FORT SMITH, Arkansas, August 1, 2013 ― Would a traditionally red Arkansas support Hillary Clinton should she decide to run for President in 2016. While the idea may be brushed off at first, when looked at more closely, it is not as far-fetched as it might appear.
The HuffPost Pollster’s average of the latest polls shows that a slight majority (51.7%) nationwide have a favorable view of Clinton. Meanwhile, she left the post of Secretary of State with an approval rating of 69%, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
And if one looks at Arkansas, in 2008, the Real Clear Politics average of polls had Clinton with a 13.4% lead in a hypothetical race there against that year’s Republican nominee, John McCain.
But there are five reasons why Arkansas is unlikely to go for another Clinton.
According to the University of Arkansas’ (UofA) 2012 “Arkansas Poll,” 32% of “very likely voters” in the state identify as Republicans, 30% identify as Democrats, and 32% identify as “independent.” But 46% of those independents say that they are closer to being Republicans than anything else, while only 22% are closer to being Democrats.
The state’s legislature is controlled by Republicans, after being overtaken by the GOP in the 2012 elections. It is the first time since Reconstruction that they have been in charge of it. This reflects a strong upsurge in confidence in the GOP, though it might only be temporary.
Most Arkansans do not approve of President Obama’s job performance thus far. A UofA poll in October 2012 demonstrated a 59% disapproval rating for the President. A Hendrix College poll from March of that year gave him a 64% disapproval rating. This seems to have resulted in a temporarily negative view of the Democratic Party in general.
She might come across as too liberal. Some progressive activists have claimed that Clinton is not liberal enough. To secure her party’s base, she might have to move more towards the left, which could turn off Arkansas’ moderately conservative electorate.
She might be too old. While Arkansas did fall under the McCain column in 2008, and McCain was 72 at the time of the election, Clinton will be 69 in 2016. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently pointed out this fact when he said that the 2016 Democratic field seems like “a rerun of ‘The Golden Girls’.”
When asked to comment about a possible Clinton 2016 campaign, Candace Martin, the Communications Director for the Democratic Party of Arkansas, responded, “The Clintons have contributed so much to our state and our nation. We believe Hillary would benefit our children and families as she continues her work to improve education and ensure hard working Americans have the opportunity to lead happy and healthy lives. That’s the kind of leadership Arkansans believe in, and we would support Hillary overwhelmingly should she decide to lead as President.”
The spokesman for the Republican Party of Arkansas could not be reached for comment.
The rule of thumb is that a presidential candidate rarely wins a general election without first securing their home state. There have been only three exceptions to this rule since 1804: James Polk, Woodrow Wilson, and Richard Nixon.
Arkansas is the place that the Clinton power couple called home for almost two decades, and also where Bill Clinton began his venerable political career. Hillary Clinton may well pull off a victory nationwide, but she will face obstacles if she cannot win over the voters back in the Natural State.
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