The true political state of the union is best revealed in a recent poll in Time magazine that found that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would win an epic and possibly realigning landslide in a presidential election against any Republican candidate.
First, the numbers. Then, the reasons.
In the Time poll, Clinton would defeat Mitt Romney by a whopping 55 percent to 38 percent. She would defeat Rick Perry by an even more devastating 58 percent to 32 percent.
These are realigning numbers. In this hypothetical match-up, the Clinton landslide would be so huge, and the Republican defeat so catastrophic, that Democrats would almost certainly regain control of the House and maintain control of the Senate.
In the Time poll, President Obama also defeats any candidate in the Republican field, though by far smaller margins than Clinton. Anyone who suggests that “Obama is toast” should not be taken seriously.
I believe the president, whom I support, would be a slight favorite in a close election against Romney, and could win a landslide against other Republicans, who have not come close to crossing the threshold of being serious contenders for commander in chief.
The lesson of the Time poll, which I believe would be replicated in other polls, though possibly not as dramatically, is this:
The next great realignment in American politics is very likely to be a Democratic realignment. It cannot be a Republican realignment, because the GOP has moved so far to the extreme right that it is now far outside the mainstream of American opinion.
While it is true that Hillary Clinton’s huge popularity is partly due to her being removed from partisan politics as Secretary of State, there are other powerful messages for both parties in her soaring popularity.
Hillary Clinton represents the brand of the Democratic Party embodied by traditional Democratic presidents in hard economic times. She is identified with the great prosperity of the Bill Clinton presidency. But there are other powerful forces at work:
Hillary Clinton is part of what I once called “The Female Century.” Throughout the nation and around the world there is an epochal movement toward true equality for women.
By contrast, some Republicans slander Planned Parenthood. Many Republicans aggressively oppose pay equity for women. Congressional Republicans launch hostile attacks on countless programs that benefit women.
I have written before, and will write again, that a tidal wave of support from female voters will be a powerful factor helping President Obama and Democrats in 2012.
This “woman power” that benefits Hillary Clinton with women now benefits her with many men as well. In an economy where many view the 1 percent as unfairly gaining at the expense of the other 99 percent, Hillary Clinton is seen as a fighter. She never gives up. She is a voice for those who feel disempowered, including white male blue-collar workers, blacks who feel trapped in joblessness and injustice, Hispanics who are told their dreams can no longer come true and seniors who trust Hillary Clinton as their protector.
Hillary Clinton will not run for president in 2012. She will be one of the greatest assets of President Obama, who had the good judgment to name her Secretary of State.
Hillary Clinton disproves the notion that America is a rightist nation. If the 2016 election were held today, America would not turn to the right, it would turn to Clinton.
In the eyes of voters, Hillary Clinton is the North Star of an America where Democrats act like Democrats and where every woman deserves equal pay, every worker deserves a job and nobody should be left behind.
The great source of Clinton’s strength is that the dreams of women are the dreams for all. Dorothy Rodham was one great mom who raised one great daughter. If Democrats remember why, they will do just fine in 2012.
Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd …Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Tenn.), then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at <i>[email protected]</i>.