For the first time since Bill Clinton in 1992, I believe a Democratic presidential candidate has a legitimate chance to win the presidential election. Al Gore seemed to be a decent nominee from about 1994-1998, but then Monicagate hit and Gore’s campaign managers led him astray. After that he had little chance, especially up against the Karl Rove machine. In 2004, despite America’s seemingly dislike of George W. Bush, the combination of a terrible candidate (John Kerry) and a full fledged war prevented the Democrats from having any real shot to win the White House. Now the times have changed.
The Democratic Party rebounded with brilliant candidates and well run campaigns in the 2006 midterm elections to win back both chambers of Congress, and regained control of the majority of state houses and state legislatures. Give Howard Dean and his people credit; their so called “50 State Strategy” worked well and America was ready for change. The same holds true today. The American people are tired of President Bush (his approval ratings have stagnated in the low 30s for over a year now) and sick of the war in Iraq. They are worried about the economy, and feel the pinch of a potential recession and a dismal housing market. Couple those things with a promising Democratic candidate and you see why for the first time in a long time, the Democrats have a real opportunity to put one of their own in the Big House.
John Edwards has no chance to win — let’s get that straight right now. He is running to keep the top tier candidates focused on specific issues (notably poverty and the lower class) and the hopes of earning a cabinet position come 2009. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, two successful senators from large states, however, are both truly electable. Despite the race and gender card (which although they would rather not discuss, is still a real issue for many Americans), these two candidates are legitimate runners in the race for the White House.
Upon hearing last year about Clinton and Obama’s decisions to run, my immediate thought was that the Democrats would again be beatable. I figured a young black Senator and a battered ex-First Lady had very little chance to be formidable candidates. I was wrong. Both candidates galvanized their followers and turned their own hopes and ideas into millions of dollars (which is the first real test of electability), millions of supporters, and just as importantly, respect from most circles. Furthermore, the Republican candidates seem blasé. Mitt Romney, despite his two golds and two silvers in the primaries and caucuses, is not a viable option for the majority of America, and Mike Huckabee is too little, too late. John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are the Republican’s best options, but neither has run a quality campaign, and both are close to blowing their chance.
Obama and Clinton, despite their weaknesses — in this week’s Nevada debate, Obama admitted his biggest weakness was being disorganized, while Clinton said hers was being too impatient when things don’t get done — can win the 270 electoral votes needed to be the next President. They will obviously get the vote of most Democratic voters, and because of impressive get-out-the-vote efforts from the Democratic National Committee and other progressive groups, the 2008 elections could be the largest turnout from Democratic voters we’ve ever seen. More importantly, Obama or Clinton will win the Independent vote. Even if McCain or Giuliani win the Republican nominee, their traditionally moderate stances won’t earn many Independent votes because of the present unpopularity of the Republican Party and the current state of the Union. Even if Obama or Clinton do not get many crossover votes from Republicans (which I am sure they will not), they can still get enough votes from Democrats and Independents to win the presidency.
Although I disagree with some of their ideas, I admit that Obama and Clinton both are formulating solid strategies and running tight campaigns. Their opinions and ideas are being clearly articulated, but more importantly they are showing personality and individuality along the campaign trail. By exciting the voters and expressing solid plans, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are showing not only that they can be the next President, but that one of them will be the next President.
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