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Two Dem pollsters suggest Obama drop out in favor of Hillary Clinton

On the op-ed page of this morning’s Wall Street Journal, two Democratic pollsters make the unexpected case that Pres. Obama should drop out of the race for a second term in favor of Hillary Clinton.

Remember Pat Caddell, the long-ago wunderkind of Dem polling when he worked for Jimmy Carter in 1976? He and Doug Schoen, who polled for Bill Clinton, argue that if Obama has to filter all his words and deeds through a reelection paradigm, he will be unable to govern effectively during 2012. They assert that Obama might be able to be reelected, but only by running a relentlessly negative campaign against the Repubs. They note that Hillary Clinton has big approval ratings and in trial heats easily beats the potential Repub nominees. They predict that after winning big in 2012, Clinton would be well-positioned to strike the kind of historic bipartisan deficit reduction bargain that her husband did during his second term.

I doubt this is going anywhere, but it’s a big suggestion. Here’s a taste of it in the two pollsters’ own words, along with their disclaimer that the Clintons put them up to it:

“By going down the re-election road and into partisan mode, the president has effectively guaranteed that the remainder of his term will be marred by the resentment and division that have eroded our national identity, common purpose, and most of all, our economic strength. If he continues on this course it is certain that the 2012 campaign will exacerbate the divisions in our country and weaken our national identity to such a degree that the scorched-earth campaign that President George W. Bush ran in the 2002 midterms and the 2004 presidential election will pale in comparison.

We write as patriots and Democrats—concerned about the fate of our party and, most of all, our country. We do not write as people who have been in contact with Mrs. Clinton or her political operation. Nor would we expect to be directly involved in any Clinton campaign.”

Comments (21)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/21/2011 - 09:25 am.

    So, are they arguing for one term presidencies, or do they just not like Obama?
    A bit disingenuous.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 11/21/2011 - 09:37 am.

    I think they sense that most republican voters would rather face Obama next year than Hillary.

  3. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 11/21/2011 - 09:52 am.

    My thought as I read that piece in the Journal this morning is that it is rare to find something that phenomenally stupid in a national publication. It was dumb on a very basic level. Hillary, historically, is a far more divisive and far more partisan figure than Barack Obama. She just doesn’t happen to be in a partisan job now. Most notably, the president succeeded, where she failed, in the enactment of health care reform, because he, unlike Hillary was able to work effectively across a partisan divide in the nation, if not in the Congress. Obama isn’t a very partisan figure generally, something with which his base has a problem. To the extent he has been partisan, it’s because he has pursued a Democratic political agenda, particularly health care, which is exactly what Democrats elected him to do. Schoen and Caddell believe Democrats would have an easier time getting elected if they governed like Republicans. To begin with, that in itself is an example of gross political naivete since any Democrat of any political views will be attacked by Republicans. But also, it simply makes little sense to work to put Democrats in office if they are going to act like Republicans. Republicans make much better Republicans than Democrats do.

  4. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 11/21/2011 - 10:08 am.

    Pat Caddell publicly left the Democratic party in 1988, and his public presence since then has mostly ripping Democrats on Fox News. This is a guy who thinks environmentalism is a anti-capitalist conspiracy, and one of the nuts who supporting the government intrusion into the Teri Schaivo case. It is pretty dishonest (but very convenient for his Fox News gig) for Caddell to call himself a Democrat, and really, really sloppy reporting for you to characterize him as a Democratic pollster, Eric.

    Schoen has better Democratic credentials, but you should have mentioned that he also has a regular gig ripping Obama on Fox News, and that he worked on Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2008.

    That’s not to say there isn’t any buyers remorse for Obama primary voters, but the narrative that these guys are pushing – that Obama will be the one running the destructive campaign – is right out of the Fox News/Republican playbook.

  5. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 11/21/2011 - 10:08 am.

    The fate of our country?

    It’s pretty clear that the fate of our country is in the hands of a Congress with a controlling majority that really has no interest in resolving the problems confronting this nation. Their primary goal is the FAILURE of ANY Democratic president.

    Do these idiots really think that Clinton would find any more common ground with Congress than Obama?

  6. Submitted by Lance Groth on 11/21/2011 - 10:46 am.

    Pollsters tend not to see the forest for the trees. This is ironic, considering that they are trying to map the forest.

    All the talk coming out of these polls is about Obama’s low approval rating. That’s part of the picture, but only part. Elections come down to choices. Let’s not forget that Obama is polling about 30 points higher than Congress. In practical terms, that largely means the Republican House, because the media focuses on Boehner and his caucus. Now, Obama will be running against an individual, not Congress, but clearly repubs in general are held in low esteem. I recently watched Gov. Granholm, on CNN I think, talk about how her numbers resembled Obama’s going in to her reelection campaign, and for many of the same reasons. Yet she won by a higher margin than her first election, with 56% of the vote. Why? Because it came down to a choice, and the voters weren’t buying what the repubs were selling.

    Tactically speaking, I do think it would be wise to move Clinton to the VP spot, if she can be convinced. And, Obama is going to have to go far more negative in attacking repubs than he seems to be comfortable with. But in the end, he’s talking about a fair plan of dealing with the debt, in which everyone shares in the pain, the rich included. The repubs want only the poor and middle class to sacrifice, while exempting the rich. I think people have had enough of protecting the rich, particularly when the “sacrifice” being asked of them will hardly register in their swollen bank accounts. It’s hard to muster much sympathy for millionaires and billionaires when one is unemployed and losign one’s house.

    It comes down to a choice, and most voters are not left wing or right wing, they are in the middle, and they want a fair, reasonable solution, and above all, an end to the gridlock. The failure of the debt panel will only reinforce that. I predict an Obama win.

  7. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/21/2011 - 10:57 am.

    Just remember that the ‘experts’ were saying the same things about Clinton before she lost the nomination to Obama in ’08.

    She’s very competent, but she’s not the Clinton that wins elections.

  8. Submitted by Ross Williams on 11/21/2011 - 12:26 pm.

    This is just a demonstration of self-aggrandizing stupidity. The notion that the Democrats should choose a different Presidential candidate, whether Hillary or anyone else, through some backroom maneuvering is just plain silliness worthy only of the Wall Street Journal editorial page. In the extremely unlikely case that Obama drops out, there should and will be a free-for-all. Hillary might or might not decide to participate.

  9. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/21/2011 - 12:39 pm.

    I can’t speak to whether Caddell and Schoen are “true” Democrats or not, but yes, I’m inclined to be skeptical of almost anyone who appears with any regularity on Fox “News.”

    That said, however, Hiram Foster has, I think, the more interesting perspective, and I find it hard to disagree with the latter part of his comment. I’m not a party member, but I’m inclined to vote more for Democrats than Republicans, though I’ve voted for both in the past. As Mr. Foster said, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to elect Democrats if they’re going to behave as Republicans. “Republicans make much better Republicans than Democrats do.” It’s one of my chief criticisms of “centrist” policy – the “center” has drifted so far to the right that both Democrats and Republicans brought to the present from the end of WW 2 would hardly recognize either party now, and Dwight Eisenhower would be driven from the Republican Party as a traitor. Irony abounds.

    The Clinton scenario is a fascinating one, and I was more of a Clinton fan than an Obama one in early 2008, but the baggage that comes with a Clinton nomination is awfully heavy, not least of which is the question of what to do with her husband. She might work as VP – Joe Biden doesn’t get too many people excited, except right wingers when he suggests that paying taxes is patriotic – but since right wingers have already demonstrated their loathing of all things Clinton during Mr. Clinton’s 8 years, pairing Mrs. Clinton with Mr. Obama, who’s the heir apparent to all that loathing and more, doesn’t strike me as especially astute.

    As Paul Brandon said, she’s quite competent, but not the Clinton that wins elections. We don’t elect people at the national level on the the basis of competence. If we did, there’d be no explaining Warren Harding, much less some of his successors.

  10. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 11/21/2011 - 12:47 pm.

    And of course there is the little problem the Republicans have with their current clown car of candidates.

    None of them can beat Obama, despite the GOP whining about his unpopularity.

    In his next term Obama will not have to worry about re-election. And voters are finally starting to realize that the GOP has no answers to our nation’s problems. One of the most important things that can happen in terms of getting back on track economically is expiration of the disastrous Bush tax cuts.

    “No” is not going to work as an answer any more for the GOP.

  11. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 11/21/2011 - 12:56 pm.

    I am still trying to figure out what Obama wants to do in his 2nd term?
    We already know he wants to raise taxes and bail-out his special interest groups (unions, teachers, and public employees).
    Of course, if he runs for re-election with the campaign theme “more of the same,” he loses.

  12. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 11/21/2011 - 01:12 pm.

    From the Huffington Post today:

    “Pretend Democrats Rewrite Column Advising Obama Not To Run For Re-Election”

    “Douglas Schoen and Patrick Caddell, who pretend to be Democrats even though they do not support Democratic politicians or causes or policy platforms. . . ”

    This isn’t even a new piece. Its a re-write of a piece they wrote a year ago.

  13. Submitted by Ann Spencer on 11/21/2011 - 01:13 pm.

    I commend to your attention Jonathan Chait’s excellent article in New York magazine on why the liberal base is always unhappy with Democratic Presidents. Not that Caddell and Schoen are the “liberal base”—they’ve been beating on Obama pretty steadily for a while now and urging him to govern from the right. (And, while you’re at it, don’t miss David Frum’s outstanding companion piece in New York magazine on the current GOP.)

    Among other things, Chait debunks the rosy fantasy that somehow Clinton could have succeeded in overcoming Republican intransigence. How soon we forget!! The GOP spent most of the 90’s honing their Clinton attacks: Vince Foster, commodities trading, Travelgate, etc., etc. They’d be loaded and ready to take on HRC with the same focused messaging they’ve brought to bear on Obama.

    I don’t care whether these guys call themselves Democratic pollsters–I don’t believe for a minute that they have the Democrats’ best interests at heart.

  14. Submitted by Jeanne Harris on 11/21/2011 - 01:35 pm.

    What a couple of dim wits. If Hillary was so phenomenal she would have won the nomination to begin with. I suspect these two empty hats are shilling for the GOP- they need to “git somewhere and be quiet” as my Grandmother used to say!

  15. Submitted by Gary Peterson on 11/21/2011 - 01:47 pm.

    Folks positioned above or outside the partisan fray, in either party, usually poll above and beyond those mired in the day-to-day. Recall how high Hubert Humphrey’s polls climbed in 1975/76 – the longer he stayed out, the more popular he was. He stayed out, and Jimmy-who? went on to win election.

  16. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 11/21/2011 - 03:15 pm.

    “Dwight Eisenhower would be driven from the Republican Party as a traitor. Irony abounds.”

    Ray, Eisenhower was apolitical. BOTH parties approached him in 1952 about running for president and it was a while before he chose the republican ticket. Someone said they promised him he could play all the golf he wanted and no one would complain.

    These guys know that Obama can’t run on his dismal record and so Hillary could basically run on a clean slate. She also polls better than he does in a one-to-one matchup with the republican candidates where he doesn’t crack 50% against any of them. But, hey, don’t listen to me, I’m looking forward to Newt crushing Barry in the debates.

  17. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/21/2011 - 05:31 pm.

    Must be something inherently conservative about the fact that the righties never have anything new to say.

  18. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/21/2011 - 05:58 pm.

    Heh, heh, heh.

  19. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 11/21/2011 - 07:22 pm.

    Please let Mrs. Clinton just fade away after she leaves the SoS job after the President wins re-election.

    #5 When did the Republicans take control of the Senate? Congress has only a controlling majority of people without spines. The fate of our country will continue to be decided by President Obama through early 2016 at which point we will hopefully elect some competence.

  20. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 11/21/2011 - 10:22 pm.

    If/when Mr. Obama wins a second term, he will I HOPE stop trying to please the Right and give up believing that compromise with it is possible.

    He needs to fire all the Goldman Sachs alumni on the administrative payroll and also replace Hillary Clinton with a Secretary of State who does not still seem to support the neocon goal of destroying the Axis of Evil: Iraq, Iran, Syria, in that order; and who does not bend over backward to please Christian Zionist fundamentalists and others who put Israel’s wishes to destroy Iran and render the Palestinians helpless and hopeless above our own interests and of justice for the Palestinians.

  21. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 11/22/2011 - 09:43 am.

    While the Super Committee is acting like another politburo; same old stubborn-heels partisanship permanently embedded, achieving nothing…then along comes a couple of twerp pollsters tweaking the public imagination by suggesting Hillary replace Obama?

    Don’t recall who started the latest story/weak rumor about Iran and their nuclear weapons, not energy program…although I can appreciate the fact that “everybody else has got them so should we” has some validity I suppose?…but Hillary speaks, bonds with Israel and is ready to start another war? Were H.C. ever to inhabit the Oval Office she would be actively supporting such an invasion…scary indeed.

    Certainly H. Clinton’s good buddy McCain would approve…but world view has never appreciated the Mary Poppins attitude waving her power surging umbrella over other nations; shaking her finger and demanding, always assuming ‘we’ know what’s best for ‘them’…while the world is chuckling over our glorified view of ourselves?

    Maybe there is no way out of this mess unless Obama takes a stronger stand…and becomes a dictator? But consider this..we don’t like bullying on the playground but we beg for bullying from the White House, now? Doesn’t seem like consistent representation for clean democratic policy?

    I can’t get the old picture from s few years ago out of my mind; of a smiling Bush Junior smiling over a turkey platter in Iraq.

    So next will it be a smug and smiling H.Clinton standing over a turkey in Iran at the latest established U.S. military base, shaking her finger at the world…virtual reality but these days, who knows…

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