After months of speculation, it's now official: Hillary Clinton will seek the presidency in 2016. The announcement came on Sunday afternoon via an email sent by John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman, to donors. In a short video published on her website, Clinton made clear that restoring the middle class would be a central tenet of her campaign.
"Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times," Clinton said. "But the deck is stacked for those at the very top."
The announcement of Clinton's candidacy became imminent after Politico revealed last week that she leased a large office space in Brooklyn, New York, to serve as her campaign headquarters. According to Federal Election Committee rules, Clinton was required to formally declare her candidacy no less than 15 days after beginning campaign activity.
Clinton enters the race as the overwhelming favorite to capture the Democratic nomination. Data from several polls, aggregated and averaged by RealClearPolitics, calculated her support at around 60 percent of likely Democratic voters. An assortment of declared and potential primary opponents, including Vice President Joseph Biden and popular Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, garner less than 15 percent. Clinton also leads all plausible Republican opponents in hypothetical general elections.
Despite these strengths, Clinton's path to the White House is unlikely to be smooth. Last month, she elicited widespread criticism when it was revealed that, as Secretary of State, she had improperly deleted tens of thousands of emails. The incident—and Clinton's awkward self-defense—dented her popularity and heightened Democratic concern that she was vulnerable to scandal. My colleague David A. Graham noted on Friday that Kentucky senator and GOP candidate Rand Paul would, if facing Clinton in the general election, use the email controversy as evidence of her dishonesty.
Nevertheless, Clinton enters the 2016 race in an enviable position. No other candidate on either side can match the combination of experience, celebrity, fundraising ability, and historical possibility—of becoming the first female American president—that she boasts.
As Hillary Clinton learned in her previous run for the presidency in 2008, inevitability is no guarantee of victory. But her official entry into the 2016 presidential election signals, if nothing else, that one of America's most fascinating public lives will begin an intriguing new chapter.