[Note: I’ll continue to use Lawrence and Rose’s Hillary Clinton’s Race for the White House as a companion to this series.]
In this conclusion, I would like to discuss the Hillary Clinton’s future in 2016 and what can be learned from her campaign in 2008. Obviously, Hillary Clinton’s future campaign is mostly speculation until she actually announces her decision about running, but until then we can work under the assumption that her nomination is inevitable.
The 2008 campaign trail had no shortage of landmark decisions. Aside from Hillary Clinton’s campaign, there was the election of President Barrack Obama and the Sarah Palin’s bid for the Vice Presidency. This year was a first for both the public and a media, and set new precedents about what is possible in American politics. This year of unconventional candidacies there is one takeaway: change is inevitable, whether or not America is “ready” for those changes.
One big advantage that Hillary Clinton has is that she would be campaigning after our first “different” president. While being a woman was almost certainly to her disadvantage in 2008, it could be one of her prominent features in 2016.
The book suggests that it was easier to vote for Obama than Hillary Clinton because as a man “he still looks more like every other president we’ve ever had than she does” (212). However, a March Gallup poll showed that regarding her personal characteristics, Hillary Clinton’s best selling point is the prospect of her becoming the first woman president.
The poll also showed that the next best selling point is her experience in foreign affairs. This is indicative of a change in status quo that Hillary Clinton can use to her advantage; that Hillary Clinton is regarded as someone credible in a “man’s job’ shows that people may be beginning to rethink the potential of a female politician.
In 2008, Hillary Clinton was constantly accused of “trying to demasculinize Obama,” undermining her campaign of experience and bolstering Obama’s campaign of change (212). If the these polls reveal a pattern, then this could mean that Hillary Clinton’s experience could become proof of her potential rather than an unsavory part of her personality. See: poll
Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2008 also opens up the question about how women should present themselves in major political campaigns. News media consistently focused on the barriers that Hillary Clinton had to face, but rarely covered the benefits of having a female Commander in Chief. To compare, Obama’s campaign was one that emphasized hope and change, which translated in the media as the benefits of a black president (not to say that Obama did not face his own challenges in the media, because he certainly did).
In 2016, Hillary Clinton can focus on the benefits on being a woman in office, simply because she has proven that she is a credible source of authority. Her work in CGI softens her demeanor without diminishing her credibility. The Clinton Global Initiative also emphasizes her ability as a community organizer, a strength that played very well in Barrack Obama’s grassroots-based campaigning.
To conclude, believe that Hillary Clinton would be coming into the 2016 race with some major advantages. The data from the first two parts of the series suggests that Hillary Clinton has the potential to work with new precedents set in 2008 to set a few of her own. Polls show that her Democratic nomination would be all but certain should she choose to run; unless her popularity suddenly declines within the next year and a half, these numbers should show little change.
Media still have changes to make, but as the social climate changes the media will have no choice but to follow suit. America may finally feel ready to believe in a woman for president.