A Clinton Strategy Memo: Annotated

To: Interested Parties

From: Mark Penn, Chief Strategist

Date: July 9, 2007

Re: After 6 Months

I'm very interested. This isn't an "internal" memo; it was sent to an external audience consisting of the hundreds of thousands of Clinton supporters who have signed up receive e-mail from the campaign.

With two quarters of 2007 behind us and just 6 months to go until the Iowa caucuses it is a good time to see where Hillary stands and why.

Fair premise, but consider that such a memo would not have needed to be sent if the campaign believed that the right premises -- i.e., those laid out in this memo -- were the cornerstones of conventional wisdom.

The bottom line? Hillary’s electoral strength has grown in the last quarter and she is better positioned today than ever before to become the next President of the United Sates. Recent polls have her at or near 40% with leads of 15-20 points over her nearest competitors. Voters yearn for change and they say that Hillary has the strength and experience to actually bring about that change. Hillary’s message: that her strength and experience will bring real change that America needs, is resonating strongly with voters.

The chicken-and-egg question: does Feb. 5 mean that national polls matter more? Do they oversample independents (and thus distort Barack Obama's strength among independents one way or the other)? Is she winning among those who are paying attention? Is her national base larger than her state-based base?

Despite unprecedented early publicity for all the candidates, Hillary’s support in the last few months has strengthened nationally, in key states and in the general election. This improvement has occurred as voters have learned more about all of the candidates. In other words, as all the candidates’ name ID’s have increased, so has Hillary’s lead.

The Clinton campaign likes to argue that Sen. Barack Obama is as well known as a Democratic nominee, and therefore that his personality alone isn't sufficient to move the polls in states. The Obama campaign responds that while many Democrats know Obama by name and by broad reputation, they know very little about his life story, personal qualities, and message. The more those qualities are filled in, argue the Obama advisers, the better Obama will do.

Also: "key states" here means New Hampshire, and some incremental progress in Iowa. In some public polls, Clinton lags behind Obama in South Carolina. She is leading in Nevada and in Florida, although Obama and Edwards might try to skip that state.

So far the debates have been the key moments where the voters get to see all the candidates side by side and they have shown just how ready Hillary is to be president and how she has the strength and experience to make change happen. She won the debates overwhelmingly and they are a key indicator of how this race will play out in the next 6 months and in the general election. There will be another debate every month from now until the end of the year, and each debate provides Hillary with another opportunity to demonstrate her experience, talk about her record on the issues, and show voters why she is the person best qualified to be president.

Here is the crux of the argument: Clinton's debate domination, the Clinton argument says, is a better indicator of how these candidates will stack up when compared to each other in front of an engaged audience. How many people watched the debates? How many people watched news coverage about the debates? Enough of a sample to make the conclusion that Penn makes?

In the latest Newsweek poll, which fielded after the 2nd quarter fundraising numbers were released, Hillary's lead in the Democratic primary nearly doubled from 12 points in May to 23 points now. Hillary's favorability has risen to 57% among all Americans, and they say overwhelmingly she has the experience to be a good president (70%). Nearly two-thirds say there is a good chance or some chance they will vote for her (62%). http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19623564/site/newsweek/

She is fundamentally strong. One key indicator of strength is among those voters who have a fairly good impression of her (as opposed to a very good or neutral/worse impression), Clinton does the best among all the Democratic candidates. This is a boast from Penn, but the underlying metrics back up his contention.

In the general election, Hillary leads top Republican Rudy Giuliani by seven points (51 percent to 44 percent) in the last Newsweek poll, up from just three points a month ago. The next closest Democrat leads Giuliani by only five points (49 percent to 44 percent), down from seven points in May. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19373524/site/newsweek/ In fact, Hillary leads Giuliani in all the latest national polls – CNN, Fox, Gallup, Newsweek, NBC/Wall Street Journal, Quinnipiac and Cook/RT Strategies. And Hillary is tied or ahead of Giuliani in key battleground states which Democrats lost in both 2000 and 2004, including Florida, Ohio http://www.quinnipiac.edu/images/polling/sw/sw06272007.doc and West Virginia. http://www.wvmetronews.com/index_forsub.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=19789

Obama also leads these guys, and in some polls, Edwards does too. But as Penn will admit, general election polls mean very little right now.

Democratic Primary

As observers like Charlie Cook have pointed out, Hillary has the coalition of support (women, strong Democrats, lower, middle-income and working families, Hispanics and African-Americans) that has traditionally won Democratic primaries. http://govexec.com/dailyfed/0707/070307op.htm The profile of voters supporting other contenders, according to Cook, resembles the "support profiles of Gary Hart in 1984, Paul Tsongas in 1992 and Bill Bradley in 2000. The numbers are splashy and significant but not sufficiently broad-based to capture a nomination."

Maybe. The caveat here is that elite educated voters tend to pay attention earlier; Clinton might lead among core Democrats because of the same factors that produced her "inevitability" quotient in the first place.

Hillary's support is highest among key voter groups who make up the core of the Democratic coalition: women, Hispanics, African-Americans, strong Democrats and lower, middle-income and working families. Her lead in the Democratic primary widens to 29 points among non-whites. The latest Gallup http://www.galluppoll.com/content/?ci=28000 and CBS polls http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/062907_campaign.pdf confirm the extraordinary enthusiasm for Hillary among women http://www.galluppoll.com/content/?ci=27676&pg=1 , Hispanics http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/2007-06-27-hispanics-dems-cover_N.htm and African-Americans http://www.galluppoll.com/content/?ci=28006 . And according to another recent Gallup poll, Hillary has a 22 point lead over her closest competitor among those who earn less than 50 thousand dollars per year.

It's true: in states like Iowa and Florida, it's good for your base to be big-D Democratic, rather than a mix of Democrats and independents.

Every major poll shows Hillary’s lead increasing in the Democratic primary. In the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls, Hillary has a 14.3 percentage point lead, a widening of 5.5 percentage points in the last 3 weeks. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/charts/?poll_id=191

In recent election cycles, any time a candidate has had as much as 35 or 40 percent of the vote consistently across polls in a multi-candidate field, that candidate has gone on to win the nomination. In the last race, Joseph Lieberman was in the teens at this point while Walter Mondale’s numbers in the 1984 Democratic primary were comparable to Hillary’s now.

Recent national polls show just how strong Hillary has become with voters nationally. (Top 3 candidates only shown below)

CBS News June 26-28: HRC 48 / Obama 24 / Edwards 11
May 18-23: HRC 46 / Obama 24 / Edwards 14

Cook/RT Strategies June 21-23: HRC 35 / Obama 24 / Edwards 15
June 15-17: HRC 32 / Obama 22 / Edwards 16

CNN June 22-24: HRC 43 / Obama 25 / Edwards 17
May 4-6: HRC 41 / Obama 27 / Edwards 14

Fox June 26-27: HRC 47 / Obama 21 / Edwards 13
June 5-6: HRC 41/ Obama 26 / Edwards 15

Gallup June 4-24: HRC 41 / Obama 24 / Edwards 14
June 1-3: HRC HRC 37 / Obama 35 / Edwards 13


NBC/WSJ June 8-11: HRC 39 / Obama 25 / Edwards 15
April 20-23: HRC 36 / Obama 31 / Edwards 20

Newsweek June 20-21: HRC 43 / Obama 14 / Edwards 14
(No tracking)

Why has Hillary’s lead grown as voters are exposed to all candidates?

Arguments from history are tough because the number of competitive election cycles in the modern area is so few.

Debates -- Each time the voters have had the opportunity to compare the candidates head-to-head in a debate, Hillary has come out the overwhelming winner.

Clinton's advisers say that more folks watched the debates or read news coverage about it than is generally believed.

In the June 28 Democratic debate in Washington DC, 27 out of 33 participants in a Luntz Maslansky dial group (81%) said Hillary won, compared with just 2 (6%) for her closest competitor.

And Hillary was also the overwhelming winner in the New Hampshire debate.

Who won the debate?
NH D Primary Voters (Franklin Pierce June 4)
Among all D Primary Voters: HRC 45 / Obama 8 / Edwards 4 / Richardson 3 / Biden 3
Among D Primary Voters Who Watched Debate: HRC 47 / Obama 11 / Edwards 6 / Richardson 4 / Biden 3

Read the rest of Penn's long memo after the jump.

There will be another debate every month from now until the end of the year, and each debate provides Hillary with another opportunity to demonstrate her experience, talk about her record on the issues, and show voters why she is the person best qualified to be president. =
Ready for Change

The reason for Hillary’s growing support is that voters want change, and they know that only Hillary has the record of fighting for the kind of change they want, and the experience to execute it.

In the June 8-11 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 61% of Democrats and Democratic primary voters said that Hillary would bring real change to the direction of the country. 56% of voters say that about her nearest competitor. 62% said Hillary has a vision for the country’s future, more than any other candidate. http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/sections/news/070613_NBC-WSJ_Release.pdf

Among those people for whom change is most important – working middle-class and low-income families, seniors, working women, and people without health care – Hillary is viewed as the most effective champion.


Hillary is also a leader with key endorsements that have proven valuable in organizing support in early primary states and across the country - including former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, former South Carolina Governor Richard Riley, former Nevada Governor Bill Miller, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, former Democratic House Leader Richard Gephardt, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Philadelphia Mayor John Street, Boston Mayor Tom Menino, former New York Mayor David Dinkins, and celebrities Steven Spielberg and Maya Angelou.

Early Primary States

In most of the key early primary states where the candidates are spending the most time, where voters have the opportunity to get up close and personal, Hillary’s lead is growing while the other leading contenders continue to lose support. (Only leading candidates shown.)

New Hampshire Primary (Suffolk University)
June 20-24: HRC 37 / Obama 19 / Edwards 9 / Richardson 9
Feb 24-28: HRC 28 / Obama 26 / Edwards 17 / Richardson 2

South Carolina Primary (ARG)

June 26-30: HRC 37 / Edwards 22 / Obama 21

May 23-26: HRC 34 / Edwards 30 / Obama 18


Nevada Caucus (Mason Dixon)

June 20-22: HRC 39 / Obama 17 / Edwards 12 / Richardson 7

April 30-May 1: HRC 37 / Edwards 13 / Obama 12 / Gore 9 / Richardson 6


In Iowa, Hillary is locked in a competitive battle.

Iowa Caucus (ARG)
June 26-30: HRC 32 / Edwards 29 / Obama 13 / Richardson 5
April 27-30: HRC 23 / Edwards 27 / Obama 19 / Richardson 5

Strategic Vision

June 22-24: Edwards 26 / Obama 21 / HRC 20 / Richardson 11

May 18-20: Edwards 29 / Obama 24 / HRC 16 / Richardson 9


Mason-Dixon June 13-16: HRC 22 / Edwards 21 / Obama 18 / Richardson 6


And in the primary states with the most delegates (Florida, New York, California, Texas, Pennsylvania and Ohio), Hillary has an overwhelming lead.

Florida – Quinnipiac June 18-25: HRC 43 / Obama 16 / Edwards 11 / Richardson 2


California – PPIC June 12-19: HRC 41 / Obama 25 / Edwards 12 / Richardson 3


New York – Siena June 18-21: HRC 43 / Gore 19 / Obama 11 / Edwards 9 / Richardson 1


Ohio – Quinnipiac June 18-25: HRC 40 / Edwards 12 / Gore 12 / Obama 12


Pennsylvania – Quinnipiac June 18-25: HRC 32 / Obama 18 / Gore 16 / Edwards 7


Texas – Texas Lyceum April 26-May 7: HRC 33 / Obama 21 / Gore 10 / Edwards 8 / Richardson 3


General Election

And every major poll now shows Hillary leading Rudy Giuliani. In the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls, Hillary has a 2.4 percentage point lead, an improvement of 7.8 percentage points in the last three weeks.

CNN June 22-24: HRC 49 / Giuliani 48
(No tracking)

Cook/RT Strategies June 21-23: HRC 45 / Giuliani 44
June 15-17: HRC 42 / Giuliani 42

Fox June 26-27: HRC 39 / Giuliani 37 / Bloomberg 7
June 5-6: HRC 39 / Giuliani 41 / Bloomberg 7

Gallup June 4-24: HRC 50 / Giuliani 45
June 1-3: HRC 45 / Giuliani 50


Newsweek June 20-21: HRC 51 / Giuliani 44
May 2-3: HRC 49 / Giuliani 46

NBC/WSJ June 8-11: HRC 48 / Giuliani 43
March 2-5: HRC 42 / Giuliani 47

Quinnipiac June 5-11: HRC 45 / Giuliani 44
April 25-May 1: HRC 40 / Giuliani 49