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

Democratic insiders who say that if she gets into the race Hillary Clinton will not win the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination:

"She has the money, but even among Democrats she is too much of a polarizing figure. Those of us in D.C. need to spend more time with Democrats in Iowa to understand."

"No—she will be the frontrunner until she gets in front of voters. After her fellow candidates spend months attacking her, one will become the 'Hillary Slayer'—but the 'slayer' may not necessarily become the nominee."

"[If she wins,] she will make us a minority party for the next generation."

"Not at this time—but depends who the Republicans put up. She is a liberal from New York and a woman. The country isn't ready to elect a woman for President who doesn't have (or isn't perceived to have) executive abilities. A woman governor could get elected now. It is really too early to tell."

"There is no way she wins."

"As the father of girls, I hope that if she wins the Democratic primary, she will be able to use her incredible political strengths to become the first woman president."

Democratic insiders who are unsure (volunteered) whether Hillary Clinton will win the 2008 Democratic presidential nominating contest:

"Yet to be seen."

"I don't know. It's too early to tell. There are too many unknown factors such as the other candidates in the field."

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

"How can Hillary walk away from history? She is a shoo-in for the nomination and at least fifty-fifty for the general election. Name me someone else who would not run under those circumstances."

"She's going to start with the same type of financial and institutional advantage that Bush had in 2000. That means she can survive a few slip-ups that would finish off her opponents. And the Democrats don't have a McCain."

"In a walk. Nobody else is close by any measurement."

"Yes, if Hillary Clinton runs I definitely believe that she will win the nomination. No one will be able to compete with her financially."

"Hillary Clinton is diving to the center so fast and hard that poor moderates like Evan Bayh and Mark Warner are getting drenched."

"Yes, but it will not be easy. Democrats don't have a strong viable alternative."

"Bet the farm on the non-New Yorker who [captured] that state's U.S. Senate seat."

"She is a man among boys."

"Hillary wins the nomination if she runs—easily."

"Hillary is the dominant national political figure—the only one who can dominate any issue she engages."

"If Hillary wants it—and she sure looks like she does—she's the odds-on favorite to run away with the nomination. If you're Kerry or Edwards, you can't make a dent and you have nowhere to go but down; you're irrelevant. A new voice will emerge to challenge her from the center, someone in the mold of Virginia's Warner."

"Hilary's power as a presidential candidate is overwhelming. Her star appeal among Democrats, combined with her ability to raise money will dwarf any other potential candidate."

"Yes, she should run. (After all, she is their strongest candidate.)"

"Hillary Clinton epitomizes the current Democrat party. But the jury is out on whether she can win the November election."

"Hillary will win the nomination: those who control the nomination process will think happy days are here again for the Democrats."

"No one on the Democratic side has the star power, the money, or the message that Hillary has. She has shown an exemplary ability to moderate her political positions. The nomination battle will be tough when the campaign swings to the South and West, but early wins in Iowa and New Hampshire will make Hillary hard to beat."

Republicans who think that if she gets into the race Hillary Clinton won't win the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination:

"I find it inconceivable that Democrats will land on a candidate as liberal and polarizing as Hillary. She will start as the frontrunner, but the real winner will come from those candidates who consistently finish second or third in the early contests. When reality sets in, one of those close seconds will emerge."

"Just as the current polling inflates many GOP hopefuls (Rudy and McCain), she is not as real as the numbers appear to suggest."

Republican insiders who are unsure (volunteered) whether Hillary Clinton will win the 2008 Democratic presidential nominating contest:

"Too soon to know."

"I am unsure whether she will win the nomination or not. Clearly, she has the celebrity appeal, but she lacks executive experience. Yes, she has been in the White House, but she was not the decision-maker."

On Hillary's hurdles ...
Republicans who say she is too liberal:

"She has done a fairly good job of positioning herself as more of a centrist in terms of the media and political elites, but every other American knows she is the left's great hope.

Being too liberal will do her in. She can't remake herself in two years; it's difficult for her to hide her true liberal beliefs. As good as she is, Clinton will slip up somewhere and remind everyone out there who she really is."

"She is too liberal [to get] any of Bush's red states to switch over."

"Perception that she's too liberal. She's answered this question during these past 100 days by tacking so conspicuously to the center."

"Too liberal— that is why she is beginning to hug the center on some issues."

"She is too liberal—no 'perception' about it."

"She is the queen of the Blue States but will be unable to reach beyond them."

"This is easy. What makes American and Democratic Party politics so interesting is that Democrats will not believe she is too liberal."

"Hillary's biggest liability is the perception that she's a liberal. She understands this, though, and has been moving toward the center for some time. Expect this tendency to accelerate and become more obvious and public. She will find her own Sister Souljah issues. And Bill's consistent counsel will be to do this. A secondary liability for Hillary will be Bill Clinton's own visibility. I assume he'll be smart enough to stay in the background, but if he does not, that would become a big problem for Hillary."

"Hillary's persona goes down differently with different people. But her political judgment is shaky, and that, in the end, could do her in. She's no desperate housewife, but her problem is that she doesn't truly understand housewives, desperate or not."

"It's a pretty close call [versus] Clinton fatigue and lack of policy experience, but the legacy of Hillary care trumps them all."

"Perceptions that she is too liberal (which are based on reality)."

"In view of her recent speech on abortion, she clearly agrees 'B' is the bigger problem. With regard to Clinton fatigue, she'll position herself as a victim and wrap up the women's vote."

"Perceptions she is too liberal—[as evinced by her positions on] large government, health care, partial-birth abortions, trial lawyers, and the right-wing conspiracy."

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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