Primary Colors

Ben Domenech looks at the possibility that President Obama could face a primary challenge, possibly from Hillary Clinton, in 2012. As Moe Lane notes, Obama’s people are busy reworking the primary system so as to make a repeat of 2008 less likely. Historically, presidents who get re-elected have a unified party, while those who face non-frivolous primary challenges (Bush in 1992, Carter in 1980, Ford in 1976, LBJ in 1968) lose. The last president to get re-elected despite a serious rift in his own party was Truman in 1948.
Obviously, whether Obama faces a primary challenger depends in largest part on his perceived strength in mid-late 2011, which we can’t predict now. Ben focuses on some key issues, like where gay fundraising mogul Tim Gill is going to put his money. My guess is that while Hillary may yet have a renewed appeal to centrist voters within and without the party (odd as it remains to think of her as a centrist, but the contrast with Obama has done wonders in that regard) based on the contrast she can offer less in ideology than in experience and perceived competence, she’s not likely to mount a challenge unless and until someone on the left (which is openly disgruntled at Obama for discarding some of his most utopian campaign themes and promises) goes first, as Eugene McCarthy did in 1968, encouraging Robert F. Kennedy to enter the race. That would allow Hillary to avoid a straight right-left battle (which the centrist will generally lose, especially when Obama is guaranteed 90+ % of the African-American vote under any conceivable circumstance) as well as avoiding the disloyalty issues that would arise if she threw the first stone at him.

5 thoughts on “Primary Colors”

  1. the bloom is off the rose, huh? First things first,the mid terms-do the Republicans win both houses or only one and when that happens what does President O do? Move to the center or stay on the far left?

  2. I can’t imagine Hillary mounting a campaign – she is, after all, part of Obama’s cabinet. Obama does have some vulnerability, but I can’t really think of a Democrat who hits the sweet spot of potential opposition to him. Maybe somebody like Jim Webb?

  3. I think someone should look into trimming that 90% of the black vote figure you mention. I have no scientific data to back my feeling that Obama might be more vulnerable with the black voters; no data, but a series of casual conversations with friends, business connections, guys ahead of me in a checkout line. Those black people are also Americans, people who have to make the money last until the end of the month, and I believe they can see the damage to our country wrought by this administration.
    How about a simple appeal to their patriotism? Maybe I am just giddy from watching Chris Cristy video clips, but I suspect a no nonsense appeal to black voters’ common sense might make real inroads. There will be other black candidates, after all.
    Hey, I vote against white candidates all the time. It’s doesn’t sting.

  4. The GOP has a bunch of wackadoos, even by their standards, running and places where if there was a normal person running the seat might be more up for grabs than it will likely turn out to be (see Nevada, Harry Reid). And while no person is going to come out of this BP fiasco looking swell members of the GOP seem to be insisting on looking like total jackasses whenever possible.
    I’ve said this before here, the bar for politicians is so freaking low right now that we end up picking between a freak and an idiot in more cases than I care to think about. IMO neither side does, collectively, much good for regular people and the parties together have become a head on collision.

  5. I think Princess Sarah and “ideas” for governing — the TV ads on such things as her plan to rely on the Little Dutch Boy to plug oil wells just about write themselves — will be all that is necessary to unite and energize the Democratic Party.

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