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Three Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Won’t Be President

According to Thomas B. Edsall, guest OpEd columnist in the New York Times:

1. She is a woman.
2. Democrats tend to pulverize their leading candidates in primaries.
3. She is a woman.

Edsall doesn’t put it in those words exactly, but that’s the gist. And he offers some compelling evidence from the recent midterm elections:

Evaluations of men and women running for House seats in 2006 have turned up disturbing numbers. In the 42 top-tier “Red-to-Blue” races selected by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for intensive financing and support, 25 of the candidates were male and 17 were female. In those contests, male candidates batted .800: 20 victories to five defeats. The women faced higher barriers: three won and 14 lost, batting .176.

This pattern was even more striking in the initial group of “Red-to-Blue” candidates targeted as most promising by the campaign committee. Of the 11 men, nine, or 82 percent, won. Of the 11 women, 10, or 90.1 percent, lost.

Why do women seem to be floundering? Democratic officials, according to Edsall, have a “working hypothesis,” which is that “female candidates were more vulnerable on the issue of immigration, viewed as more generous with federal aid and amnesty.” Also, it’s suggested that women aren’t tough enough to handle terrorism. Women, in other words, are seen as being too nice.

Which all suggests that Hillary Clinton’s public persona — a lot of strength and only a little warmth — is calculated to negate an electoral bias against niceness. And it seems to be working. “Her campaign,” Edsall writes, “released a memo with recent data showing that 68 percent of voters describe Hillary as ‘a strong leader,’ and that 92 percent say they would vote for a woman for president – up from 52 percent in a similar poll in 1955.”

But do these kind of poll results hold up? Do people confess to pollsters how they truly feel about voting for a woman, or other minority candidates? In Freakonomics we offered evidence suggesting that black candidates do better in pre-election polling than in actual voting; and that a white racist like David Duke does better in the actual election than in polls. (Duke, BTW, was a featured performer in the Iranian Holocaust-denying conference, which I blogged about earlier.)

So here’s an open question: Is Hillary Clinton electable? And if not, is it because she’s a woman? And if that’s not the reason, what is?