The Rasmussen Reports survey shows that 57% of voters feel Hillary Clinton is qualified to be president. As for President Barack Obama, 51% say he is fit for the job. Will she challenge him?
1. The difference between Clinton and Obama is definitely not significant. But anyway can you think of some reason why people could prefer Clinton over Obama (at least to some extent in this poll)?
2. Do you see any chance Clinton will challenge Obama in 2012, any scenario under it could happen?
3. Hillary Clinton is the Secretary of State. Would you say she has some political ambitions for the future?
Taylor Dark, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, California State University, Los Angeles
1. The reason that the polls show that result is primarily a certain amount of disappointment with the results of the Obama administration. While some achievements have occured, including passage of a major health care reform, major problems remain: high unemployment, growing budget deficits, lack of global warming legislation, etc. The most important issue is the failure to truly revive the economy. Obama is increasingly getting the blame for this, so it is natural that some people think of Hillary Clinton as an alternative. If the economy improves markedly, the poll results will change.
2. The only scenario in which this could happen would be a major scandal directly relating to President Obama, or some catastrophic mistake by him that reduced his approval ratings to an extremely low state. Neither is likely.
3. It is very hard to say. I have no doubt that she would like to be President, but as I have noted, it is extremely unlikely that she would challenge Obama in 2012. Therefore, that leaves 2016, and she will be about 70 years old then — a bit old to run for president. However, if she is in good health, my guess is that there is about a fifty percent chance that she will run in that year.
Barbara Perry, Professor of Government, Sweet Briar College
1. The simple answer is that Secretary Clinton is not president. Therefore, she does not suffer the blame for the economy and the oil leak. In addition, she nearly won the Democratic nomination in 2008, and she is very popular among liberal women. Finally, she always works extremely hard and is a very intelligent person. Note that she was among the few Obama advisors not criticized by the U. S. Army officers in Afghanistan. She is popular beyond America and is a role model for many women abroad, having crusaded for gender equity at home and around the world.
2. If Obama’s popularity slips even more severely, she might be persuaded to run, though I think she is a loyal team member now. The historic precedent would be Sen. Edward Kennedy’s challenge to weak and unpopular President Jimmy Carter in 1980. Kennedy failed, however, to get the nomination. Reagan defeated Carter.
3. Hillary and Bill Clinton will always be ambitious for power, though I think they have come to peace with the fact that they will never again live in the White House. Moreover, Hillary would be in her mid-60s for the 2012 election. She has said that she would like to retire and live a more sedate life (perhaps teach) before she is too old to do so!
Cary Covington, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Iowa
1. People often prefer someone who isn’t in a job to the person doing the job. In sports, you often hear complaints from fans who have a player who sits on the bench that they prefer to one of the starters. Since the player on the bench can’t make mistakes or fail to live up to the fans’ aspirations (and the starter can and inevitably does), the fans wish the substitute would play instead of the starter. Does that make sense? In the U.S. we have a saying: ‘the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’. It means that you think something you don’t have is better than the thing you do, but the person who has the thing you prefer thinks what you have is better. So Clinton is preferred because she is a hypothetical president who respondents think would do things the way they prefer. Of course, if she were president, they would probably be wishing Obama were president. In other words, there is only wish fulfillment going on here, no substance.
2. Not a chance. Ted Kennedy challenged jimmy carter in 1980, and his campaign created such animosity within the Democratic Party that it virtually ended any chance he had of running in the future. Besides, economic conditions are likely to be so bad that Clinton would do better to wait for 2016. Of course, by then people will think she’s too old. So there’s no real likelihood that she will ever run for president again.
3. Many people wonder that. Since she left the senate to become secretary, she’s probably left elective office behind. I don’t see her as a state official, like governor of New York. She’s more likely to follow the path of her husband, and advocate as a private citizen for issues that she believes in.
William Benoit, Professor, School of Communication Studies, Ohio University
1. I know some people are disappointed in Obama’s performance; I’m still surprised his numbers aren’t higher. Also polls have a sampling error so his “real” numbers could be higher (or I admit, lower) than the poll numbers show (and Hillary’s could be several points lower – oh higher- than the poll.
2. I do not think she would challenge Obama unless his popularity was VERY low-that would be seen as far too disloyal – especially given that he made her Secretary.
3. I think she will very carefully consider running in 2016.