Clinton Exaggerates Position in Polls Against McCain

There is a bizarre contradiction to Hillary Clinton’s only remaining strategy at this point. There is really nothing left other than hope that the superdelegates step in and override everything which took place in the primaries and caucuses. In other words, Clinton is hoping for an extremely undemocratic outcome. The contradiction is that she tries to make her arguments for the superdelegates to ignore democratic principles by making bogus claims which sound like they are based upon democracy.

One common claim has been that she leads in the popular vote, which is only true if you count Florida and Michigan where there was not a legitimate vote and if you ignore the caucus states where Obama did win fairly. Another argument she makes is that she is more electable against John McCain, even though, despite numerous advantages, she was unable to beat a newcomer like Barack Obama. To give the illusion of supporting Democratic principles, Clinton has often made untrue claims about doing better than Obama against McCain in the polls. Citing such polls gives both a false impression of electability and popularity.  CBS News has exposed this false claim:

During an evening rally in Montana’s largest city Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton explained to the crowd why she should be the Democratic Party’s nominee, but what ensued was a list of overstatements and exaggerations as she made her case. “You have to ask yourself, who is the stronger candidate? And based on every analysis, of every bit of research and every poll that has been taken and every state that a Democrat has to win, I am the stronger candidate against John McCain in the fall,” she said.

The problem is, there are a number of polls that show Clinton in a close race with John McCain, many within the margin of error, not including a few that show Barack Obama beating McCain by a larger margin than Clinton…

For days, Clinton has been grasping at almost anything to make her case to voters as the clock in the campaign winds down. Most recently Clinton compared the plight of Florida and Michigan voters to the struggles of the early suffragists and likened the primaries of those states to the fraudulent election that took place in Zimbabwe.

Just as her argument that she leads in the popular vote is both untrue and irrelevant (as the nomination is based upon delegates, not the popular vote), this latest argument from Clinton is also both untrue and irrelevant. Even if Clinton were to do better in the polls at the moment, polls taken at this time have little predictive value with regards to the November election.

There are several reasons, beyond many polls, why Obama would be the stronger candidate in November. One is that Obama has far greater potential for upward movement. Clinton’s strength comes from core Democratic Party voters but she has problems beyond that. Just as Obama has done less well than Clinton among white, socially conservative, working class voters, Clinton has done poorly in the primaries among black voters, the young, independent Democratic-leaning voters, more socially liberal voters,  and educated voters, and more affluent voters.

There is a far greater chance that Obama will make major inroads into Clinton’s supporters than Clinton will with Obama supporters. Many black voters will stay home in protest over the racist nature of Clinton’s campaign. The young, independent, educated, and affluent voters who do not normally vote Democratic are unlikely to back Clinton should she win the nomination. In contrast, we have seen that Obama does better the more he campaigns in an area. He has plenty of time between now and November to solidify his support among the Democratic voters who do not currently back him.

Another factor which makes the current polls poorly predictive is that, while Clinton has taken the low road, Obama has taken the high road. Obama’s criticism of Clinton has generally been over policy disagreements such as her support of the Iraq war, their differences on negotiating with enemies, and mandates on health care. In contrast Clinton has double teamed Obama  with the right wing on matters such as Reverend Wright. There’s far more in Clinton’s background which has not come up during this primary battle. Obama did not want to run that type of campaign, but I bet the Republicans will. Clinton might look like a strong candidate against McCain at the present time, but remember that John Kerry and Mike Dukakis also had strong leads this far out before the election. By November, should she be the candidate, I bet Clinton will fall in the polls as much as such previous Democratic candidates did once faced with a concerted Republican attack.

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