I would just like to say that I am not committed to any democratic presidential candidate. I tend to lean slightly in one direction or another, but I won’t pick who to support until the end of the year. I want to say that those who write Hillary off, or think that she "can't win," are fooling themselves. Hillary has strengths, and she has weaknesses. But her weaknesses tend to relate to strengths she would have as president (such as having had been in the white house for 8 years, which allowed the right to trash her continuously and erode some support for her).
2008 is starting to look like it just may be a very good year. And no, I don't say this because over at tradesports.com, investors are overwhelmingly betting that Hillary will be the next president, and that dems will keep the house and senate. The war in Iraq is destroying republican chances, along with their core long term strengths (such as being the better party on national security). Their base hates all three of their front runners. I don't even see how Romney became a frontrunner. The polls sure don't make him out to be. I think the media just decided to decree one day that Romney is a frontrunner, and through mass repetition, it became truth.
So people who say Hillary cannot win, have to tell us who can beat her. Pro-Bush Mccain? Huckabee? Brownback?
I have noticed something regarding early general election polls. In every election since 1992, the democratic candidates (or the generic "unnamed" democrat) always started out polling about 10% less than the likely republican. This was even the case early in 1995 regarding the 1996 election. But one key occurrence could be observed with regard to these polls. The republican, while often polling 10% or 15% higher than the democrat, never quite broke above 49%. And as the election got closer, almost all of those undecided voters broke for the democrat. There are 3 conservatives per every 2 liberals in this country, and so democrats rely disproportionately on support from moderates. Moderates tend not to follow politics as closely, and tend to be less opinionated. This could be the explanation for this phenomenon.
So if polls have shown Hillary behind Mccain, does the same occurrence show itself? Yes, because Mccain rarely breaks above 49%. It is the support of Hillary (and any other democratic opponent) whose support fluctuates, not Mccain’s (not as much anyway). Recent polls have shown the gap narrowing, with some showing a considerable narrowing, or Hillary polling ahead. I think that whatever the polls say, if there are still high numbers of undecided voters late in the year, unless the democrat is polling around 50% already, we can expect those undecided to break for the democrat enough to put them at least at 48%. Then the issue becomes independents.
Kerry lost, not because conservatives showed up. They showed up in the same numbers in 2006, and voted the same way. Kerry lost because he tied Bush amongst independents. About 30% of voters are conservative, and 20% liberal (the difference is even greater than 10% in many polls, even if not much greater), while the national number of democrats vs. republicans is about equal (about 33% each, with the number for dems often being slightly higher). The cause is that moderates break heavily for the democrat. Since moderates break so heavily for democrats (because many self identified moderates are self identified democrats), the fact that moderates break by a certain margin for democrats doesn't tell you much. The key is independents. This means that to win, Hillary doesn't have to win republicans who hate her. She simply has to win the independent vote by a margin of at least 5%. Kerry won independents by a margin of only 1%, and almost won. So if Hillary can be more appealing to independents (or make the republican less appealing), she will not have any problems winning the election.
This is how she wins red states. There are not two different Americas, the red and the blue. The only difference between the states, that make them red vs. blue, is the concentration of republicans and of conservatives. States with higher concentrations are red, states with lower are blue. But it is a continuum. There is far more difference between Utah and Ohio, than there is between Ohio and Oregon.
On election day, 2000, Bill Clinton had an approval rating of 57%. Of all the states that gave him an approval higher than his national 57% average, Gore won all, except Florida (debatable). Only New Mexico and Iowa went for Gore and gave Clinton an approval lower than 57%.
States are more like a continuum than a homogenous bunch that can be placed into distinctive groups. Some are more red, some less. Some are more blue, some less. Light blue states are very similar to light red states. States vote in relation to the national popular vote. Kerry did slightly worse than Gore in the popular vote, and slightly worse in the electoral college. Clinton did much better than Gore in the popular vote (his margin over Dole), and much better in the electoral college.
So how does Hillary win "red states?" She wins the popular vote by at least 1%. Since each state has a number of electors equal to the number of US congressional seats they have, plus their two senate seats, the electoral college skews in the direction of rural states. This was why Gore won the popular vote but lost the electoral college. But Gore only won the popular vote by 0.5%. Had he done ever so slightly better, he would have won the couple hundred more votes he needed to win Florida or New Hampshire (both of which he only lost because of Nader). Had Gore doubled his popular vote margin (to 1%), he would have won the election.
If Hillary wins the popular vote by 2%, she will win all Gore and Kerry states, plus AR, OH, and maybe NV. Increase that to 3%, and she picks up AR, OH, NV, and maybe MO. Increase that to 4%, and she picks up AR, OH, NV, MO, and maybe FL and CO. (You may dispute my FL projection, but FL is a very republican state at the statewide level, and Kerry did better in AR, OH, NV and MO than he did in FL). If you continue to add a point, you add another couple of states.
Likewise, if she (or any dem) does slightly worse than Kerry in the popular vote, she (or any dem) will do slightly worse in the electoral college. A loss of 3% would probably lose you WI. 4% might lose you WI and MI, and so on.
In addition, Hillary is not any more likely to cost us down-ticket races (house, senate ect) than any other democrat given her popular vote numbers. Any democrat who either loses by a narrow margin (say about 4% or less), or wins, wont hurt, and could help, our down-ticket candidates. Kerry lost by a 2.5% margin, and outside of seats lost because of Texas redistricting, democrats had a net house pickup. With those Texas seats, democrats had a loss of only a couple of seats. If she is more likely to lose by a margin of 5% or more, then yes, she can hurt our down-ticket candidates. But is she more likely to lose by a margin of 5% or more than any other candidate? If you think she is, then is she more or less likely to lose by that margin than another candidate after they have the collective vomit of the fringe right wing thrown at them (something which Hillary has had thrown at her every day for the last 14 years)?
My point is that there are not two countries with different histories and values. The country can be described as a continuum. In 2000 the outcome fluctuated on the midpoint fulcrum of Clinton's approval (probably because the popular vote was a tie). Clinton's approval translated to the popular vote margin, which translated into the outcome of the election.
So Hillary can win (and will) if she wins the popular vote by a large enough margin. Some states, like Nebraska, won’t vote for her. This is not because there is no chance they would choose to, but because to win a state like Nebraska, she would have to win the popular vote by about a 30% margin. Democrats won the house popular vote nationally by about a 10% or 15% margin in 2006, and almost won a deep red Nebraska congressional seat (and did win a deep red Kansas congressional seat). In 2004, when democrats lost the national house popular vote by several points, they were crushed in the same congressional district in Nebraska (and in the district in Kansas).
So Hillary has to win the popular vote. She is already ahead in the popular vote in several recent polls, and close behind in others. We can expect enough of the undecided voters to break her way (as they have broken the dems' way during the last 4 presidential elections) enough so that if she wins independents by a margin of 5% or so, she will win the popular vote enough to win the White House.
Winning independents will require money, and it will require skill and strategy. It will require framing your general election opponent as you want to frame him. It will require being skilled enough and experienced enough to not be surprised by anything. It will require being knowledgeable enough about how republicans function to be able to withstand the vitriol thrown at you by the right-wing media.
Can Hillary do these things? If she can, she can win independents by at least a few percentage points, and thus win the election.