Notes on Hillary, 30 Months Out.
We still have six months until the midterms, which pundits now see as a done deal: time to turn to 2008! Well. Those six month may have something to do with the midterms, and I have not yet put either wing of the legislature in the "D" column, much less both. So it's a little odd to be talking 2008. Yet for the non-wonks amoung us, it may be instructive to learn how big a lead Hillary has.
Everyone intuits her lead in the horse-race numbers, and indeed they're impressive. In recent polling, she has a 24-point lead among potential primary voters against her next closest rival. She's polling at the not-hurculean number of 38%; however her closest rival, who ought to have similar name recognition, is at 14%--John Kerry.
The biggest advantage is money, however. Thanks to a quirk in the fundraising laws, Hillary is now amassing a war chest that will be worth something on the order of $40 million. She will have this warchest because she's allowed to roll it over from her Senate run this year, where she's expected to raise on the order of $60 million. For candidates like Mark Warner, the former governor of Virginia said to be a serious rival, no such warchest exist, nor could it legally be created:
By contrast, Warner, capping what was widely considered a surprisingly sound fund-raising season, had amassed a little under $2.5 million for his political action committee, Forward Together. But that's not the whole story. Thanks to the inscrutable wonder of campaign finance laws, Clinton can roll every penny that she doesn't spend on her Senate campaign into a presidential account, which is why she could well start a bid for the White House with as much as $75 million, on course to obliterate the party's previous fund-raising records. No matter how much a governor like Warner raises in his political action committee, on the other hand, the rules say that he can't spend any of it on a presidential run; it can go only for general political activity, mostly backing other candidates. This means that should Warner decide to run, he'll have to start again from zero, while Clinton is backing up 18-wheelers to the bank.If you haven't been following the race, you might think candidates will have a chance to bubble up into your consciousness. But the Hillary campaign is so far out in the lead that it is my fear she will be able to stop those candidates before they've begun.