Hillary Clinton vs. John McCain. The most hated, partisan Democrat versus one of the most independent, well liked Republicans. A race we can win?

I’m not talking about the reality of either candidate here. I’m talking public perception. And I’m not talking about ridiculous General Election polls. But we face a real choice soon, so who we want Representing out party this fall, and who can win in the fall. Right now, the two most likely nominees look to be John McCain versus Hillary Clinton. And I see some real problematic issues for Democrats is this is the race this fall, and I will elaborate below.

I believe that Hillary Clinton facing John McCain is a potential electoral disaster for Democrats this fall. And this is why, no GE polls included, just cold, hard facts and projections.

The Issues that Will Matter this Fall

Iraq War

If we are to win in November, we need to provide a stark contrast to Republicans on the War in Iraq. John Kerry did not do this in 2004. Did you know what John Kerry wanted to do in Iraq? Exactly.

Look at John McCain’s voting record on Iraq versus that of Hillary Clinton, from ontheissues.

Voted YES on authorizing use of military force against Iraq. (Oct 2002) – BOTH
Voted YES on $86 billion for military operations in Iraq & Afghanistan. (Oct 2003) – BOTH
Voted YES on requiring on-budget funding for Iraq, not emergency funding. (Apr 2005) – BOTH
Voted YES on designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as terrorists. (Sep 2007) – BOTH
Voted NO on redeploying troops out of Iraq by July 2007. (Jun 2006) – BOTH

Only at the end of 2006, when public tide was firmly against the war, did Hillary change her stances. But for all purposes, their war voting record is, for 85% of their time together in the Senate, IDENTICAL.

Reform: Ethics, Campaign Finance, and Lobbyists

One of the reasons that we won back the House and the Senate in 2006 was the fact that Americans were sick of the ethics mess in Washington, and sick of corruption and special interests taking over in Washington.

So what we need is a campaign between one candidate is for reform, and another who stood out in the primary as not being willing to reduce the influence of special interests in her campaign.

Yes. Her. “Lobbyists are people, too

McCain did push campaign finance reform, and supports publicly financed campaigns. He also has his own issues with lobbyists, but he did help author the landmark ethics reform with, uh, Barack Obama. But with Hillary Clinton, this powerful, persuasive message is off the table, and potentially, could be used against Hillary.

Big loss for Democrats, especially if we get perceived as the party of lobbyists and special interest because of our candidate taking more Lobbyist money than anyone else.. And it only gets worse. Hillary has taken more PAC and Lobbyist money than any candidate, Democrat or Republican, and far more than McCain (source: Open Secrets ). How will that play against the Maverick from Arizona?

Norman Hsu anyone?


Just look at this list, of the amount of pork-barrel spending by each Presidential candidate in the most recent budget.

Hillary Clinton: $530 Million
Chris Dodd: $100 Million
Joe Biden: $67 Million
Barack Obama: $40.6 Million
John McCain: $0

So who’s the one that is going to bring change to Washington? The #1 pork barrel spender in the Senate, or the man who rails again “the bridge for nowhere” and Hillary’s “Woodstock museum”? Or the man who (in this instance, at least) stood up and actually matched his rhetoric with action?

In a time when voters are looking for someone who is different, McCain can win this argument. Handily.


McCain has the sad, but unfortunately important designation. His stance on the War is far more consistent than Hillary’s. He has served in the Military, and he’s running on the same argument as Hillary, experience. A comparison of their experience in raw numbers, years.

John McCain
Legislative: 26 (4 Congressional, 22 US Senate)
Executive: 0
Foreign Policy: 10+ (Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, Senate Armed Forces Committee)
Military: 13 Military, Including spent five and a half years in a POW camp.
Other: 4 (Navy Liason to the US Senate)

Hillary Clinton
Legislative: 8 (8 Senatorial)
Executive: 0
Foreign Policy: 5 (Senate Armed Forces Committee)
Military: None
Other: 20 Years as either Arkansas first lady, or First Lady, part time lawyer, etc.

I think it’s clear who wins the experience battle. Does that mean Hillary, the wife of a former President, will try to run on change?


Last, but not least, take a look at these Favorables and Unfavorables.

ClintonFavorable 47%Neutral 11%Negative 41%Net Fav: +6%
McCainFavorable 34%Neutral 26%Negative 22%Net Fav: +23%

So, for Hillary to win, she has to do one of two things. #1, improve her favorability, or #2 Bring McCain down. Considering that we’ve known her for 16 years, it’s almost impossible for Clinton to change her public perception enough to overcome this barrier. So its bring McCain down, with a nasty, negative campaign. Kinda like what Romney tried in New Hampshire. How did that work out for him?

Now, this is not to say that Hillary will lose in the fall. But I want to show that, GE polls notwithstanding, there are reasons that Hillary is a weak candidate against someone like John McCain. We cede the independents, and hope that turnout isn’t too high, and try to win in the same states that Kerry and Gore tried, hoping that this time, we do it. We have to deal with her public perception, with McCain’s far more positive perception, and all these factors point to an upward battle for Democrats.

Just a warning.
Crossposted at DailyKos

Free weekly roundups, straight to your inbox


Asia Undercovered: Get the stories on Asia that mainstream media doesn’t cover.




You've signed up! Please check your email to confirm.