Hillary Clinton has an incredible ability to overestimate her strengths, underestimate her opponents and misread the electorate. Eight years ago Hillary and her crew thought they had the presidency won before the campaign even began. We all know how that worked out.
This year they adopted the same "inevitability strategy," but with a little twist: they believed a race against Donald Trump would be easy pickings.
Team Clinton chortled over the possibility of a Trump candidacy. Their internal polls showed her breezing by a candidate they viewed as incurably flawed. They’d just hammer him for being anti-women and measure for draperies in the West Wing.
Their giddiness is already proving to be incredibly misplaced. Far from being a walkover, the race is already shaping up as a schoolyard brawl that could go either way but currently favors Donald Trump not Hillary Clinton.
A Quinnipiac Poll recently showed that the big triple — Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida – are all within the margin of error. Now national polls show Trump leading Clinton for the first time (from plus one, to plus five). The Clinton lead evaporated in a two short weeks.
Hillary Clinton has a penchant for misreading the electorate and, as a result, blowing leads. In 2008 Team Clinton thought they’d waltz through the primaries and be coronated in the general election. They misread both the electorate and their competition. Their bandwagon strategy collapsed like a bad soufflé.
That same “inevitability strategy” was their mindset as 2016 began. But a 74-year-old socialist who’s never attended a Democratic national convention has chased her around the track far longer than anyone would have imagined. Philadelphia, not Cleveland, looks to be the rancorous convention, at least if the first fights on the floor of the Democratic state convention in Nevada are any indication.
Meanwhile, Republicans are coalescing much faster than expected. If Trump can resist his urge to attack other Republicans and continue to unite the party he could forge a formidable base going into the fall campaign.
Will the math hold up for Hillary and Company in my home state, Pennsylvania, where Democrats have a nearly one million vote lead in registration and a 28 year winning streak? Look at how Donald Trump did in the recent Pennsylvania primary where he took a record sweep of all 67 counties.
In addition to Trump's across-the-board appeal among Republicans, there are issues that work against Hillary Clinton’s prospects in the Quaker State. She’s misread the electorate. In one recent poll Trump led her in “ability to manage the economy” by a dozen points.
One reason Hillary is losing the pocketbook issues is her public pronouncement that she’ll put Bill in charge of the economy. She's essentially saying she’ll hand off her job to her husband. That doesn’t work on several levels.
Hillary’s reflexive inside-the-beltway mentality also caused her to hype up anti-gun rhetoric, believing it appealed to her core constituency. “I think we have to try everything that works to limit the number of people and the kinds of people who are given access to firearms,” she proclaimed in a recent debate.
A quick look at the “kinds of people” who now hold, by their choice, right-to-carry permits, shows why she is way off base. Florida is the number-one issuer of right-to-carry permits in the nation, with more than 1.4 million. Pennsylvania is second. There are nearly 1.1 million in the commonwealth. Ohio is in the top 10 with half a million.
Bill and Hillary figured that the “gun lobby” was a bunch of hillbillies in rural and southern states. The numbers don’t lie. There are millions of them in the Big Three. They have families and friends, and they vote.
Hillary also misunderstands the impact of the safe and responsible development of natural gas. “By the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place,” she intoned at another Democrat debate.
Tell that to the more than 150,000 workers in Ohio or more than 100,000 in Pennsylvania and you'll get the same reaction as from the coal working families whose jobs she's already threatened.
Hillary’s rapid decline in the polls is two-fold: She’s a lousy candidate, personally distrusted and unliked by large segments of the electorate; and she’s way off base on key policy issues to boot.
Team Hillary thought they had Donald Trump all figured out. They prayed they’d get to face him in the fall.
As a result they focused their campaign on issues that people didn’t really care about. Trump was laser focused on things that matter to voters.
It's looking more and more like Donald Trump’s biggest asset may be Hillary Clinton. #NeverHillary may trump #NeverTrump.
Charlie Gerow is a political analyst for Harrisburg's CBS affiliate, appearing weekly on its Sunday morning show, "Face the State," which is syndicated statewide. He serves as the first vice chair on the board of directors of the American Conservative Union. He is the CEO of Quantum Communications, a strategic communications and issue advocacy firm. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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