Iowa Snapshot of November Hypotheticals


To the degree that Hillary Clinton is still really pursuing an upset in Texas and Ohio and not in fact negotiating for other positions in Obamaland, this polling data from the Des Moines Register is going to be hard to shake off.
The poll finds the following in possible pairing in the November presidential race:

Obama 53% – McCain 36%
Clinton 40% – McCain 49%

These are snapshots now. Numbers can change dramatically as a race nears — as we have seen in the Obama-Clinton race. This snapshot is of just one state as well.
But the hill keeps getting steeper and steeper for the Clinton team.
All this said, I have to say that I am extremely disappointed in Barack Obama’s use of the “Harry and Louise II” ads criticizing Hillary Clinton’s health care policy proposals. For me, it’s one of the very low points in this race. Obama should pull the ads and apologize.

— Steve Clemons


27 comments on “Iowa Snapshot of November Hypotheticals

  1. susan says:

    Steve writes:
    “…you are right that I’m quite taken with Chuck Hagel’s “foreign policy” template — but last time I checked, he disappointed me and chose not to run for the presidency.”
    I am so sorry that Hagel disappointed you; however, he made the right decision. You may not be sufficiently interested in getting to the bottom of his highly dubious election successes, but there is compelling evidence to suggest that “Senator” Hagel is much like Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “[to] feel his title / Hang loose upon him, like a giant’s robe / Upon a dwarfish thief.”


  2. Carroll says:

    I said earlier and agree with SC and others that for universal health care to work it must be mandated for everyone. And I see no problem with that. There are all kinds of enforced “mandates” on the public like uninsured motorist coverage. How dumb is that? Have a frigign fit over being forced to carry health insurance but meekly accept paying for damage insurance for drivers who don’t carry insurance. The public needs to grow up and consider that health insurance is at least as important as car insurance. And people aren’t helping with all this “the public won’t accept being forced so do baby steps”, they are just helping the elements that don’t want to see health care reform. If you try it in baby steps it will never make it out of the cradle and be labeled a failure..exactly what some would like to see happen.
    And I have really don’t have a lot of interest in who is being naughty and who is being nice. There are three considerations, in the following order, in picking the next president:
    1)Government Reform
    2)Foreign policy reform
    3)Economic reform
    Number one will naturally help straighten out 2 and 3. After that we can quibble over everything else that needs doing.
    And oh yea, every year I say I am not voting for any more lesser of evils and end up doing it’a natural reflex like breaking for the surface when you are drowning.
    Which means…Anyone but McCain.


  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I’ve been buggin’ Steve to comment about Hagel’s criminal failure to disclose his ties to ES&S for a coupla years now. Obviously, it ain’t gonna happen.
    But it illustrates how little attention is paid to a politician’s ethical standards, as long as the politician adheres to focused areas of an advocate’s interests. In this case, Steve’s admiration for Hagel’s foreign policy ideas has comnpletely superceded, (by Steve’s own admission), any interest he has had in examining whether or not he has been advocating for just another Washington crook.
    You see the same dynamic in play with those advocating for any of these slimey posturing frauds. Those advocating for McCain ignore his ties to the Keating mess. How much space could we devote to the scandals Hillary has been implicated in? Then there’s Obama, with his deep pocket status quo sponsors, only now being brought into the daylight.


  4. Steve Clemons says:

    Susan — you are right that I’m quite taken with Chuck Hagel’s “foreign policy” template — but last time I checked, he disappointed me and chose not to run for the presidency. I don’t know enough about the questions about the Nebraska race and thus won’t comment. I’m too busy with other matters now — and Ohio and Florida both seemed to be higher on the charts of concern. But had he run, you are correct that I would have had to subject Hagel’s profile to serious scrutiny as well on many aspects of his work and interests than just foreign policy. But on that front, I can say confidently that none of the candidates available for us to vote on have met the high standard that a Hagel set. . .and I’d add Biden to that mix as well. . .even Chris Dodd. The foreign policy templates these three represent are collectively and individually better than Obama, Clinton and McCain — but we have to work with what we have.
    best regards,
    Steve Clemons


  5. susan says:

    Steve says:
    “….but I am not one to give any of the candidates — any of them — a pass when they resort to strategies like this that undermine serious policy efforts…”
    Straight Shooter Steve’s a stickler for making sure candidates are held accountable for their campaign literature. However, when it comes to the subject of Chuck Hagel and election fraud, Straight Shooter Steve remains strangely silent.
    Too bad that Steve doesn’t find undermining democracy as offensive as undermining
    “serious policy efforts.”
    “The respected Washington, DC publication The Hill ( has confirmed that former conservative radio talk-show host and now Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel was the head of, and continues to own part interest in, the company that owns the company that installed, programmed, and largely ran the voting machines that were used by most of the citizens of Nebraska.
    Back when Hagel first ran there for the U.S. Senate in 1996, his company’s computer-controlled voting machines showed he’d won stunning upsets in both the primaries and the general election. The Washington Post (1/13/1997) said Hagel’s “Senate victory against an incumbent Democratic governor was the major Republican upset in the November election.” According to Bev Harris of, Hagel won virtually every demographic group, including many largely Black communities that had never before voted Republican. Hagel was the first Republican in 24 years to win a Senate seat in Nebraska.
    Six years later Hagel ran again, this time against Democrat Charlie Matulka in 2002, and won in a landslide. As his website says, Hagel “was re-elected to his second term in the United States Senate on November 5, 2002 with 83% of the vote. That represents the biggest political victory in the history of Nebraska.”
    What Hagel’s website fails to disclose is that about 80 percent of those votes were counted by computer-controlled voting machines put in place by the company affiliated with Hagel. Built by that company. Programmed by that company.”


  6. anatol says:

    Jan Lewis,
    You’re quite right that to get “to universal health care in this particular economic and political environment is to game our way there.” People who know the subject (e.g. Krugman) state emphatically that mandates AND VOUCHERS / SUBSIDIES (the latter are more generous in Clinton’s plan than in Obama’s) are the single politically plausible way to do just that. No mandates – no universal health coverage.
    This is why Obama’s demagoguery and lies about Clinton’s proposal are so revolting – they would come back to haunt him in the unlikely case that he will be elected and would try to keep his promise and implement universal health care. And your experience at the caucus confirms that the lies are indeed working for Obama and against universal health care.
    JMHO as well.


  7. rich says:

    Crying wolf when on the receiving end of tactics she herself has used, I think will not help Sen. Clinton.
    Both Clintons campaigned for NAFTA. Suddenly Hillary Clinton is griping she’s associated with the ‘accomplishments’ she relies on to tout her ‘experience.’
    Post-NAFTA, jobs that used to pay for health care either don’t, or are gone entirely.
    Having first hollowed out an economy that DID deliver pensions and health care, following up by mandating costs on the ‘recipients’ rather than fixing the system itself just doesn’t seem a viable way forward. Not while crying foul at being called on your own handiwork.
    The first Harry & Louise scare ad runs were hardly fair–but from the bully pulpit, the Clintons had every opportunity to fight back. Had there been enough for the buying public, and enough fight in the Clintons, Hillary wouldn’t be in this position now.


  8. Jan Lewis says:

    I support universal health care, and I’m aware that nearly all the policy-wonk types who do favor mandates. But it’s a loser politically. I attended my precinct caucus in Colorado, which overwhelmingly went for Obama, and I heard several people state that they preferred Obama precisely because his health care plan did not include mandates.
    I think the only way we can we can realistically get to universal health care in this particular economic and political environment is to game our way there. The forces against it are too rich and powerful for a frontal assault to be successful. What I think might work is a program like SCHIP for those who don’t have access to private health insurance, followed by a gradual exodus from private insurers to the public program.


  9. anatol says:

    Steve is right by agreeing with Krugman and calling Obama on his gutter tactics. This is even more important if you think that Obama has already won the nomination , because he’s fatally undermining the single most important cornerstone of progressive policy – universal health care, wo which he’s ostensibly committed himself.
    As for the numbers against McCain – they don’t mean anything at this time. Remember, Dukakis was at this stage ahead of Bush I by 15-20% nationally. Didn’t work out so well, did it?
    Sure, Obama is a better campaigner, much more organized, cynical and ruthless than Dukakis was, but this will not help Dems in November. I said this before, and will say this again: Obama’s nomination means McCain’s landslide victory. Don’t delude yourself by the fact that wingnutters don’t like McCain very much – they weren’t hot about Bush I either. They’ll still flock to the polls once McCain will scare the s**t out of them talking war on terror 24/7.
    Anyway, I’m not yet convinced that HRC has already lost. As Tina Fay said yesterday on SNL:
    “COME ON Texas and Ohio
    Get on board, it’s not too late!…
    Bitch is the new Black!”
    The hilarious video is here:


  10. Mr.Murder says:

    One of Obama’s chief economic advisers held Senior CEA and NEC positions and produced daily economic briefings for the President from the start of the Clinton administration.
    Ironic that he’d have the man run on anti NAFTA talking points and camouflage his own track record by assaulting universal care.


  11. rich says:

    Apologies are a two-way street. I don’t see any admissions coming from the Clinton camp.
    Re health care: the only discernible problem with the mailer is the omission that Clinton proposes subsidies (at least, so I hear). The use of ‘Harry & Louise’ is just deft messaging and effective politics.
    Mandates are a problem in that they force participation in a system that does not work. Subsidies are not a legitimate response to mandates. When a program like health care is riddled with systemic dysfunction, subsidies are just a band-aid on a rube-goldberg contraption–inviting ever-escalating costs.
    Without addressing root causes, including high costs, absurd paperwork, denial of treatment, profiteering, onerous processes, general disrespect–enforced participation becomes a pigs-to-slaughter scenario, fraught with risks for those being ‘served’.
    In an age where catastrophic illness means bankruptcy; denial of treatment is common, costly, inadequate care is rampant; and onerous, legalistic procedures rule–forced participation is frightening, and can look like the first step towards debtors’ prison. Right now ‘recipients’ can be denied treatment and get fleeced, after trusting the rigamarole will work as it should.
    Algeria and Cuba and Canada can deliver health care. Why can’t we? If the first solution is to enforce participation by those least able to pay, with the least power to effect positive change, who also happen to be the paying customer, then something’s seriously, seriously wrong. Make it a system worth participating in. We don’t have real markets as it is. And insurance companies & the profit motive have ill-served the country. I just don’t believe in the product. A subsidy can’t make it more palatable.


  12. karenk says:

    Since the prejudice against gender is greater than that against race, Obama will get the Dem Nom. Then as MarKL said, the Republicans will win the general election…again. Sad truth, but I call ’em as I see ’em. Don’t be fooled by these Dem primaries into thinking there is no more racial bias in this country-there is-but we’ll know for sure in November.


  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Lemmee tell you something, Steve. Until you can tell me why Building Number Seven came down, then you cannot offer me a presidential candidate that is worthy of the Oval Office, because they can’t answer that question either.
    And until that question is answered, NONE of the official story is credible, and any candidate that is not actively seeking the TRUTH is equally as uncredible.
    NONE of these candidates have sought answers, or accountability, for a myriad of events and actions that are unprecedented in the inexplicability of the explanations we have been offered, or the criminality of their execution.
    Until these events are thoroughly and honestly investigated and explained, and the responsible parties are held to account, this whole fuckin’ charade is a joke. It seems the American people are in a deep state of denial, and content to imagine if we ignore the past eight years, our nation’s course will simply right itself under the leadership of the very posturing frauds that set its errant course in the first place.
    What a crock of shit this whole terrible scam has become. Egads, we are really expected to vote for one of these people? God help us.


  14. Steve Clemons says:

    Bill R. — Thanks for your note. I disagree. There is no way to achieve a health care system that is universal and credibly subsidized — which maintains a backbone of privately provided health care without a mandate. I agree with Krugman with this. But appreciate your note.
    Dan K — don’t really want low points on either side. But I think that these ads are very bad — but so too has been the behavior of Bill C in various places. I have noted these on my blog before and chastised the Clinton campaign for its lack of magnanimity and marshalling of excuses when Obama beat them in various states.
    pt — I have not “largely remained silent” on Clinton campaign tactics. I tried to understand them, explain them and also criticized them. Whatever the Clintons have done or not done is irrelevant to the Harry & Louise ads that Obama is using. I have praised Obama on many occasions — and I reserve every right to criticize him as well. And he was totally wrong in deploying these ads. They are much more than about Clinton — they are about the thugs that blew up the last chance to get real health care provided to those who can’t get it today.
    Adrian — appreciate your note, but I think it’s a bit over the top. I have already acknowledged that Obama is going to win this race. Read back a few essays — but Obama made a mistake on this.
    For the person who said that this was old news — that is true. But I thought that there was a chance that Obama was pulling back these ads. My colleague — Len Nichols — made some very unfortunate comments about the ads which I disavowed the day I first heard about them. Some of Obama’s own senior staff disliked these ads — so I thought that he might have nixed them. Turns out that they went ahead — and to me, that resurrected the relevance.
    This doesn’t change the dynamics of the race at all….but I am not one to give any of the candidates — any of them — a pass when they resort to strategies like this that undermine serious policy efforts. And I think most of you agree — whether it is Hillary Clinton, John McCain, or Barack Obama going into the gutter. All of it should be called out — and none of it forgiven.
    Best regards,
    Steve Clemons


  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Amazing, the two camps are dismantling each other’s credibility at a healthy clip, aided by the mewling idiots still buying into this ridiculous media circus that the Presidential “elections” has become.
    In light of the disenfranchisements and corruption of 2000 and 2004, it astounds me that so much discourse ignores the reality of an easily manipulated and insecure process of balloting. You people act as though 2000 and 2004 were just figments of our imagination, and despite the fact that NOTHING has been done to fix the process, or hold anyone accountable, this electoral process will be squeeky clean, and the American people will actually have a voice. I hate to be blunt, but you people are acting like effin’ idiots. You are squabbling over whether or not you are going to put a known vindictive cut-throat criminal in office, (whose biggest fans are AIPAC and the arms industry), or some done nothing media fabrication whose biggest accomplishment is a speech he made in 2004.
    Aren’t any of you paying attention? Are you all on prozac?
    Gads, this country is in REALLY deep shit.


  16. Adrian says:

    Obama should apologize for nothing! After the tactics used by Billary? Give me a break. And lil’ meltdown yesterday was manufactured anger! That’s not real anger, it’s anger that you can xerox!If she can’t stand the heat, maybe it’s time she do us all a favor and GO AWAY!


  17. Bartolo says:

    Jason, re McCain: “The same higher standard will be held (one hopes) to McCain and his forthrightness since he is basing his campaign on his honesty and integrity.”
    Jason is aware of this, but it bears repeating: It will be all the other actors who get down and dirty this Fall, while McCain tries to remain clean.


  18. MarKL says:

    The GOP has been gaming the primaries—telling Republicans to vote against Hillary in open primaries.
    The idiotic Obama supporters think those people will actually vote for him in November.
    Hell no.
    If Obama is the nominee, he will lose as badly as Dukakis—or maybe even like Mondale.


  19. jim miller says:

    1. the mailer she had yesterday on stage with Ted suckland…was old…challenge your source on this…b4 you demonize a canidate please line up the facts.
    2. bottom line is that wage garnishment is part of her mandate…earlier in the week I challenged that as primary jibber jabber…WILL NOT SELL in legistlative reality—under any circumstances…it’s like a poison pill—ironic that it’s HRC idea…..
    3. She is scorching the earth today taking the page out of the rove playbook on national security in rhode island….very disappointing….time to talk about impeachment… Does ready on day one mean we lie when it’s convienent?
    4. Her rhode island speech is embarrassing and disgusting on may levels…she is a bush clone…talksd like bush…votes like bush…lies like bush…no better than bush….


  20. Jason says:

    The issue here isn’t the degree of low-handedness of Obama’s health care mailer. As political attacks go, this is a misdemeanor, and arguably not as damaging than Clinton’s last minute, under-the-radar mailing in N.H. that distorted Obama’s pro-choice record.
    The issue is that Obama is running on a message of above-the-fray, non-partisan politics, and his campaign tactics will be judged on a stricter standard because of this. The same higher standard will be held (one hopes) to McCain and his forthrightness since he is basing his campaign on his honesty and integrity.
    It is not enough for Obama or his supporters to argue that “our opponent does it too” because part of his appeal is that he is an atypical politician.
    I don’t like the Obama campaign’s health care mailer for this and a few other reasons, but even accounting for Obama being held to a higher standard, I think Steve is treating a political misdemeanor as a felony.
    Perhaps the attack seems harsher because it is against a fellow Democrat, but when an elected Republican representative is already falsely claiming that Obama doesn’t say the pledge of allegiance, I think a few months down the road we are going to laugh at the amount of attention paid to this issue.


  21. Dan Kervick says:

    Is the “Harry and Louise II” commercial still running anywhere?


  22. pt says:

    You stayed largely silent on Clinton’s negative tactics in SC and elsewhere. Now you call this a low point. Shame on you.


  23. Dan Kervick says:

    You want low points, Steve? Clinton has in at least three states that I know of resorted to election eve mailings full of distortions and misrepresentations about Obama’s record on choice issues, and his “present” votes in the Illinois legislature.
    This is a cowardly, low-ball technique. If you have a strong and serious charge to make in a campaign, you make it early and in person and repeat it often. If you have a weak and misleading charge to make, you make it on the last day of the campaign on your way out of town, so that it can have an election day effect before the media and the opposing campaign have had a chance to correct the record.
    This tactic caused a lot of bad blood among pro-choice activists and voters in New Hampshire in the aftermath of the primary. Many of them feel they were duped or manipulated by a dishonest campaign tactic.
    Of course the Obama campaign has responded to this slimy tactic by simply defending their record with a reasonable amount dignity, instead of staging a phony emotional meltdown.


  24. Carroll says:

    I like to know if Clinton’s campaign is really doing this or not…attacking Obama on the Jewish/Israel issue. I have seen some smears aimed at Obama from some of the jewish and evangelical groups and if Hillary is doing this then I feel justified in my fears of her foreign policy attitude and am willingly to throw the dice on Obama being even a ghost of a chance of somewhat reversing the Israeli fetish in our policy.


  25. ullariitta says:

    ……..Barack Obamas use of the “Harry and Luise II”……
    In all fairness Hillary should pull all the night before caucus/primary mailings spreading false info re Obama.
    We learned with John Kerry that if you feel it is beyound you to respond to out right lies swiftly and resolutely you lose.
    Obama has shown that he can give as good as he gets. No use being classy and sophisticated when your opponent doesn’t know what those words mean.


  26. Greg P says:

    And it’s not just Iowa, as someone who lives in Arlington and is involved in Virginia politics, I noticed this result from Survey USA a while back:
    Geography Surveyed: Virginia
    Data Collected: 02/15/2008 – 02/17/2008
    Release Date: 02/19/2008 10:20 AM ET
    If there were an election for President of the United States today, and the only two names on the ballot were Republican John McCain and … Democrat Hillary Clinton, who would you vote for?
    48% McCain
    45% Clinton
    7% Undecided
    What if it was John McCain against Democrat Barack Obama?
    45% McCain
    51% Obama
    4% Undecided
    It’s also noteworthy that most of the downticket candidates in Virginia see Obama as helping them in November, while they see Clinton as potentially hurting them. One candidate for a House seat to whom I spoke at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner in Richmond recently (no names for obvious reasons) brought this up without me even asking, and said it would be one of the key factors affecting his chances in November.


  27. Bill R. says:

    Steve, the issue of how to enforce mandates is very pertinent to the campaign. No Dem. proposal is going to go anywhere if it involves the government garnishing of worker wages to enforce compliance. The American voter likes a government that is a partner, but not one that is a bully. This should be debated and this is a primary difference in the two proposals. Hillary’s support for NAFTA is also extremely pertinent, especially in Ohio where the industrial infrastructure has been and continues to be gutted.


Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *