Hillary Clinton currently leads her prospective Republican rivals in early polling for the 2016 presidential contest, but her chances of becoming the 45th president of the United States were dealt a potentially devastating blow on Friday as conservative pundit Bill Kristol predicted that she would win next year's election.
The Weekly Standard editor and former GOP operative points to a recent CNN-Opinion Research Corporation poll, which found that despite Clinton's quarter-century in the national political limelight, more voters think she represents the future than view her as a candidate of the past. Her potential Republican opponent, meanwhile, fared poorly on that measure:
All four Republicans (Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, and Scott Walker) were viewed by a plurality of respondents as representing the past more than the future. Jeb Bush fared much the worst: 64 percent of Americans considered him as representing the past, only 33 percent the future.
As for the Democrats, the good news was that Vice President Joe Biden had identically poor numbers to Jeb Bush. The not-so-great news was that Elizabeth Warren’s future-vs.-past numbers were a strongly positive 46-37. The truly alarming news was that senior citizen Hillary Clinton, who has been at the center of the national stage for over two decades, managed a positive 50-48 result.
So voters (admittedly, by a small margin) think Hillary Clinton “represents the future.” And they believe all the Republicans represent the past. Yikes.
What’s going on? Well, it’s true that Hillary Clinton would be the first woman president. That’s something new, and there’s not much any of the likely GOP nominees can do about that.
Kristol contends that the numbers underscore "a deeper Republican problem." For all the party's assiduous efforts to rebrand, voters still see it as mired in the past. He notes that it's early yet and maybe, just maybe, things will turn around, but Kristol sees reason for "healthy alarm."
"Hillary will herself, it’s safe to predict, run a stale campaign with tired themes," he writes. "But the polls suggest she would prevail in a conventional matchup of boring campaigns," he adds, begging fellow Republicans not to "sleepwalk to defeat."
So why is Kristol's forecast bad news for Hillary? Look no further than his track record, which Mediate's Andrew Kirell noted in 2013 is a spectacularly awful one: In 2008, Kristol assured us that Clinton would coast to the Democratic nomination, easily dispatching upstart challenger Barack Obama. "Barack Obama is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single Democratic primary. I’ll predict that right now," he proclaimed. That same year, he championed Sarah Palin's selection as John McCain's running mate, arguing that the "heartthrob" would be a boon to the GOP ticket. Three years prior -- as Democrats were on the cusp of reclaiming control of both chambers of Congress -- Kristol predicted that Republicans would maintain congressional power in the 2006 midterms, asserting that the GOP would "benefit from being the party of victory" in Iraq.
Speaking of Iraq: As a leading neoconservative booster of the war, Kristol assured us it would be a smashing success, and declared that the Bush administration's claims about weapons of mass destruction would prove true.
The war wasn't the only major policy issue Kristol got woefully wrong. He once told Larry King that 1993 would be the "high water mark" for the gay rights movement; 22 years later, we're on the verge of nationwide marriage equality, which about six in 10 Americans now support.
So mark your calendars, Republicans: February 20, 2015 was the date you won the 2016 election.