Hillary in 2008?

James A. Barnes and Peter Bell, reporters for National Journal, regularly poll more than a hundred political insiders—selected for their campaign experience, political knowledge, and ties to key voting blocs. Recently, for The Atlantic, they asked about the presidential prospects of Hillary Clinton. A list of poll participants can be found at the bottom of this article

If she runs, will Hillary Clinton win the Democratic presidential nomination?

Yes 49 48
No 14 8
Don't know/too early to tell (volunteered) 2 2

What would be the most difficult obstacle for her to overcome as a candidate in the general election? (Pick just one.)

a) Clinton fatigue 11 7
b) Perceptions that she is too liberal 11 23
c) Her gender 9 4
d) Lack of foreign policy experience 0 0
e) Her persona 28 16

Volunteered Democratic responses: A & B (2 votes); "all of the above"; "the right wing smear"; "she has many pluses and minuses"; "her political tin ear."

Volunteered GOP responses: A & B (2 votes); B & E (2 votes); B & C; A & E; "all but C"; "her lack of executive experience."

Here are all the verbatim responses from the May 2-5 survey of National Journal's Political insiders for The Atlantic.

Democratic insiders who say that if she gets into the race, Hillary Clinton will win the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination:

"If Hillary runs Hillary wins—simple as that. She's doing all the right things, going to all the right states, building up political chits, and steering for the middle. She has to convince the 'nervous Nellies' in the party though that she's not a totally polarizing figure and that she can win the general [election]."

"She has been tested more times than Jose Canseco. I would never underestimate her. She has been to hell and back on so many things that no road she will likely ever travel will seem so hot. Still, I don't think she can win a general election. But she should run because she will make every other candidate better. If one of them beats her, he or she will be a much stronger general election candidate. If no one can beat her [in the primaries], then no one else should be the nominee."

"She is beloved in the party from the grass roots to K Street. It would take a cataclysmic failure on her part to lose the nomination."

"No one in the Democratic field can beat her—she can only lose it."

"Yes, she'll get the nomination, and she stands an excellent chance of becoming President—neither because of nor in spite of her gender, name, or background. She'll wage a smart, tough campaign. She'll face what every other Democrat would face—a divided country in need of a leader, not just someone who expects others to follow."

"Yes, and the more crowded the primary race, the better for her."

"It is a long way to the New Hampshire Primary, but as of today, there is no obstacle in her way."

"Senator Clinton will be the first woman to be a competitive Democratic contender and she will take off like a rocket. No one can stop her unless the Democratic primary process is changed to reduce the impact of front-loading."

"Yes, but not necessarily a foregone conclusion. We don't know what the issues will be by then. No one in early 2001 predicted 9/11 and how it dramatically changed the political landscape."

"Hillary would have to screw up in a big way to blow her current advantage over the rest of the field, which is unlikely."

"If Hillary runs, yes, she will be the nominee. Why? Liberal women will have to hold their noses on some of her moderate positions (for example, Iraq), because she is truly the first female presidential frontrunner in history. Enough moderates will find her palatable to make it difficult for some of the true New Democrats (Bayh, Warner, and Richardson) to differentiate themselves from her without appearing far too conservative for most Democratic activists. She'll raise more money than anybody (Kerry will do OK, and Warner has a lot of personal wealth, but neither can match Hillary). She has more name recognition than anybody who hasn't lost an election recently (Kerry, Edwards), and maybe more than those that have. She's charismatic, and has some pretty solid political advice a phone call away. In fact, if she runs, what is the compelling case others will make that she can be defeated for the nomination?"

"Strong favorite if she runs—nearly perfect pitch in the Senate thus far."

Presented by

James A. Barnes is a writer based in Washington, D.C. He is a former political correspondent for National Journal.

Peter Bell is the graphics editor for National Journal.

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