Why Wouldn’t Hillary Clinton Run for President?
A great deal of the 2016 presidential race speculation has been confined to the Republican side. The reason for this is fairly obvious; most analysts and media sources are fairly confident, at least for now, that Hillary Clinton will run and be the favorite candidate on the left. This makes discussion of the myriad of different potentials in the GOP more interesting, especially since the favorite remains a toss-up.
There have been a number of signs and hints from Clinton that she’s quite serious about a potential run, including a book tour, increased public appearances, and quite a few comments during speeches. Yet there are no sure things at this point, as Cook Political Report reminds us with a 60% to 70% estimated likelihood that Clinton will follow through with a presidential campaign.
MSNBC made particular note of this after another publication — the Kansas City Star — mistakenly reported Cook as having given Clinton only a 25-30% chance of running, which would be quite the departure from popular opinion (and probably reality). Still, a 40-30% chance that Clinton might not run is significant given the level of confidence so many have in her participation thus far, making any dissuading factors a worthwhile line of thought. Why wouldn’t Clinton want to run? What would be the biggest negatives in her considerations?
1. Her polls don’t suggest as good a chance of winning
If Hillary Clinton is going to sacrifice many months of her life for a likely vicious and difficult campaign, she’ll want to have as much data as possible suggesting she’d be able to win an election. While initial polls were highly positive in February, as is clear in a Gallup poll graphed below, her numbers have been taking some hits as time has gone on and discussion of her career, qualifications, and candidacy has continued.
According to FiveThirtyEight, polls on party preference in the 2016 election have Republicans at a slight advantage — though these don’t indicate actual voter turnout, and name recognition advantages are lost somewhat by such a general examination. But when you get down to Clinton-specific polling, the results are not significantly more positive. In fact, collections of polls over the last few years show her popularity dropping — possibly a result of the Benghazi scandal, or simply a matter of increased discussion due to campaign potential. FiveThirtyEight’s graph of some of these polls shows the droop in numbers, and other polling centers have had similarly grim news.
2. Democrats aren’t feeling the love
While Clinton has distanced herself in ways from President Barack Obama — whose poor approval numbers some have suggested may have hurt Democrat’s chances in the Senate election this year — she’d be running at a particularly unfriendly time for Democrats.
The fact that she herself ran against President Obama won’t combat the fact that so many are frustrated with the party, and she’ll need to wade through that as well as other political barbs. There’s nothing worse than knowing you’re polling numbers are worsening, and that someone else’s polling numbers might make matters even worse.
3. Grandmother versus the presidency
Many are irritated by discussion of whether or not Clinton can be a “good” grandmother and still run for president, or whether or not her age factors into this consideration, whether or not being a grandmother would be a distraction, etc.. These arguments are indeed annoying, but one question is not — and it’s made legitimate by the fact that Clinton herself brought it up in June during an interview with People magazine. Does she want to sacrifice the time and attention she might spend with her family — including her new grandchild (congratulations to Chelsea Clinton) — in order to participate in a cut-throat, high stress, and demanding campaign next year, not to mention the years of stressful and draining work ahead should she win the executive.
Any president would likely tell you that campaigning and servicing in office is demanding. It takes away from your personal time and family time, and whether or not to run is simply a personal decision as to whether or not the sacrifice is worthwhile. “I know I have a decision to make,” she told People in June. “But part of what I’ve been, is everything I’m interested in and everything I enjoy doing — and with the extra added joy of ‘I’m about to become a grandmother,’ I want to live in the moment. At the same time I am concerned about what I see happening in the country and in the world.” Whichever she chooses, we’ll know just after the new year, when she’s said she’ll announce her decision.
Follow Anthea Mitchell on Twitter @AntheaWSCS