Gang Up on Hillary Day

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First it’s Drudge, with the frightening Asian hordes.

Then — as Jay points out — it’s Rudy, bringing her on as the boogeyman to scare folks away from Mitt Romney.

A few hours ago, Edwards piled on. In a noon conference call, Edwards staffers and supporters made their most passionate argument yet that Clinton on the top of the ticket will drag down state candidates in red-to-purple districts. They got some strong statements from Missouri pols along those lines:

“Democrats in the House hemorrhaged in the 1990s. We are now hanging on by a thread. If someone like Hillary Clinton is at the top of the ticket you can write Missouri off.”

-from Missouri Minority Whip Connie Johnson

“Someone like Hillary Clinton would be a lightening rod in Missouri. John spends his time in many of Iowa’s rural counties. Hillary is on K Street visiting with Monsanto and that’s her rural policy. Right now, Republicans have their heads way low, and its really easy to get my foot on their necks. But Hillary would give them cause to rise again.” [Shades of yesterday's hog-themed attack! -- amc]

-Missouri State Senator Wes Shoemyer

Though you have to wonder just how strong the Democratic ticket would be there even without Hillary on the ticket.

As others have pointed out, pursuing this line of argument puts Edwards in an odd position, because the unspoken message behind “I’m more electable than her” is “I also have the right sort of genitals.” Does the guy running the most lefty campaign of the top tier really want to, as the kids say, “go there”? Apparently so.

The Edwards campaign bolstered their electability argument with a numbers-heavy memo documenting the results for head-to-head match-ups between candidates, and it’s true, that, on average, Edwards does better against the GOP field. But even without taking a close look at the numbers, one can see a couple of conceptual flaws in using those polls as evidence. First, general election polls this early are snapshots of the horses as they leave the gates, not as they come down the home stretch. What’s more, these results might say more about the current general weakness of the Republican field than they do about Edwards.

What’s really tricky, however, is that Edwards’ pollster is using averages to make the case. Averages of polls mean far less than trend lines. And trend lines are hard to compare if, say, you have twice as many data points for one set of candidates as you do another. Which is the case for Edwards vs. Anyone compared to Hillary vs., say, Giuliani. Her average lead over Rudy is 46 to 44; not that impressive. (Edwards’ average lead over Giuliani is 47 to 43.) But consider that there are almost three times as many polls pitting Hillary against Rudy, and that she’s shown pretty consistent improvement. In June and July, she lost regularly (45 to 52, 42 to 49, 39 to 49). In the past two months, she’s beat him in five out of seven polls — and the two that Giuliani won were Rasmussen, so, you know, make of that what you will.

But, I’ll just say it again, it’s still very early, so it’s not like Hillary’s numbers mean that much either. Especially given the drubbing she’s been taking lately. Ha.

Oh, and the hits just keep on coming: As Jay has added below, she’ll be on the receiving end of some Romney-brand whoop ass this evening.

The calculations made by those attacking Hillary are different, though not substantially so. I imagine that her staff is crying all the way to the convention.

UPDATE: A friend asks, so I have to respond: I imagine that “Romney-brand whoop ass” would be totally flavorless.