The GOP's winning strategy against Clinton?
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Opposition research is an established tool in the electioneering grab bag, and Republicans are working overtime to cut into Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College Federal workers stuck it out with Trump — now, we're ready to get back to work Biden soars as leader of the free world MORE's commanding lead as she heads into the slough of the 2016 presidential election. They have their issues: emails and Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation contributors. Is it enough to stop her? Possibly.

If you follow the news, and you certainly do if you are reading this, the issues have been laid out very nicely by the mainstream media and Republican spokesmen alike. Hillary Clinton used her personal email account and a private server exclusively to send thousands of messages during her stint as secretary of State. The issue is that these messages were outside the formal channels, not archived within the State Department and may have been subject to hacking, i.e., security breaches. Clinton has turned over what her staff believes are any emails that weighed in on foreign policy, but the issue is in the limelight.


The other issue is that the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, founded by the former president after he left office, has accepted contributions from foreign governments including Saudi Arabia ($25 million), Oman ($5 million) and the United Arab Emirates ($5 million). Since Clinton associated herself with the foundation after leaving her post as secretary of State, the question has been raised as to whether or not these contributions can be used to leverage decisions should she win the presidency. That issue becomes particularly poignant with the disclosure that last year, the Canadian government agency pushing for U.S. approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline donated between $250,000 and $500,000.

The Clintons defend their actions, pointing out that during her tenure as secretary of State, the foundation banned gifts by foreign governments and only resumed them after she had left office. The issue of undue foreign influence is just beginning to get traction. It is quite clear it will be aired repeatedly as time proceeds.

Republicans can be pleased that both issues have potential. Each will damage her stature, even though neither has yet to register within her party. All the polls — McClatchy-Marist, Quinnipiac, Rasmussen, Pew, Fox, ABC/Washington Post, CNN and Bloomberg — have her 40 percentage points ahead of her nearest Democratic opposition.

But matchups within her party may only mean that there are no viable opponents. There does not appear to be a relatively unknown opponent similar to President Obama who might sneak into the limelight as happened in 2007. The dominating lead that Clinton holds will likely intimidate most from trying. However, when the matchups shift to her potential opposition in the Republican race, that lead narrows to the point where it can be presumed to disappear by election time.

Real Clear Politics, which tracks polling results from all respectable sources, suggests that the average lead she holds over Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) is 6.5 points, and is 8.2 points over former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.). Since polling understandably lags the most immediate events, the current publicity is certain to narrow that lead further, and may well reverse it.

Remember that presidential elections are always about the last 5 percent of the voting population. Both parties in recent elections have been able to rely equally on 45 to 47 percent of voters to choose their candidate.

The hunt in electioneering strategy is for the last 5 percent, the so-called "independent voters." The cruel reality for partisans is that this last 5 percent is essentially made up by the emotional responses of uninformed or marginal voters. Republicans have proven themselves masterful in suppressing the likelihood that Democratic-leaning marginal voters will get to the polls, or not be allowed to vote when they do get there. Additionally, Republican strategists know that polling results always come with the caution that sampling errors or statistical imprecision might allow for results to be 3 to 4 percentage points either way from the sample results. So Clinton is precariously close to a statistical tie, even now.

The problem for Democrats is that their leading presumptive nominee and seemingly only hope for victory in the next presidential runoff is flawed, and at least one of those flaws may prove fatal. Everyone who watches politics knows that the Clintons are all about money. It was Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonTrump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College Obama: 'Hopeless' to try to sell as many books as Michelle Dow breaks 30,000 for first time as Biden transition ramps up MORE's shift to the moderate centrist posture after his party's crushing defeat in 1994 that led to accusations that he sold out to Wall Street bankers. It was Hillary who proclaimed that the Clintons were "dead broke" when they left the White House. It is every Democrat's fear or hope that her candidacy will return to the "New Democratic Coalition." (Read that to mean the business-friendly style of her husband.)

Articles are now appearing that give evidence to more open access for lobbyists if Clinton is successful. If Republicans can make their accusation stick that there will be "undue influence by foreign powers over the Clinton White House," they will have found the winning strategy for 2016. The betting at the moment is that they will.

Russell is managing director of Cove Hill Advisory Services.