely pokes all his Facebook friends on Election Day, for example—well, that’s 1.2 million pokes right there.”
The candidates are – supposedly – set to take a break today and come together at the site of the World Trade Center in New York City for the anniversary of 9/11. Time.com’s Michael Duffy writes about the cease-fire, saying, “Above all, call it temporary — and there’s still a chance that it won’t happen at all. (In fact, if you were in a betting mood, you might want to throw some money at the won’t-happen-at-all option.)” Still, the plan is for Obama and McCain to present a united front. Neither of them is scheduled to speak. “Perhaps this little timeout is just what everybody needs, to reassess the campaign’s trajectory — maybe even restore some class to the operation. But should peace break out between the principals, its impact would be muted unless the campaigns muzzle their packs of opposition bloodhounds, counter-punchers and surrogates who produce round-the-clock emails to supporters and reporters about their rivals’ many shortcomings,” Duffy notes. “Now there’s a proposition with long odds.”