Clinton’s Electability Risk

Yesterday I talked a little bit about Hillary’s renewal of the electability argument, specifically that Obama doesn’t have it.  And as Marc Ambinder points out, this seems to be the story that the Clinton campaign is intending to pound over and over again in the final weeks before the Iowa caucuses

Unfortunately for Mrs. Clinton, this particular gambit comes with another risk that could end the contest come January 3rd.

Now, we all know the devestating effect that a loss in Iowa would have on the Clinton campaign.  Clinton has combatted the data that she has too many negatives to make a decent fight of it in the General Election by running the opposite way, by embedding in the minds of Democratic voters that her candidacy is inevitable, that her path to the nomination and the White House is less of a contest and more a coronation.

But in attacking Obama on his own electability, particularly with polling data and momentum showing him to be a real threat in both Iowa and New Hampshire, Clinton is potentially tying her own noose with which to hang herself (politically).

The reason for this is that now not only does a loss in Iowa or New Hampshire destroy her own inevitability argument, but Obama wins in either state also eradicates her electability arguments against him as well.

Imagine, if you will, the headlines following an Obama win in Iowa.  They will all hum more or less to the tune of, “Rookie Obama Beats Clinton Juggernaut.”  It isn’t merely that Obama wins, but that he beats one of the most politically powerful and talented players in the game that will be a large part of the story.

From here, any electability arguments made against Obama would be utterly silly,and ultimately self defeating.  Even if John Edwards manages to win in Iowa, Clinton still only has five days to keep up the assault before New Hampshire votes, and currently New Hampshire is in a dead heat with momentum moving in Obama’s direction.

In other words, the current track that Hillary is on now, she essentially has to win either Iowa or New Hampshire, and she has to do it by preventing Obama from winning either.  Otherwise, both of her arguments, Clinton’s inevitability, and Obama’s poor electability, both go down the toilet.

As would her presidential aspirations.

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