Although Hillary Clinton is a long way ahead of the left-wing populist Sanders in terms of delegates, she is now under the greatest pressure. The momentum is clearly with Sanders and Trump. They have even agreed to line up against each other for a television debate, for which they would donate all advertising income to charities. Whether the debate ever happens or not, remains to be seen. But the announcement alone has provided a strong signal that Clinton, despite her lead in the Democratic race, is already being written off. So why is Clinton having such a hard time?
- She has been put under sustained pressure for using a private email server while she was Secretary of State. That’s old news now. She has even conceded her mistakes on numerous occasions. But she has always claimed that she has done nothing illegal. That has been her central argument all along – and it has now been exposed as a lie. An official State Department investigation has now concluded that what she did was indeed in contravention of federal law. These new revelations have strengthened the public’s opinion that she – just like her husband in the aftermath of his sex scandal – has problems with telling the truth. This whole case is no longer about the emails themselves, it is much more about Hillary Clinton’s credibility. If claims that she has repeatedly lied to the American people gain traction, things are going to get very difficult indeed for Clinton. This is exactly what her challenger, the left-wing populist Sanders, has been banking on for some time now.
- Hillary Clinton simply can’t seem to inspire or enthuse her voters. Whatever she tries, she just doesn’t come across as authentic. Journalists and her political opponents have been making fun of her on a daily basis for always reading her speeches directly from teleprompters – unlike Sanders and Trump. Clinton’s facial expressions, gestures and permanent smile look more like an unsettling mask – uptight and artificial – completely different from Sanders and Trump, who both come across as confident and relaxed.
- Clinton is under a constant barrage of attacks from both sides: From her left-wing critics, followers of Sanders, and from conservative critics and Trump. This has made it incredibly difficult for her to carve out her own position. On the one hand she has adopted a more left-wing position, closing the gap to Sanders, although she will never come across as credibly as Sanders because she is too widely regarded as a mouthpiece of “Wall Street”. She will never be authentically left-wing enough for the leftwingers, and for conservatives she has moved too far away from the center. Nobody really seems to know what she stands for anymore.
- Clinton represents the status quo. As far as most people are concerned she is simply going to carry on where Obama leaves off. This is despite the fact that two-thirds of US Americans are extremely dissatisfied with the status quo. The general consensus is that after eight years of Obama the country simply cannot afford “more of the same”.
- Sanders has a better chance of beating Trump than Clinton. This is claimed by opinion polling carried out by a range of American newspapers and broadcasters. In these head-to-head polls, Sanders is ahead of Trump. Of course, this will all change if the two ever really have to face off against each other. After all, Trump has so far concentrated all of his attacks on Clinton, leaving Sanders pretty much unscathed. The reason: Trump is targeting Sander’s supporters and doesn’t want to risk offending them. If Sanders were to face Trump for the presidency, we can all be sure that Trump’s campaign team would join with the conservatibve media to launch an unprecedented campaign against socialist Sanders – “Freedom or Socialism”.
So what is the case in favor of Clinton? Clinton – unlike Trump – is believed to be quantifiable and predictable. People know what they will get if they vote for CLinton. At least, this how a majority of US Americans currently see things. There will even be conservative voters who back Clinton because they see her as the “lesser evil”. And at the same time she will be hoping for strong support from Black and Hispanic voters.
The upcoming primaries in California, the country’s most populous state – and the Democrat’s most important state – are more important than ever before. If Clinton ends up trailing Sanders in California, it would represent a devastating defeat for her. Sanders is fully aware of this and has focused his entire energy on California’s June 7 primary.
Stories have even started to appear in the American media speculating on the possiblity of a third Democratic presidential candidate emerging at the party’s convention to seize the nomination from Clinton and Sanders. I don’t believe that this will actually happen, but the speculation just goes to show how desperate the mood is among Democrats, especially those who have so far bet everything on Clinton.