Monday, February 29, 2016

Turnout, turnout, turnout

Bob Kuttner expresses his worries about Hillary Clinton's strength as a competitor for Donald "Il Don" Trump in the general election this year:

[I]f you think the Rubio-Cruz-Trump slugfest looks like a playground food-fight, just wait for the Trump-Clinton general election. Trump, seemingly, is vulnerable on wild inconsistencies that will be easy marks for Democrats and the media. But for every Trump liability, Clinton has her own blemishes that Trump will wail on. A recent New York Times editorial calling on her to release the transcripts of her Wall Street speeches was more withering than anything Bernie Sanders said.

In Massachusetts, where I live, the Democratic primary is on (super) Tuesday. Many of my Democrat [sic] friends are agonizing over the following conundrum:

Vote for Clinton and bring this contest to an early close so that Democrats can be unified while Republicans are still throwing pies at each other? Or vote for Sanders, either in the fleeting hope that he might yet win, or at least to signal Clinton that she needs to sound more populist[?]

The trouble is, at age 68 and with a long and well-documented record, Clinton is well past the age where she can re-invent herself with any credibility. It's hard to imagine what might rouse the enthusiasm of the Sanders base for a Clinton candidacy (unless perhaps Elizabeth Warren is on the ticket).

Republicans such as Karl Rove may be ready to jump out the nearest window over the destruction of the Republican coalition of social conservatives and Wall Street conservatives that he helped build. But though Trump is not Rove's kind of guy -- maybe because he is not Rove's kind of guy -- he could still give Clinton a close race in November.
I'll say again, as a rule "electability" strikes me as a squishy issue in party primaries.

But turnout in the general is a critical issue for Democrats. Sanders will have his own challenges in that regard if he's the nominee. So will Clinton.

It's very hard to forget that the Democratic Party is the one that is sorely tempted to use buzzkill messaging like this from 2014 from the Kentucky Senate campaign. I know I've used it before. But it's a perfect example of how Democrats mess themselves up by backing away from their own brand, (Alison for Kentucky TV Ad "Skeet Shooting" 09/15/2014):

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