Hillary Clinton could not be in a better position for the November election. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, who appear to stand in her way, are actually helping her to position herself for victory.
Issues and ideology aside Hillary is way ahead of the pack in the the game of political chess and should have no trouble winning in November.
At the moment Clinton has the middle all to herself, which is something that every presidential candidate strives for. But it is not just the middle, it is a broadly defined middle that encompasses all but the most extreme ideologues on either side.
Bernie Sanders is serving as the "progressive" foil to Clinton's mainstream Democratic positions. He is helping to position her as a reasonable centrist. He is also doing well enough in the primaries to make to make the election look like a contest and not a coronation.
As an added bonus, he is doing well enough in the early going to make the former secretary of state, senator and first lady look like a bit of an underdog. Meanwhile it is becoming more and more mathematically impossible that Sanders can pull off a win.
Donald Trump is doing Clinton an even greater service. Like Sanders, Trump is helping to frame her as a reasonable centrist, but he is also doing severe damage to the GOP. In a Hillary v. Trump election, she can reasonably count on the votes of swing voters and even some Republicans who would rather try again in four years than make The Donald the de-facto leader of their party.
At the very least she can count on some moderate Republicans finding something to do other than vote in November.
The high turnout to stop Trump combined with the disenfranchisement of mainstream Republicans could even be enough to swing some senate and house races the Democrats' way.
For his part, the former reality show star is also doing all that he can to ensure that he loses the general election. In 2015 Whit Ayres, one of the GOP's top strategists, pointed out that Mitt Romney lost rather badly while getting 59 per cent of the white vote.
According to Ayres, the Republican candidate in 2016 will need 60 per cent of the white vote plus at least 30 per cent of the minority vote to win. It is unlikely that Trump will manage 60 per cent of the white vote, and his extreme positions on immigration and association with white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups will make that 30 per cent among people of colour hard to find.
Hillary can probably also count on the support of most sectors of the business community in 2016. Some of them may consider Republicans to be better for business most of the time, but Trump's isolationist policies on immigration and trade are definitely not good for business.
Additionally the first thing that virtually all business leaders want is stability. There may be things they want and things they oppose, but they all want to have some reasonable idea what is going to happen. That is not something that is on offer with Trump.
There is no telling what a President Trump, who has no experience in politics, might decide to do on a whim. "President" and "whim" are two words that no sane business leader in the world wants to see in the same sentence.
If everything proceeds as it has been, Hillary should head into November of this year with the support of the Democratic base, including Bernie's voters. Reluctant or not, they will want to stop Trump and she'll have Sanders' endorsement (she already does).
She'll have most of the business community, moderate and left-leaning independents, and some reluctant Republicans. She'll have the overwhelming majority of religious and ethnic minorities. She should have a strong majority of women working to elect the first female president.
Finally she'll have the Obamas and Bill (all master campaigners and fundraisers) out stumping for her on a daily basis. Under these circumstances, it would take a lot of hard work for Hillary Clinton to lose the White House.
The fact that the election looks like a chaotic free-for-all rather than a cake walk is part of the beauty of it. Sanders and Trump are making headlines with their surprising levels of support in the primaries. However, a general election is a different kind of animal. Many more voters will come out and the majority of those are less ideologically inclined than primary voters.
To the extent that any of this was intentional, the Clinton campaign team should get some kind of award for campaigning. On the other hand, if it was all a happy accident, they should pretend it was intentional in their next job interview eight years from now. It couldn't be going better if they'd planned it.
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