Hillary Clinton could become the first female President of the United States. That reality alone has been the primary driver of Hillary's political existence. She rode her husbands coattails all the way to the US Senate. She ran in New York, of course, because the long-time Arkansan would be given a clear path to victory there. This would then set the stage for the obvious plan that the Clinton's had to continue the dynasty and return to the White House. In 2008, Hillary was the inevitable Democratic candidate. She lost, of course, but she is once again the inevitable candidate heading into 2016. Many think she will coast to victory as the chance for yet another new "first" will over-ride all other concerns. Sadly, they might be right. But here are five reasons why they are probably, or at least hopefully, wrong.
1: People like the Idea of Hillary Clinton More than the Actually Like Hillary Clinton
Any realistic analysis of polls over the last 25 years or so points to one reality: People really just like the idea of Hillary Clinton, and not so much the person who winds up in front of them at the end of the day? She could break the "glass ceiling" at the White House. She has the Clinton name, even if she reluctantly changed it from Hillary Rodham to appease the more socially conservative tyes in Arkansas. Her resume shows she has the experience, pointing to her time as a First Lady, US Senator, and Secretary of State. She is often quite popular, but usually only when she hasn't been heard of for months at a time. Once she sticks her head out of the sand he number quickly start to drop.
When Hillary was pushing socialized medicine as First Lady in the early 90s she wasn't very popular. Once she backed away from pushing her healthcare agenda and the Clinton Administration went moderate she regained her political footing and scored in the 60% favorable range. She was overwhelmingly popular until she ran for US Senate in 2001 and became a political monster once again, where she quickly fell underwater in popularity once again. As a US Senator and constant Bush nemesis, she had middling numbers throughout most of her time as Senator. That lasted until 2006 when the next presidential election was getting serious consideration and the "chatter" about possibly having the first female President boosted her numbers north of 50% in most polls. And then she announced her intentions in 2007, started campaigning, and she fell to break-even at best and, more often than not, slightly underwater once people got a feel for her once again.
When she jumped to the State Department under President Obama, her numbers soared into the mid-60s as no-one heard from her for months at a time and she was once again the "ideal" candidate. She was also, once again, the inevitable first female POTUS. High approvals ratings followed her State Department tenure and first 2 years of "retirement" as people continued to not see much of her. Then in 2014 she re-emerged to defend her questionable State record and she launched a ho-hum book as part of her re-introduction to the public. According to Gallup tracking, she would fall from 64% favorable in 2013 to 59% by February 2014 and then to 54% by June. Notice that every low point on the Gallup bar graph is when Hillary is most visible and her high points are when she has seemingly disappeared. Conclusion: People like the idea of Hillary more than Hillary herself. Perhaps if she could make it to election day without having to make a public appearance she would win in a landslide.
2: She is a Woman Without a Philosophy
Who is Hillary Clinton and who really knows what she believes? That's the problem Hillary will have once again in 2016. In 2008, she ran as a "moderate" in her primary thinking the nomination was going to be hers. She lost to Barack Obama who ran clearly to her left. How will she appease progressives in 2016 and how will it hurt her moderate positioning? Can she tip-toe around Obamacare and the economic mess she would inherit should she win? She likes to leave much up to the imagination when it comes to her philosophy. This can be a problem when it enables others to define her better than she defines herself. She my also mistakenly think that she can win by running as a far lefty since Barack did, but he did not win because of his liberal ideas. (See #3 and #5 as to what Obama offered that she does not.)
3: She is Not New
For a party that prides itself on being young and fresh and hip, the Democrats have a "freshness" deficit on their hands when compared to Republicans. Hillary has been around for almost three decades now and that doesn't exactly bring excitement. Hot on her heals is Joe Biden, who was first elected to the US Senate when Richard Nixon was President. The potential of electing the first female POTUS lost out to the freshness and newness of Barack Obama. Unless the GOP runs off and nominates someone like Jeb Bush, the party will undoubtedly have the fresher, younger, more exciting candidate.
4: She is Accomplishment Free
There are few things more entertaining in life than asking a Hillary Clinton supporter to name an accomplishment. Sure, Barack Obama had few accomplishments under his belt before becoming President. Heck, he once claimed that running his large campaign team was an accomplishment and that living in Indonesia as a kid qualified as solid foreign policy experience. But he also hadn't been a national figure for more than two decades. He certainly didn't have the resume Hillary has and, yet, nothing. Her main policy goal as First Lady was a disaster. She had nothing to show for in eight years as a US Senator. And her time as Secretary of State was mostly just failure on top of disappointment.
5: Hillary is Actually Quite Dull
Here is Hillary's real problem: She is dull. Like, a knife made out of butter dull. We can all admit that Mitt Romney was quite a dull candidate for the Republicans. Al Gore was famously wooden, too. But Hillary just may break the glass ceiling on dullness. Every move is calculated. There is little spontaneity. This was a huge reason Barack Obama was able to sneak in and topple the chosen one. Barack was - to liberals at least - exciting. He was new, and fresh, and different. In the age of social media, dullness doesn't sell well. When was the last time someone talked about a rousing speak by Clinton? Marco Rubio gives them all the time. Rand Paul is specifically targeting the Democrats demographics. Ben Carson took the stage at a National Prayer Breakfast and insulted the President's policies as he sat just feet away. Dull doesn't get people to turn the television on, as was evident when few tuned in to see her first big prime-time interview to launch her new book.
This isn't to say Hillary Clinton can't win. That would be stupid. But she isn't a Barack Obama and she probably isn't a lot of the Republican class of 2010, either. In the end, voters might ask for more than simply being able to check off the gender box for President. Obama offered a lot of reasons for a lot of people to vote for him in 2008. What else does Hillary have to offer?