You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

First Thoughts On The 'nyt' Endorsement

The New York Times just posted their endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president. Two quick thoughts about it: First, I wish the paper had directly addressed the question of her electability. It is, of course, impossible to predict what will happen in November, and, to quote from the headline of an article by my colleague Jason Zengerle, the whole notion of predicting electability is something of a wishy-washy, squishy-sqaushy pseudoscience. But it still matters, of course. And as Jonathan Chait argued in this space a few days ago, there's substantial evidence supprting the proposition that Obama would be a stronger general election candidate for the Democrats. The guy's not pulling in all those red-state endorsements for nothing. As Chait says, "I'm not saying electability has to be a first-order consideration--if you think Clinton would be a much better president than Obama and are willing to accept a higher risk of a Republican winning, then go for it." But I would have found the Times editorial a lot more persuasive it it had even begun to acknowlege that notion.  

Secondly, the closest the Times came to discussing Clinton in the context of elections came, not surprisingly, in a brief mention of her two prior campaigns to date: Her successful Senate campaigns in New York. In 2000, she was a sitting first lady who handily defeated Representative Rick Lazio, who understudied for Rudy Giuliani--not exactly a race of equals, but an impressive victory nonetheless. But let's look more closely at that second race, in 2006, which the Times accurately describes as "handily won." That handy win came against the hapless John Spencer, former mayor of Yonkers, and it carried an exorbitant cost for Clinton: Over $30 million, making hers the most expensive senate campaign in the country that year--and this against a non-entity, and in the midst of a statewide GOP breakdown. It's near-pointless to draw any conclusions from that. The presidential campaign won't possibly be so lopsided, neither in the opponent she faces nor her cash advantage. It will be a race, a tough one, and a lot of Democrats, if not the New York Times, are thinking hard about who's more likely to win it.

--Ben Wasserstein