A Democratic Presidential Nominee Prediction:
Why Hillary Clinton will Triumph in 2016
“It is too early for politicians to presume on our forgetting that the public good, the real welfare of the great body of the people, is the supreme object to be pursued; and that no form of government whatever has any other value than as it may be fitted for the attainment of this object” (Madison 294). The preceding statement was written by founder James Madison in The Federalist Papers over 220 years ago, and yet Madison’s timeless words still appeal to the heart of the American presidential selection process to this day. The following report will predict the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee on the basis of several key factors that range from voter demographics to candidate funding and governmental experience, but before the discussion even begins, one must preface a dive into the purposefully complex presidential system with the ever-present underlying knowledge that the victorious Democratic candidate will ultimately be the person who, in Madison’s words, the people believe will most capably endeavor on behalf of the nation’s public good as president of the United States.
Months before the 2016 election process truly begins, the Democratic race already has conglobated down to frontrunner Hillary Clinton and challenger Bernie Sanders1, two candidates who agree on a multitude of party issues, and yet who present two very different messages to the American people. Ultimately, while extremist Bernie Sanders voices the minority’s anger at a seemingly stagnant government and the unequal sway of the wealthy in politics, Hillary Clinton is the only Democratic candidate capable of winning the nomination because of her hold over a broad voter appeal across various ethnicities, ages, and genders within the party, as well as with non-Democratic, moderate voters needed to win the general election; her possession of a pool of funds that more than triple those of Sanders; and most importantly, her possession of decades worth of experience that eclipses all other candidates and positions Hillary Clinton with the knowledge and expertise necessary to effectively act on behalf of the American public good.
Beyond the elementary knowledge that candidates require votes to win elections lies the complex web of voter demographics within one’s own party, which primarily consist of age, ethnicity, religious, and gender differences between individual voters. To begin, although Clinton identifies as Christian and Sanders is Jewish, neither candidate places an emphasis on faith in their campaigns. In being “not overt” about their respective religions, both candidates appeal to the overwhelming majority of Americans who believe in God, while never isolating voters of opposing religions, thereby not forcing religious voters to flock to one candidate over the other (Silliman 2).
In addition, both Clinton and Sanders have passed the average retirement age in the United States; however, a distinction in how they leverage their age impacts their voter demographics. For example, while Republican opponents heckle that Clinton is too old to be president, Clinton’s campaign simply spins age into wisdom connected to her vast political experience (Tinker 1). To the opposite effect, Bernie Sanders’ campaign reverses an elderly perception, with a Princeton University professor of public affairs stating in a CNN article, “He [Sanders] is the most senior of the bunch, but he could have the most stamina, physically and intellectually” (Tinker 2). While Democrats tend to attract younger voters, the fact that younger citizens do not vote nearly as often as middle-aged and older voters gives Clinton a slight advantage over Sanders in the voter age race, as she attracts more mature voters across a more diverse range of ages.
A third factor, voter ethnicity, further pushes votes into Hillary Clinton’s presidential run. While both Sanders and Clinton maintain policies in favor of more open immigration reform, Sanders “was part of the charge from the left to kill an immigration overhaul bill” while senator in 2007, a fact that positions many Hispanic voters more firmly in Clinton’s camp, who “has pledged to go further than President Barack Obama has on shielding immigrants here illegally from deportations” (Kim 2). In addition, Clinton’s prior experience in the White House gives her close ties to African American and Mexican voters through groups such as the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project, who strongly supported her husband as president years earlier and are more likely to support Clinton in 2016 (Bessette 244).
Next, an undeniable victory for Hillary Clinton in the polls comes from her overwhelming appeal to women voters when compared with Bernie Sanders and future Republican adversaries. After losing to President Obama in 2008, the Clinton campaign admitted that not emphasizing Clinton’s role as a woman in politics was a fatal flaw when matched against the possibility of the first African American President (Parnes 1). This election cycle, Clinton embraces her womanhood, fostering a ‘“movement’ to help women at work,” fighting both the “‘glass ceiling’ [and] a floor that could collapse underneath them, erasing the gains made to win equality between the sexes” (Parnes 1). With this major policy movement in mind, it is only logical that Sanders, with no direct personal stake in the international advancement of women, simply cannot compete for a majority among female voters.
Outside of these voter variations within the Democratic Party, Democratic voters must, when voting for a presidential nominee, look beyond the primary and into the general election, as electing a nominee lacks purpose if that nominee cannot sway enough Republicans and Independents to actually secure the presidency. For this reason, Hillary Clinton, while planted firmly in the grounds of Democratic policies, is a more attractive and rational nominee choice than extremist Bernie Sanders, who, as a self-proclaimed socialist, cannot hope to sway the Republican votes necessary to win the general election. While his allies tone down Bernie Sanders’ ideology as safe, “vanilla socialism,” NPR political analyst John Dillon acknowledges that “for many U.S. voters, socialist sounds a lot like communist” (Dillon 3). Herein lies, arguably, Bernie Sanders’ greatest flaw as a candidate: As a socialist, no matter how stringent or relaxed, Sanders’ ideological standpoint contradicts the most basic principles of American Democracy. After all, “Without agreement on fundamentals there can be no trust, and without trust there is no basis for citizenship” (Bessette 284). Hillary Clinton, when compared against Bernie Sanders, is a moderate operating well within the boundaries of the nation’s Democratic limits who possesses the realistic capability of gaining enough Republican and Independent votes necessary to ultimately become president.
If Bernie Sanders is truly unelectable, opponents may argue, then why does his opposition to “a second Clinton administration [that] would be far too friendly to the wealthy” hold so much traction with potential voters (Graham 4)? While this one point serves as the primary basis of support for Sanders’ campaign, the assumption that Hillary Clinton’s policies are up for auction betwixt major contributors to her Priorities USA Action Super PAC cannot be taken too seriously (Vogel 1). As the American Government and Politics textbook argues, both President Obama and Mitt Romney “denounced special interests,” in 2012 while courting major donations from “individual members of economic or policy groups” at the same time (Bessette 256). The U.S. election system simply cannot operate at the national level without significant financial contributions, and so from the opposition’s claimed ‘weakness’ in Clinton’s campaign, flows yet another source of legitimate strength: her immense pool of campaign funds. Clinton, largely through individual donations of “less than $100” each, has already raised over $75 million, significantly more than Sanders’ total campaign donations thus far in the race (Schleifer 1). The significance of Clinton’s large campaign budget is an ability to spend more money per vote in the primaries and general election. Through informational mail pamphlets, social media videos and literature, particularly expensive TV ads, radio spots, campaign sponsored voter meet-and-greets, and an extremely experienced campaign team consisting of several key Obama campaign members, Clinton’s campaign funds serve to supplement these necessary election factors (Heffernan 1). Also, in another display of the necessity of immense finances for all candidates, even though Clinton and Sanders have each raised tens of millions of dollars, both also strongly support the eventual elimination of super PACs. Fellow candidate Lawrence Lessig comments, "I think it's fantastic that Hillary and Bernie are raising whatever they can to get elected -- as long as they commit clearly to reforming the system" (Schleifer 1). With both teams aiming to clean up shady political finances, no real credence rests in the Sanders’ campaign argument that Clinton largely belongs in the pockets of the elite.
Lastly, the most important cause of Clinton’s successful Democratic nomination campaign is her indomitable political experience. According to Hillary Clinton’s campaign website, the frontrunner has served as lawyer, senator, first lady, U.S. representative fighting for women’s rights overseas in China and other countries, co-founder of the Clinton Foundation, secretary of state, mother, and grandmother (Hillary’s Story 2). A more accomplished political opponent is nonexistent in this race, and Clinton’s lengthy record itself serves to show her ability to effectively cater to the public good, for if she were an ineffective or purely selfish leader, she would have lost the support of voters and the Democratic Party decades ago. Just a tiny sampling of more specific examples of her prestigious record fighting for the public good include leading the creation of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, increasing “research funding for prostate cancer and childhood asthma at the NIH,” improving the United States’ international reputation as secretary of state, and leading the Global Hunger and Food Security program abroad (Marshall 1). Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders, as a long-time member of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, maintains an impressive background in politics that nonetheless remains dwarfed in comparison to Clinton’s international and national expertise garnered through years of serving in several top government positions (Shafer 2).
In total, all of the previously mentioned forces at work in the nomination process indicate very strongly that Hillary Clinton will be the undisputed choice for the Democratic nomination this coming year. While, of course, many other factors are at work in the process of winning an election, this paper analyzed the main causes of presidential nominee selection through combing through key voter demographic distinctions, such as religion, age, ethnicity, and gender, as well as showing how Clinton’s supposed weakness in PAC campaign donations actually represents a healthy part of the election system that helps to inform more citizens of Clinton’s policies. Most importantly, Clinton’s prior career experience and achievements display clearly her undeniable success as a fighter for the public good in the past, and hint at what she may do as president in terms of improving national social and economic programs that she helped create as a senator, fighting for gender equality domestically and abroad, and improving the United States’ foreign relations using her experience from serving as secretary of state. While Bernie Sanders puts up an admirable fight for a radically different Washington, little doubt remains that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton alone combines realistic national electability with the best embodiment of Madison’s ideal of the politician who successfully fights for the public good above all else, making her the ideal Democratic nominee for the presidency in 2016