In his new LA Times column, Jon Chait smacks around the idea that Hillary Clinton is a strong presidential candidate:
A secular Yankee like [Howard] Dean is about the worst possible candidate.
Unless, of course, the alternative is Hillary Clinton. OK, maybe she wouldn't be worse than Dean. But she surely would go down in flames if she won the nomination in 2008. President Bush owed his victory in large part to cultural division. If there's anybody who incites cultural divisions, it's Hillary Clinton.
Her advisors point out that she's religious and speaks the language of Scripture. That's nice, but nobody seemed to notice it during her eight years in the national spotlight. She's painfully uncharismatic. Her only political accomplishment is that she won a Senate seat in an extremely Democratic state, where she ran six percentage points behind Al Gore. Clinton's supporters like to note that she's not as liberal as people think. That's exactly the problem. I can see the logic behind nominating a liberal whom voters see as moderate. Nominating a moderate whom voters see as liberal is kind of backward, isn't it?
For more details on Hillary's overrated Senate victory in NY, see this post from a few weeks ago. Here's the key passage, which makes the same point as Chait in more detail:
First of all, her 55%-43% win was not exactly a landslide. As the Almanac of American Politics 2002 points out, Chuck Schumer beat Al D'Amato by an almost identical margin of 55%-44% in the 1998 race for New York's other Senate seat, and Hillary was riding the coattails of Al Gore, who won the state 60%-35%. According to Barone and company, when you break it down by region, she won New York City 74%-25%, lost in the suburbs 53%-45%, and lost upstate 51%-47%. The latter two numbers are pretty good, but again, compare her to Schumer -- he won New York City 76%-23%, lost the suburbs 51%-49% and lost upstate 53%-45%. The figures are almost identical.
The obvious conclusion is that Hillary did about as well as your average Democrat in a Democrat-leaning state. While things could have gone much worse given how polarizing she was, it proves almost nothing about her ability to win over voters in the the battleground states of the industrial Midwest, let alone the South.