Negativity Works


Hendrik Hertzsberg, eulogizing Hillary Clinton's campaign:'s hard to find anyone who will dispute that if she had not voted to authorize the Iraq war, or if her delegate-hunting strategy had been as astute as her principal opponent's, or if that opponent had been a slightly more ordinary politician, or, perhaps, if her campaign messages had been more coherent and less negative, then she would have breezed to the nomination and made history all by herself.

Emphasis mine.

Maybe. Or maybe she didn't go negative early enough. For all of the media hand-wringing over her campaigns' attacks on Obama and her stupid pandering (both of which, I should say, I found shameful), she pretty thoroughly whipped him in most states that held primaries, which -- far more than the caucuses that Obama dominated -- favor the less politically engaged, who are the most likely to be persuaded by attacks and inconsistent messages. So maybe if she really wanted the nomination, she should have started smearing Obama from the get-go. Maybe she could have peeled away some of his support in Iowa, or really creamed him in New Hampshire, completely reversing his momentum instead of merely slowing him down until he could roll in South Carolina.

Regardless, the one mistake Clinton made that Hertzberg missed is that for almost a year, until January, Clinton campaigned like she was entitled to the nomination. She assumed she was going to steamroll, barely even campaigning in Iowa until it was too late. She was "inevitable," until she wasn't. She then adopted the "underdog" pose, fighting tooth and nail for every vote in the last half of the campaign. If she had scrapped like that for the first half, she might be the nominee.

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This page contains a single entry by Papa-Lu published on June 16, 2008 12:05 PM.

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