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Eye On Candidates
April 13, 2015

Clinton’s Easy Path to Democratic Nomination?

Hillary Clinton's official announcement over the weekend has spawned a number of stories regarding her impressive lead over rivals for the Democratic nomination, while also noting she is far from an 'inevitable' nominee. Here, for example, is what the New York Times reported:

Huge Head Start for Hillary Clinton, but the Big Race Is Far From Won

...Hillary Rodham Clinton enters the presidential fray with a better chance to win without a serious contest than any of her predecessors. Her strength heading into the primaries has little precedent; if a primary candidate ever deserved the distinction of “inevitable,” it is Mrs. Clinton today. Yet nothing would be inevitable about her chances in the general election.

Mrs. Clinton starts in a far better position than she did eight years ago, when she was often described as the “inevitable” Democratic nominee but had clear weaknesses and lost to Senator Barack Obama. She holds approximately 60 percent support among Democratic voters in primary polls, dwarfing the 40 percent she held at this time in the last Democratic cycle. She appears just as strong in the early states, including Iowa, where she already trailed by this point eight years ago…

...many of her strongest potential rivals — like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and the former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick — have forsworn presidential bids. In 2008, Mrs. Clinton faced two top-tier challenges: John Edwards, the former Democratic vice-presidential nominee, and Mr. Obama, who was encouraged to run by much of the Democratic congressional leadership and matched Mrs. Clinton in fund-raising from the start.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has not ruled out a challenge to Mrs. Clinton. But despite the stature of the vice presidency, he holds a mere 12 percent of the vote in an average of recent primary polls — less than half of the 25 percent that Mr. Obama attracted in April 2007. His weakness is a telling indication of Mrs. Clinton’s strength, as well as his own limitations as a candidate. He failed to win more than 1 percent of the vote in two presidential bids...

It's almost a certainty her potential rivals for the Democratic nomination will enjoy renewed attention during the next several months, as Democrats looking to an alternative to Clinton consider their options. The question is, will any of them be able to take advantage of that attention to seize the mantle of chief rival to Clinton? If not, Clinton is almost assured of being the Democratic nominee.