When’s the last time a first-term president lost re-nomination by his own party? I can’t think of a time it’s ever happened, but some people are starting to suggest that Barack Obama is so unpopular that Hillary Clinton has a shot at the Democratic nomination for next year. Are they crazy or could there be something to this?
It’s far too early in the process for me to make predictions about who’s going to win, so I’m not ready to come down hard on either side of the discussion. But the fact that I’m seeing it mentioned so frequently is a strong indication of Obama’s possible electoral weakness right now.
When it was just Dick Cheney suggesting that Clinton run against Obama, you could write it off as a Republican eager to sabotage an incumbent Democratic president. You could also say that James Carville was just living up to his “ragin’ Cajun” image when he wrote blunt advice to Obama about what he had to do to survive.
But when the New York Times has a story quoting Democratic congressmen questioning Obama’s ability to be re-elected, you know the president is in trouble. Perhaps the most important piece of this puzzle came Friday, though, when Bloomberg reported that Clinton is the most popular politician in the country at the moment, with nearly two thirds of voters saying they have a favorable view of her and a full third of voters saying the country would have been better off if she had been elected three years ago instead of Obama. The same poll showed that Obama’s job approval rating has fallen to 45 percent, which is the lowest of his presidency.
Our own regular commenter JB made his prediction in the comments of another story this week that Clinton would be the next president. (Spoiler: He doesn’t care for the woman.) Is he right? I don’t think the odds favor that prediction yet — and I’m not ready to make my own actual predictions — but it’s something nobody would have even talked about a year ago. (You can also read JB’s new blog here if you’d like to follow him, as I do.)
So will we be facing another Clinton presidency in another 14 months or so? I’d say the odds aren’t good for Clinton, but the fact we’re talking about it as a serious possibility might just show how weak Obama’s chances are. At this point, I would put my money on the generic GOP nominee as the likely winner, but they’re so unimpressive that some people will be looking for another choice.
If someone put a gun to my head today and demanded that I make a prediction, I’d say Rick Perry has the best shot — even though I’ve made it clear that I don’t care for the man. With that said, I can see Clinton having a shot, which would have been unthinkable not long ago. The times are crazy and unstable.