The Democrats’ dinosaur problem

ADVERTISEMENT
Half a decade after the 2008 primaries, it’s easy to buy into Hillary-mania being a force that will unite Democrats together in pursuit of retaining the White House.
 
Thing is, the last time she was a national candidate Clinton lost to a first-term senator in a brutal campaign that began with near-unanimous conventional wisdom that she would be the nominee. Who’s to say that history won’t repeat itself? The only major political scrutiny she’s endured since defeat at Obama’s hands came in the form of her testimony to the Senate regarding Benghazi, with the actual degree of scrutiny varying depending on who you talk to.
 
Vice-President, and noted smooth talker, Joe Biden theoretically makes a formidable candidate, but only because of the first two words in this sentence. Incumbency advantage aside, Candidate Biden would be a third-time candidate in his mid-seventies with decades’ worth of Senate votes for opponents to exploit.
 
The closest to a political newcomer is New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He may be the scion of a powerful political family second only to the Kennedys in representing the entrenched East Coast Democratic establishment, but at least he’s never run for president.
 
Prior to 2012, Cuomo cultivated a center-left image, with a record tailor-made for a general election and bolstered by his stratospheric approval ratings in the Empire State.
 
Yet since early 2013, Cuomo’s rise to national prominence has been hamstrung by declining approval, negative headlines and a deer in the headlights response to the hoopla of Hillary Clinton’s departure from the secretary of State’s office.
 
So a perfectly realistic scenario has three baggage-ridden Democrats from equally baggage-ridden political dynasties duking it out in a primary in a few years time.
 
Add that to the fact that the candidates will be courting a party base that hasn’t faced ideological and personality-fueled infighting in eight years, and will need to appeal to a liberal primary electorate while gearing up to defend the Obama record without the appeal of Obama himself in the general election – likely to be no easy task as polling data shows that support for Obama’s agenda is inexorably linked to his personality.
 
In 2016, Democrats will be confronted with a relatability problem of their own: the most oft-mentioned candidates to assume the mantle of ”hope and change” are relics of a bygone era of liberal politics, and in most cases have already been rejected by the Democratic voting base.

Howell is account director at Hynes Communications and a contributor to the Peach State political blog Georgia Tipsheet