The summer of Hillary discontent has taken on new heights of lunacy and hyperbole with the recent report by Alex Griswold at Mediaite's take on Andrea’ Mitchell’s TV segment indicating “White women are abandoning Hillary Clinton in droves.”
Since Hillary Rodham Clinton’s official announcement into the 2016 presidential race, we’ve seen poll after poll showing Clinton's lead for the Democratic nomination and assumed coronation to winning the presidency tightening up with Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and other presidential candidates. While these polls can be alarming to the most ardent Hillary voter, there is no need for her campaign to go into panic mode. To a degree, Clinton probably expected the Republican attacks and biased coverage. We've seen inflammatory storylines about her proposed policies, to irrelevant inquiries about what cleaners she uses in New York, but Clinton probably didn't expect to see the frequency of negative storylines and news cycles from email servers to Benghazi that seemed intent on creating a narrative about Clinton's campaign woes. This is why the Andrea Mitchell report and referenced poll suggesting democratic white women are 'abandoning' Hillary with an approvable rating of only 42%, appears to be the culmination of unfavorable press coverage and a poll that reinforces the narrative of declining, overall support. The notion of an 'objective' media is seriously in question, here.
Although polls are supposed to show a snapshot of the moment, there is historical data based on actual elections and the women's vote that would be highly encouraging to Hillary and her campaign. In 2008, nationwide, President Obama captured 56% of the women's vote en route to a landslide victory. Part of those numbers from this poll also indicated Obama won 46% of the white women's vote, which is very respectable numbers given the well documented difficulty of Democratic presidents and candidates in capturing the white vote. In 2012, women once again carried Obama to victory with a decisive 55% to 43% gap against Mitt Romney.
Hillary Clinton is hoping to become the first woman President in US history and much of her success rests on a coalition of voters, and there is no doubt Clinton will not become President of the United States without capturing a majority of the women’s vote.
In moving forward, there are valuable lessons this summer should have taught Clinton and her team. Between now and November 8th 2016, promises to be one of the most unpleasant, brutal, expensive, lie filled presidential campaigns in US history. Hillary and the Clinton name embodies political resilience, scandal, intellectual brilliance and ambition. The Republicans are salivating at the prospect of winning the Presidency and implementing a right-wing agenda that our ‘objective’ media continues to underreport or minimize its catastrophic implications. Clinton can expect from the republicans-lies to be promulgated as truth, a rehash on alleged scandals, questioning her integrity, age, character, political record-and it will be done with fervor and persistence by the Republican party, PAC’s and nefarious outside groups. The money in politics--it’s going to be ugly.
If this summer is any indicator, the media will continue to do its part in promoting anti-Hillary stories and raise the profile of anyone who says outlandish and offensive things about Clinton because it's good for ratings and conveniently provides political fodder for the 'survival of the fittest' elongated presidential campaigns of the twenty first century. Morning news shows that remain heavily weighted toward Republican guests will intensify as the campaign progresses.
With all that being said, these headwinds of challenges provides Clinton with an opportunity to take a step back and develop a political campaign and strategy that understands its enemies and coordinates with its friends. To be something more than a vote to keep a backward thinking Republican away from the White House. If Clinton is to win this thing, she will have to confront the demons of her previously unsuccessful presidential campaign and clarify the role of government in ways that provides a clear contrast to the Republican vision. She also needs to go beyond the typical generalities of Big vs Small government. Clinton's campaign will need to show a discipline in content and messaging that she has not been able to do yet. She must show patience and political resolve with infectious positivity. Clinton may benefit from being selective in what she responds to, have a pool of sharp and committed surrogates addressing the media on her behalf when necessary and releasing prepared statements of rebuttal when going before the camera is not needed. Lastly, Clinton must confront the anti-Washington sentiment and speak truth to power. How she does this given her ties to Wall Street and government will most likely be the biggest challenge of her campaign.
Whatever happens, history will show a woman of great accomplishment--mother, lawyer, a lengthy background in working and supporting children and women’s issues, Senator, Secretary of State and legitimate two-time presidential candidate. But how she handles the long road ahead, whether she likes it or not, will define her legacy.