Why Hillary Clinton's Slash-and-Burn Politics May Hurt Her More Than Obama
First, a negative attack has to ring true to the people you are attempting to persuade. Initial polls seem to indicate that most of the people who are receptive to the "Obama-is-a-condescending-'elitist'-argument" already supported Hillary in the primary before the attacks began. Clinton's attacks may rally some of her troops, but the argument doesn't seem to be that persuasive to actual undecided voters.If the Democrats don't win the White House in November it will be the fault of Hillary Clinton and her campaign. I supported her until January and would have voted for her in November until about a week ago. Now - my old nemesis Bob Barr is looking better all the time. We have to stop the attack on the constitution and the hegemonic neocon foreign policy before any of the other issues will really matter.
Of course one reason may have to do with the credibility of the messenger. It's tough to attack someone else for "elitism" if you've spent the last 16 years in Washington as First Lady and Senator, and your family brought in $107 million over the last seven years. Assuming an eight-hour workday, that means that Bill and Hillary made as much every two hours as Barack Obama made each full year that he organized out-of-work steelworkers for a coalition of church groups.
Second, the fact of a negative attack itself can backwash on the candidate who makes it. Making negative attacks makes people look mean and unlikable. That is a particular problem when the audience for your attacks includes Democratic primary voters and Super Delegates who really want to win the White House in November.
Clinton's negative attacks on Obama have especially begun to backfire with Super Delegates. I've talked to a number of undecided Super Delegate Members of Congress who are furious at her willingness to attack the candidate who they consider almost certain to be the Democratic nominee.
Most think that Clinton has no more than a 10% chance of winning the nomination, so the odds are great that she is doing nothing now but legitimating the Republican narrative for the general election. The story line that Democrats are "elitists" who look down on middle class people is taken right out of Karl Rove's playbook. It's been used for decades to convince everyday Americans to re-elect Republicans that outsource their jobs, destroy their unions and lower their wages. Many Democratic Super Delegates are apoplectic that Clinton would give credibility to that Republican line of attack on their likely standard-bearer.
We've already seen examples of high profile Super Delegates (like Bill Richardson) who have gone with Obama partially because of Clinton's negativism. We'll likely see many more.
Finally, her attacks have allowed the Obama campaign - and the media - to parody her desperate attempts to appear "working class." When Obama conjured up images of Hillary Clinton sitting in a duck blind it called to mind those unforgettable pictures of Michael Dukakis in a tank.
A CQ Politics analysis indicates that even with a "big" win in PA Hillary will barely close the delegate advantage held by Obama.
Still more evidence that Hillary Clinton's politics Rove style may be backfiring.
Clinton losing traction over Obama in Pennsylvania, Indiana
With three crucial Democratic primaries looming, Hillary Rodham Clinton may not be headed toward the blockbuster victories she needs to jump-start her presidential bid -- even in Pennsylvania, the state that was supposed to be her ace in the hole, a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found.A good performance in tommorows debate could all but sew it up for Obama.
The survey found the New York senator leading Barack Obama by just 5 percentage points in Pennsylvania, which votes next Tuesday. Such a margin would not give her much of a boost in the battle for the party's nomination.
What is more, the poll found Clinton trails Obama by 5 points in Indiana, another Rust Belt state that should play to her strengths among blue-collar voters.
In North Carolina, an Obama stronghold, he is running 13 points ahead.