As voting finally gets under way in the 2016 US presidential election, it is more than merely Hillary Clinton’s personal ambitions that are on the line; a potential political dynasty is at stake, and dependent, in part, on the turnout in the remote state of Iowa, where voters have gathered together in a series of caucuses to help determine who will become the 45th President of the United States.
Hillary Clinton has been here before, of course. Eight years ago, she entered the presidential campaign with every imaginable advantage: exceptional financial backing; universal name recognition; apparent party support; and plenty of political IOUs to cash in. Yet all of these came to nothing in the end as her presidential ambitions crashed and burned. Hillary Clinton failed to secure the Democratic Party’s nomination for a variety of reasons; poor campaign management, poor electoral tactics and a sense of hubris all contributed to doom her presidential aspirations in 2008. If Hillary Clinton is to be elected President of the United States in November, it is vital that her campaign learn from the mistakes that were made in 2008 and not merely attempt to win using the same flawed tactics.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2008 was impacted by decisions made during her 2006 re-election bid for the Senate. She needed to secure an overwhelming re-election result to position herself for 2008’s presidential campaign. This, however, precluded early campaigning in Iowa, forcing her to yield the state to Barack Obama and John Edwards, who both invested time and money in the state, leaving Hillary Clinton to play catch-up months later. Not surprisingly, when Hillary Clinton’s team eventually began canvasing opinion in Iowa, they discovered that she was polling third, on the basis that voters claimed not to like her. Her competence and ability were not an issue, but in Iowa, where voters are inundated with presidential candidates and often meet them three times before deciding to vote for them, Hillary Clinton’s absence created a void that her opponents had filled and fashioned an impression of being removed from the process.
At the last minute, Hillary Clinton’s campaign flooded Iowa in a desperate attempt to convince voters that she was not taking their vote for granted. However, when the Iowa results were announced, Hillary Clinton’s numbers had barely moved and, as initially predicted, she came in third with 29.5 per cent of the vote, narrowly behind John Edwards on 29.8 per cent, but considerably behind Barack Obama’s winning number of 38 per cent. The result shattered the illusion of Hillary Clinton’s invincibility. Her campaign team appeared uncertain as to what to do next or what had gone wrong. In hindsight, campaigning in Iowa may have been the single greatest mistake of the campaign.
Eight years later, Hillary Clinton is still not home and dry in Iowa. A Suffolk University poll conducted in August 2015 put her thirty-four points ahead of Bernie Sanders, leading 54 per cent to 20 per cent. However, on the eve of voting, voter intent has narrowed, leaving the result up for grabs. A RealClearPolitics poll-of-polls gives Hillary Clinton a six-point lead, but this is still far too close for comfort for a candidate with every possible advantage.
Despite the tightening of the polls, Iowa has provided Hillary Clinton with a majority of its votes, in a reversal of eight years ago. Alas, New Hampshire is looking like a lock for neighbouring son Bernie Sanders, in another reversal of the result from 2008. However, while losing New Hampshire would be embarrassing for Hillary Clinton, it would not be terminal, especially when the direction of the race is considered. As a local candidate, Senator Sanders is likely to exceed expectations in New England, but then run into problems. Even if the vote in New Hampshire is closer than Hillary Clinton would like, as soon as the race heads south and west, the demographics swing in her favour, particularly in South Carolina, where African-Americans constitute the majority of Democratic Party voters. A strong showing in South Carolina should establish Hillary Clinton as the frontrunner, irrespective of results in New Hampshire, and enable her to go into the Super Tuesday primaries on 1 March confident of a strong showing that could effectively end the race in her favour.
With remarkable insight, James D. Boys reveals the political ideology and core principles that have remained a constant throughout Hillary Clinton's truly extraordinary life. Get your copy of Hillary Rising now!