Hillary Clinton's Not-So-Inevitable Frontrunner Status

Roundup: Historians' Take
tags: Hillary Clinton

Jill Lepore teaches at Harvard University.

If the Presidential election were held today, Hillary Clinton would deliver her acceptance speech sometime before midnight tonight. Last week, a Times/CBS News poll found that a whopping eighty-two per cent of Democrats picked Clinton over both Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. Last month, a Quinnipiac poll reported that registered voters in Ohio chose Clinton over six possible Republican candidates: Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich. “If the election were tomorrow,” John McCain said, “Hillary Clinton would most likely be the President.”

But the election isn’t being held today or tomorrow or even next year, and Clinton isn’t even officially a candidate. Nor are any of the people she’s been squared off against, which is why mock elections are mostly meaningless. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted in February of 2006—as far in advance of Election Day 2008 as the current polls are of Election Day 2016—reported Clinton’s defeating six possible Democratic primary contenders, including John Kerry, Al Gore, John Edwards, and Biden. Barack Obama wasn’t even in the field.

The apotheosis of Hillary Clinton is not inevitable. She is an accomplished diplomat, a seasoned campaigner, and a formidable fund-raiser. But she strikes many voters as disingenuous and perhaps unethical, concerns that will probably be aired again as some thirty thousand pages of documents from the Clinton presidential library are beginning to be made public—more than a year after legal restrictions on the release of Presidential records expired. (“Hillary should own the women’s media,” a 1995 memo reads.)...

Read entire article at The New Yorker

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