The New York Times yesterday featured an article on Hillary Clinton’s electoral strategy for 2016. In short, she apparently is mimicking President Barack Obama’s strategy for his second term.

Instead, she is poised to retrace Barack Obama’s far narrower path to the presidency: a campaign focused more on mobilizing supporters in the Great Lakes states and in parts of the West and South than on persuading undecided voters.

Mrs. Clinton’s aides say it is the only way to win in an era of heightened polarization, when a declining pool of voters is truly up for grabs. Her liberal policy positions, they say, will fire up Democrats, a less difficult task than trying to win over independents in more hostile territory — even though a broader strategy could help lift the party with her.

There’s a phrase in those two paragraphs, “era of heightened polarization,” that’s worth reflecting on. I know how all right thinking people lament the growing partisanship in politics, but there’s a pretty clear cause and effect implicit here, though the Times won’t admit it: Obama in his quest for reelection, pursuing a narrow strategy, has increased the polarization in politics. Clinton plans to follow suit.

I question if this is a wise strategy for Clinton to pursue. I’m not alone.

“If you run a campaign trying to appeal to 60 to 70 percent of the electorate, you’re not going to run a very compelling campaign for the voters you need,” said David Plouffe, a top Obama strategist who has consulted informally with Mrs. Clinton.

Obama could get away with a narrow strategy, regardless of the consequences because he was a known quantity and there were enough true believers who he could convince to get to out to vote. Obama also benefits from being a political celebrity. But Clinton is running for her first term and is unproven as a president, which makes such a strategy riskier. But also the celebrity she has is less due to her own charisma, than to the reflected charisma of her husband.

That last quoted paragraph is notable because of the source. Plouffe (even if he’s informally consulted with Clinton) is widely viewed as the architect of Obama’s successful run in 2008. Why would he get this dig in at the presumed Democratic nominee in 2016?

Noah Rothman characterized Clinton’s run as The Scorched Earth Hillary Clinton Campaign

Is it possible that the Times is having doubts about Hillary’s candidacy? The political reporting of the Times, as evidenced by its hit piece on Marco Rubio, can’t be viewed as an objective news source but as an adjunct of the Democratic Party. So is this critique of Clinton’s campaign an effort to lay down a marker in anticipation of her defeat saying, effectively, that Clinton had an opportunity to build on Obama’s legacy but blew it?

[Photo: ABC News / YouTube ]


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