Is Hillary electable?

At this point it is ridiculous to claim that Hillary cannot win, but her chances are overestimated.  I apply what I call The Angry Ape Test to the candidates.  Imagine each mimicking an angry ape, and ask how pretty or appealing the resulting picture is.  Most swing voters perceive America as being at war and so they demand toughness.  They demand An Angry Ape, if not at every moment in time, at least in principle.  Most Americans don’t find an angry Hillary to be a pleasant Hillary, whereas an angry, raging Giuliana fits his basic image.  Americans claim not to be biased, but at their core they don’t much like angry women; being female remains Hillary’s biggest barrier, even when explicit prejudice is absent.  Related prejudicial forces will keep Barack Obama from the presidency.  Being black, he is supposed to sound reasonable and intelligent all the time.  He is not allowed to mimic An Angry Ape.  Americans want their first women President to be like Margaret Thatcher — firm, no-nonsense schoolmarmish strength without much radiation of anger — and they want their first black President to be like Colin Powell.  We will allow "Magisterial" — I’m too strong to need to throw a tantrum — to trump Angry Ape, but Hillary can’t play that card.  Barack is too young, too inexperienced, and doesn’t have the military record.

Mitt Romney also can’t do The Angry Ape.  This same hypothesis suggests McCain still has some chance, though obviously his path to the top is no longer clear, given his limited resources.  He can at least do The Ape.  This is the main reason why I still think Giuliani will win.

Under this theory foreign policy disasters, no matter who caused them, will help the Republican candidate.  We will demand An Angrier Ape.


Bravo, a great analysis of what really decides elections.

Let's not say "Related prejudicial forces will keep Barack Obama from the presidency" when we can say "Barack is too young, too inexperienced, and doesn't have the military record."

The former is pretty much untestable -- no one goes on record as being biased.

The latter is sufficient reason for trailing Hillary at this point.

I recently has a former boss come across the room at a lunch to tell me he was voting for Hillary and it would be the first time in his life he ever voted for a democrat. He is so conservative he thinks the navy should bring back keel hauling. He said she may be an amoral bitch, but at least she is a competent amoral bitch. He is just sick and tired of republican incompetence and thinks all the republican candidates are just as incompetent as Bush.

Why is this fundamental issue of competence never brought into the election analysis.

So going off your theory of a positive (just in a horribly negative way) feedback loop of foreign policy disasters and Republican presidents, when can we expect the nuking of Iran to begin?

The biggest personal negative for Hillary is that she is perceived to be calculating and ruthless - but that's just the sort of person who can deal with the Middle East without getting angry. I think the sense of crisis in foreign policy helps her, turning her biggest liability (a cold, cynical personality) into an asset.

Question for the pro-government crowd, do you all find any of these candidates attractive? Do you really think any of these people will on net improve the lot of society? If no, then why maintain the faith in government action?

People will begrudgingly vote for Hillary. Not because they necessarily like her, but because there's no good alternative candidate, and with the Iraq war dragging on with no end in sight and Oprah making a fuss about health care, people don't have feel they have the luxury of apathy this time around.

I want to see a study about which Democrat will cause the most Republican voters to actually vote. I bet this would vary. I would guess that Republicans loathe Hillary so much that the ones who wouldn't normally bother to vote would actually drive to the polls in numbers large enough to swing a couple of close states. There has to be some elasticity in the number of voters who are willing to put forth the effort to vote within a given party based on the opposition's candidate.

But Romney has the best hair.

Why do you refer to the male candidates by their last names and the female candidate by her first name? Just curious.

because there are no other Guilianis, Obamas, or Romneys that have recently been President. Just a guess

Totally and utterly asinine.

I agree that US voters would prefer a Thatcher-like woman or a Powell-like black as President, who wouldn't.

On the other hand if Obama lacks experience then so does Hillary. She has been in the Senate for only seven years. Prior to that she had not held elective office. She has never held executive office. She has little experience of working in the private sector. Most of her work experience has been in political activism. Her one serious go at significant policy development was an abject failure.

On this basis her qualifications for the Presidency look decidedly thin. Her only objective claims to the job are (1) she is not a Bush; and (2) she is not a Republican. I can think of no serious candidate for President/Prime Minister of a major economy who has a worse CV.

How about Ron Paul as An Angry Ape?

We are at war, but a war people don't want fight, they want out, and Hillary, has a better chance of extricating us from Iraq than another angry ape like Rudy.

Nobody votes FOR someone. They vote AGAINST a candidate. Thus Hillary is unelectable.

Joe C, Thanks for a comment that makes sense.

"The biggest personal negative for Hillary is that she is perceived to be calculating and ruthless - but that's just the sort of person who can deal with the Middle East without getting angry."

This would only be good if she were on our side. I see no evidence of that yet.

"Most swing voters perceive America as being at war and so they demand toughness."

Isn't this an empirical claim that, if incorrect, entirely invalidates the analysis?

I agree with you. I think Hillary Clinton is a great candidate. She is extremely tough and is well respected by our nation. There is one problem however and that is that she is a female. I do not believe that this country is ready for a female president. In not only our country, but other countries will not give us respect with a woman leading us. Other countries will not take us serious if Hillary is our president. Even though she might be the best candidate, our nation will not see that. They will see her as a woman and that there is no possible way that she can lead our nation. She is a great candidate and a far more worthy candidate then her husband. Her husband accomplished a lot. I believe that Hillary can accomplish much more. Barack Obama is also a worthy candidate. With so much diversity in the upcoming election, it is going to be interesting to see who wins. There is one thing certain and that is this country is going in a diverse direction and a candidate will be chosen that our ancestors would have never imagined. This candidate will lead our country.

I agree that Hillary is the establishment candidate. I don't think she's a great candidate though for precisely those reasons that Jeffrey Rae and Joe C. described. If she was not Bill's wife, she wouldn't even have achieved the success she has. She's undoubtedly smart and tough, but people can be that and still be utter failures at politics. She does have the potential to be a good leader, but potential is not good enough when the office is the Presidency. Some of the posts above praising Hillary are not based on evidence, but hope and desire. That's a recipe for disappointment. I can't believe people are so cavalier about this - but the Republicans were cavaliar about nominating a governor from a weak executive state with a history of personal failures, so I guess the Democrats think precedent has been set.

Plus the dynastic angle troubles me immensely. If she wins, from 1988-2012 (over twenty years) we'll have a President from only two families. That is incredibly bad for a democracy.

8 years of incompetence are enough, and I desire the Furies to roast the GOP. But there are only three candidates with impressive resume of achievements - Rudy Giulani, Mitt Romney, and Bill Richardson. Each has faults, but they are far better than anyone else running.

Ha. Reminds me of this (although that's a knock on Republicans than on general election candidates).

Anyways, what's with the recent trend in trying to describe human behavior with apes/monkeys?

I do believe you will be proven wrong and Obama wins

Competence candidates have historically done pretty poorly. Both Dukakis and Dole ran as competence candidates and were beaten easily.
I think Tyler's predictions are good ones, the problem with trying to predict swing voter's behavior is that if they cared or were informed about politics, they wouldn't be swing voters. Thus to try to predict their behavior the less information you have about the candidates, the better/

Actually, I think Gore seems somewhat plausible as an "Angry Ape". And please note, he won the majority vote in 2000, so commenters "B" and "RM" are quite off base because they're attempting to use the Angry Ape theory to show why he lost. But the relevant metric here is the popular vote, and he didn't lose.

Gore hasn't done much (either during the 2000 campaign or since) to foster an Angry Ape image, but please recall his occasional unhinged seeming rant about Bush. There's some anger there, although I can't say how ape-like it is. And who can forget this passage from Richard Clarke's book:

"The first time I proposed [an extraordinary rendition], in 1993, the White House Counsel, Lloyd Cutler, demanded a meeting with the President to explain how it violated international law. Clinton had seemed to be siding with Cutler until Al Gore belatedly joined the meeting, having just flown overnight from South Africa. Clinton recapped the arguments on both sides for Gore: Lloyd says this. Dick says that. Gore laughed and said, "That's a no-brainer. Of course it's a violation of international law, that's why it's a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass."

Not that we saw much of that attitude during his campaign, but I think voters still drew a conclusion that Gore was at least as much of an Angry Ape as Bush - who ran in 2000 as that un-angry and un-ape like creature, a Compassionate Conservative. And - in line with the theory - he won the popular vote.

(Kerry, incidentally, said during the 2004 campaign that he didn't support capital punishment because it wasn't cruel enough. You might argue that this was an attempt to show his Angry Ape credentials, but if so, I don't think many people took it seriously.)

As far as the 2008 election goes...I think Hillary will get a pass. She may not do "angry" well, but I think she can do "cold-blooded and vindictive", and that's close enough. Ask yourself this - which of the Democratic candidates would you least like to have extremely mad at you? I can't really imagine any of them hauling off and hitting me, but I could imagine Hillary having my brake lines cut...

On the Republican side, the best candidate would be Thompson, for reasons which are obvious.

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