What keeps prospective GOP candidates awake at night? It isn’t the unrest in Egypt or the North Korean regime. It isn’t the upcoming 2014 elections or the future 2016 primary. It isn’t Obamacare, immigration reform, Dodd-Frank, gay marriage, or government spending. It is one person, and her name is Hillary Clinton.
Hillary’s shadow looms large not just over her fellow Democrats who want a chance at the nomination for President in 2016. Her influence is so large it is affecting how the GOP candidates map their own roads to the White House.
Of course, Clinton hasn’t even announced whether or not she intends to run. Her decision is the most anticipated and important announcement of the 2016 cycle.
Republicans are afraid; and they should be. Hillary Clinton would be the most formidable candidate from either political party since Dwight D. Eisenhower. She is generally respected by members of both parties and adored by Democrats. She proved herself competent and loyal by serving as Secretary of State for four years. And did I mention she’s a woman?
Fairly or not, should Clinton run, she will undoubtedly pick up many votes from people who just want to see a woman elected President. Unlike Obama, who likely lost as many votes as he gained due to the color of his skin, Clinton would likely see a net gain. Simply put, there just aren’t as many people who think a woman should not be President.
Additionally, Hillary has the chance to excite a whole new generation of voters, much like Barack Obama did in 2008. These are people who are excited for something fresh and the prospect of making history.
Publicly, most GOP pols will say they can beat Clinton, should she decide to run. But most of them are either wild optimists or just lying. The biggest problem for Republicans is not her public stature or her vast experience or her gender. Their biggest problem is the map.
Clinton puts more states in play than any potential Republican candidate. Recent polls suggest she runs close or even beats her GOP opponents in traditionally red states such as Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, and even Alaska. And those are just the states that have been polled on the hypothetical match ups.
In addition to the aforementioned states, assuming states with similar demographics behave similarly, Clinton puts the entire south in play (Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia, South Carolina, Arizona, and Missouri). In total, those thirteen states make up 140 electoral votes.
That isn’t to mention how strong her lead is in traditionally Democrat states. The Republican candidate is going to have to spend millions of dollars just to keep traditionally GOP states in their column. That takes money away from going on offense in swing states and blue states.
Assuming Clinton were to make those thirteen states into swing states, the map would then look something like the map shown here. The Republican candidate would only have approximately 51 "safe" electoral votes. Talk about a "shellacking".
Right now, the astute political scientist is probably saying, “Yeah, all this is true, but political parties rarely get a third term in the White House. The American people are going to be ready for change”. And I agree.
This is where Clinton has been incredibly politically shrewd. By taking the Secretary of State job, she was able to detach herself from Obama in terms of domestic policy. Therefore, the stimulus, Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and anything else that is perhaps unpopular cannot be pinned on her. Depending on how the public views each of these issues in 2016, Clinton can shape her position in order to better line up with public opinion.
Furthermore, if the economy is seen as picking up steam and greatly improving, Clinton can run on Obama’s legacy of economic development and promise to keep it going as opposed to changing course with the GOP.
Given all this, barring some unforeseen world event or scandal that seriously affects her, Clinton will almost assuredly be the next President of the United States, and that scares the shit out of Republicans.