Projecting Ahead: Hilary Clinton and the General Election

By: Alex Moore

It is now all but assured that the General Election to decide who will become the 45th POTUS will pit Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump (lol). The Republican Party now faces quite the conundrum. Clearly, Trump is the candidate that is desired by the majority of GOP voters. However, Trump is a grossly uninformed and unqualified candidate who will more than likely get obliterated in November and will likely drag down-ballot Republicans with him, possibly resulting in the GOP losing control of the Senate. I haven’t even mentioned the obvious fact that he’s a nativist xenophobe. My colleague, Jordan, wrote about the Republican Party’s tough choice in great detail, so I’ll defer further analysis of Trump to him (check his post out).  

I’m here to discuss Hillary Clinton’s upcoming General Election candidacy. While Bernie Sanders has yet to drop out of the primary and technically has a minuscule chance of winning the nomination, what we have known for years is now all but certain: we will have our first female General Election candidate in 2016. The historical significance of this alone is outstanding. I, personally, have always been slightly embarrassed that America has never trotted out a female head of state while some of the other most powerful nations in the world (England, Germany, Brazil) have. Fun trivia fact: from a Presidential line of succession standpoint, Nancy Pelosi (House Speaker from ’07-’11) is the closest we have gotten to a female President.

Clinton begins the race against Trump with comfortable leads in nationwide polls. One such poll places her 10% points ahead of Trump. Of course, anything is possible in this anomaly of an election cycle, and early 10-point leads have vanished in the past (Michael Dukakis led George H.W Bush by 10 points early in the 1988 race, only to lose to Reagan’s Vice President that fall). However, it will be very difficult for Trump to surmount Clinton’s early lead. It is very uncommon to see that big of a swing, particularly with candidates as visible and well known as Clinton and Trump. Moreover, Clinton holds early head to head leads in multiple purple/red states that Mitt Romney carried in 2012, including Arizona, North Carolina, Utah, and Missouri.

Another thing that plays into Clinton’s hands is the unprecedented unpopularity of Trump. His disapproval ratings are the highest we have ever seen for a General Election candidate in modern history, as nearly 2/3 of voters hold an unfavorable opinion of the bombastic real estate tycoon. Clinton herself is quite unpopular as well, but not on the level of Trump. One of Clinton’s biggest challenges will be mobilizing the energetic voter base of young people that overwhelmingly supports Sanders over her in the Democratic primary. However, Trump’s extreme unpopularity with this voting bloc essentially does the work for her, as they will be motivated to vote against Trump even if they don’t exactly want to vote for Clinton, per se.

Furthermore, two demographic factors help Clinton. The American electorate continues to do two things: diversify, and get educated. It should go without saying, but the overwhelming majority of minority voters 1. Heavily support Clinton and 2. Heavily disapprove of Trump. Democrats win when young voters and minority voters come out to vote. The prospect of a Trump presidency will more than likely motivate these two blocs to vote for Clinton. Highly educated white voters, even those who identify as Republican leaning, also oppose Trump. A recent poll found that among college educated whites, just 23% approved of Trump. To summarize, polling indicates that Trump’s pool of support is far too small to beat a Democrat in a Presidential election, particularly in the contemporary day and age where Democrats have won 5 of the last 6 Presidential popular votes (Bush in 2004 being the outlier).

Now for some fun speculation over which individual Hillary will tap to be Vice President (lord only knows who will appear on Trump’s ticket). Hillary is somewhat of an outlier of a candidate due to her deep experience as it pertains to foreign policy after serving 8 years as a foreign affairs focused Senator and 4 years as State Department Secretary. Typically, Presidential nominees are either Governors or Senators who have domestic chops, but need to nominate somebody with foreign policy experience to balance their ticket (think Obama tapping Joe Biden, who had long been a leading foreign policy voice in the Senate in 2008). Clinton essentially has an unlimited choosing pool. Fun fact: she can, within the realm of the constitution, tap Bill Clinton as her VP.

If I were to put money on it, my bets would be placed on Senator Corey Booker (New Jersey). Booker is young, balancing Clinton’s relatively old age. He is a rising star in the Democratic Party and as a Senator is well acquainted with what it takes to govern. Moreover, Booker is black and is a leading Congressional advocate of reforms sought out by the Black Lives Matter Movement. Booker has worked across the isle, mainly with Rand Paul, to introduce this kind of legislation. He would help Clinton energize black voters to come out and support a prospective Clinton/Booker ticket.

Senator Tim Kaine (Virginia) is another name that has garnered a good deal of speculation as a possible Clinton VP. Kaine is an influential Democratic voice on both the armed services and foreign affairs committees in the Senate, adding even more foreign policy experience to the ticket. This makes Kaine the VP who is arguably the most ready to step into the role of President, should it be needed. His main advantage over Booker is his geography. Booker is from NJ, which is a solid blue state. Kaine, on the other hand, is from Virginia. Virginia and neighboring North Carolina will be huge battleground states this fall.

The final name I will touch upon is Julian Castro, Obama’s Secretary of Urban Housing. Castro is even younger than Booker, and is Latino. Having a Latino on the ticket could help Clinton energize that important voting bloc in battleground states like Florida, North Carolina, and Nevada. However, Castro, in my opinion, lacks the experience and accomplishments to be picked over Booker or Kaine.

My apologies for the long post, but thank you for reading. If you would like for me to write about a specific topic or issue, please feel free to comment below or send an email to Danny.