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

Democrats who say her gender:

"Her gender—but only because she doesn't have executive experience."

"Let's be honest. Senator Clinton has all the problems listed. Some are real, and some are perceived. As Ted Kennedy was from 1972 to 1988—the presumptive nominee carrying the biggest negatives—Senator Clinton will be in 2008."

Democrats who say her persona:

"Hillary is too much of an established and polarizing personality. The only two Republicans Clinton could defeat are Tom Delay and Newt Gingrich."

"By 2008 Hillary may have enough time to remake herself—America has a very short memory—but if not, her persona hurts her. Mean, enabling, and in denial are not normally traits we like to see in our presidential candidates. Also, while many people will say they could vote for a woman, but just not this woman, they will be lying. Many Americans won't vote for any woman although that wall is rapidly crumbling."

"She's got most of Bill's negatives without his personality. People want the Clinton brain and heart."

"Her persona—she is a highly polarizing figure and may have difficulty attracting voters outside the Democratic base, voters she cannot win without."

"One question: do people trust her? If George Bush can play a shell game with WMDs, rely on faulty intelligence, run up the deficit while proclaiming to be a fiscal conservative, compromise the judiciary with controversial appointments, promote an energy policy that no one believes in, hold no one accountable for 9/11, undermine our alliances, and advocate tax breaks for the wealthy, then it is fair to say that the trust issue is up for grabs and certainly Hillary has a shot."

"Her persona—in her First Lady days and in 1992, we saw a Hillary Clinton who, under pressure, came across as unlikable and sometimes shrill. The other candidates need a long and protracted process to expose that Hillary Clinton."

"Americans loved Bill Clinton—will they love Hillary? Maybe not, but it is [also] hard to fall in love with Pataki or most of the Republican candidates."

"Her persona—which includes elements of Clinton fatigue, her gender, the perception that she is too liberal, etc.

"Persona beats the others. Some people are capable of adjusting their image as years progress. She, however, will never be able to completely [distance] herself from the woman people remember during her husband's years in office.

"It will be most difficult for Hillary to overcome her persona, or more accurately, the caricature of her created by years of right-wing media."

"Although she is bright, talented and extremely capable of handling the job, Senator Clinton has the burden of being poised to run after John Kerry. Kerry has probably soured many Democrats on Northeastern, elite intellectuals leading our party. We need someone who can relate and speak to middle-class Americans who agree with Democrats on the issues but are uncomfortable with them socially."

"I believe that Hillary is bright enough and smart enough to do the job and then some, but I do not believe this nation is ready to vote for Hillary Clinton. It is too bad—but true—that her spouse's issues still spill over onto her. On Bush, I do think that his Social Security proposals are going nowhere and his attempt to take this last package on the road is dead on arrival."

"Her persona—she has become a caricature of the liberal politician, even though it is probably not deserved."

"Her persona, but that's really an excuse for she's too liberal, too Clinton, too tough for a woman, too calculating, too ambitious (all of which translates to she's a girl not a boy).

The American people demand a certain gut level connection with their president and she has not developed that with much of Middle America, particularly in the fly-over states.

This poll was sent to one hundred thirty-one "political insiders" who regularly answer questions on politics for National Journal. One hundred twenty-four responded. The names of all 131 panelists are listed below.

DEMOCRATIC INSIDERS (67): Karen Ackerman, David Axelrod, Dave Beattie, Mike Berman, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Deb Callahan, Joseph Cari Jr., Bill Carrick, Tony Coelho, Jim Craig, Jerry Crawford, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, Monica Dixon, Anita Dunn, Steve Elmendorf, Eric Eve, Vic Fazio, Scott Ferson, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Gina Glantz, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Michael Gronstal, Marcia Hale, Laura Hartigan, Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, Steve Jarding, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Celinda Lake, Jeff Link, Bill Lynch, Ellen Malcolm, Steve Marchand, Paul Maslin, Terry McAuliffe, Caroline McCarley, Gerald McEntee, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Steve Murphy, David Nassar, Tom Ochs, Tom O'Donnell, John Podesta, Bruce Reed, Steve Ricchetti, Susan Rice, Sheila McGuire Riggs, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, John Ryan, Wendy Sherman, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Mike Veon, Rick Wiener, and JoDee Winterhof.

REPUBLICAN INSIDERS (64): Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Wayne Berman, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Jeff Boeyink, Jeff Buley, Nick Calio, Jim Cicconi, Jake Corman, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Rick Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Debi Durham, Frank Fahrenkopf, Don Fierce, Alex Gage, David Girard-diCarlo, Bill Greener, Lanny Griffith, Doug Gross, Steve Hart, Chris Henick, Clark Judge, David Kensinger, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris Lacivita, Jim Lake, Chuck Larson, Steve Lombardo, Mary Matalin, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Stephen Moore, Mike Murphy, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Tony Perkins, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, Dave Rehr, Steve Roberts, David Roederer, Ed Rogers, Tony Rudy, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Rick Shelby, Don Sipple, Fred Steeper, Warren Tompkins, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Dave Winston, and Ginny Wolfe.

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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