Even with Barack Obama looking
more and more competitive in the fast-approaching
While there are plenty of other
reasons not to vote for her, concerns about
Partly, this is a consequence of states holding their elections in non-presidential cycles. Only 11 states elect their governors in presidential years, and in many states, some or all seats in either state legislative chamber are off the ballot. Meanwhile, the increasingly sophisticated gerrymandering of both national and state legislative districts further limits the ability of presidential candidacies to ramify down-ballot. Finally, because straight party-line voting is on the rise, the performance and approval of presidential candidates is less likely to cause partisan defections in other races. So, whether Hillary Clinton is a greater asset or liability than Edwards or Obama is secondary to the fact that neither she nor they are likely to have much effect on their fellow Democratic office-seekers.
Those who warn about “
In short, while Americans view Clinton about as favorably as they do her two chief rivals, Democrats think she is a better leader, Republicans think she’d make a worse leader, and a greater share of voters who do not approve of her actually disapprove of her--which sounds like a redundancy, but is not when you realize that many voters have neither a favorable nor unfavorable view of Obama or Edwards. If either of them wins the nomination, however, don’t doubt for a second that the Republican machine can’t or won’t ratchet up their negatives later.
Still, is there something unique
But at the heart of the
Of the 11 gubernatorial races,
three Democrats (
Turning to the Senate, Democrats
Jeanne Shaheen and Mark Warner look solid in
There is one other key factor to consider: Hillary’s support among women--the one demographic that is disbursed evenly across almost every precinct, county, and state in the nation--could even make her a down-ballot asset in 2008, especially if she can turn out under-mobilized, unmarried female voters. But the fact is that neither she nor her main rivals will provide a significant drag or lift for Democratic office-seekers. Pantsuits don’t have coattails anyway, so perhaps it is appropriate that a woman could become the first major-party presidential nominee at a time when presidential candidates don’t pull many fellow partisans into office with them.
Thomas F. Schaller is an associate professor of political science at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and is the author of Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South.
By Thomas F. Schaller