is hillary suppressing the first female potus?

It’s the time in the cycle when people obsess over VP picks. Let me develop a riff that’s been bounced around the blogosphere: If Obama goes with a female VP, it’s gotta be Hillary. I can see why the Clintonistas would push that. But objectively, it’s a bizarre claim. Right now, we have a female House speaker and many experienced female guv’s and senators. But let’s say that elite Dem party leaders believe the “Hillary or else” thesis, or, if nothing else, they don’t want to deal with angry Clintonites who feel they have a claim on the first female POTUS. Obama chooses a male VP in this model.

We’ve made it impossible for a woman to get elected POTUS for another 12 years, maybe more. Why? Let’s start with the assumption that the fundamentals favor Obama – it’s hard to lose an election when the incumbent party is saddled with a war and a tanking economy. In this scenario, Obama will run with a male VP and win. Obama will then get renominated in 2012. His VP will get the nomination in 2016 – remember that many VP’s have been able to get the nomination. If Obama VP loses in 2016, then there will only be an “open slot” around 2020. If the VP manages two consecutive nominations, then the open slot appears in 2024.  Even if Obama loses in 2008, he could run again in 2008, or his VP could make a serious effort, if he had a national following. In other words, no female POTUS till 2016 or so. On the other hand, if Obama were to go with Sebelius, Napolitano, or others, they’d have the high level experience needed to win in 2016 or 2012. And if Obama leaves office due to scandal or illness, even sooner.

Of the course, the key assumption is that the Obama VP can beat Hillary. Beating Hillary was hard in 2008, but will be much easier in 2012 or later. She’s lost the image of inevitability. We’ve seen her strengths and weaknesses on the electoral map. Also, it’s unlikely that her tendency for overseeing chaotic campaign organizations will disappear. Her weaknesses as a campaigner will remain. All the tools used by Obama can potentially be used by other challengers. Finally, the cohort of older voters who stuck with Hillary … let’s say their turnout will decrease.

Obama has no reason to go with Hillary (New York is safe, he has his own base, etc.). If people want to see a female potus, now’s the time to push for Kathleen Sebelius.

Written by fabiorojas

August 8, 2008 at 1:42 am

6 Responses

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  1. I like the analysis (especially the optimistic part where Obama wins two terms), but I wonder about Sebelius. I haven’t followed her closely enough, but I’ve been underwhelmed with her public appearances – for example, her response to the State of the Union was stilted at best. She must know how to campaign effectively in some fashion, else she would not be the Democratic governor of Kansas. I think she’d probably be a fine VP, but would she really be in a position to run 8 years from now? The post title says you are talking about the first female POTUS, but you end with the VP nominee. Does picking Sebelius really bring that much closer?


    Dan Hirschman

    August 8, 2008 at 3:18 am

  2. “The post title says you are talking about the first female POTUS, but you end with the VP nominee. Does picking Sebelius really bring that much closer?”

    You can’t win, unless you’re nominated and VP’s have a huge leg up in that process. But I did make a mistake in the last sentence.



    August 8, 2008 at 3:32 am

  3. Dan: The other unstated assumption is that the GOP won’t nominate a woman. After the draft Condi movement, I’m not so sure that’s a good assumption. The GOP also has a numebr of serious contenders as well. If McCain picks a female VP candidate who is strong, that could be the stepping stone to a nomination in 2012.



    August 8, 2008 at 4:10 am

  4. Who do you like in the Reps for a female VP? Palin from Alaska? I can’t think of too many others that fit McCain’s needs – I heard someone say Fiorina once, but she’s been a pretty mediocre surrogate.


    Dan Hirschman

    August 8, 2008 at 4:25 am

  5. Don’t blame Hillary or her supporters for this. It is purely Obama’s choice.



    August 8, 2008 at 2:03 pm

  6. [This comment removed by Fabio. Poster is welcome to comment if they don’t use crude language.]


    Tyrran Obsent

    August 9, 2008 at 10:58 pm

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