Hillary Clinton’s 2024 Election Comeback
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have become unpopular. It may be time for a change candidate.By Douglas E. Schoen and Andrew Stein, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 11, 2022 12:28 pm ET
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton poses at a showing of the film ‘Hillary’ in Berlin, Feb. 25, 2020.A perfect storm in the Democratic Party is making a once-unfathomable scenario plausible: a political comeback for Hillary Clinton in 2024. Several circumstances—President Biden’s low approval rating, doubts over his capacity to run for re-election at 82, Vice President Kamala Harris’s unpopularity, and the absence of another strong Democrat to lead the ticket in 2024—have created a leadership vacuum in the party, which Mrs. Clinton viably could fill.
She is already in an advantageous position to become the 2024 Democratic nominee. She is an experienced national figure who is younger than Mr. Biden and can offer a different approach from the disorganized and unpopular one the party is currently taking. If Democrats lose control of Congress in 2022, Mrs. Clinton can use the party’s loss as a basis to run for president again, enabling her to claim the title of “change candidate."
Based on her latest public statements, it’s clear that Mrs. Clinton not only recognizes her position as a potential front-runner but also is setting up a process to help her decide whether or not to run for president again. She recently warned of the electoral consequences in the 2022 midterms if the Democratic Party continues to align itself with its progressive wing and urged Democrats to reject far-left positions that isolate key segments of the electorate.
In a recent MSNBC interview, Mrs. Clinton called on Democrats to engage in “careful thinking about what wins elections, and not just in deep-blue districts where a Democrat and a liberal Democrat, or so-called progressive Democrat, is going to win.” She also noted that party’s House majority “comes from people who win in much more difficult districts.”
Mrs. Clinton also took a veiled jab at the Biden administration and congressional Democrats in an effort to create distance: “It means nothing if we don’t have a Congress that will get things done, and we don’t have a White House that we can count on to be sane and sober and stable and productive.”
Even Bill Clinton recently set the stage for his wife’s potential 2024 candidacy, referring to her in an interview with People magazine as “the most qualified person to run for office in my lifetime, including me,” adding that not electing her in 2016 was “one of the most profound mistakes we ever made.”
We can infer based on these recent remarks that Mrs. Clinton would seize the opportunity to run for president again if an opening presents itself. But what are the odds that an opportunity will arise?
The Democrats’ domestic agenda is in disarray given the failure of Mr. Biden’s Build Back Better plan in Congress. Senate Democrats’ latest desperate push to repeal the legislative filibuster to pass their secondary legislative priority, voting-rights reform, will likely weaken their agenda further.
Mr. Biden’s overall approval rating is low (40%), as is his rating on issues including the economy and jobs (38%) and taxes and government spending (33%), according to a recent Economist/YouGov poll. Nearly two-thirds of independent voters disapprove of the president. Barring a major course correction, we can anticipate that some Democrats will lose important House and Senate races in 2022—in part for the reasons Mrs. Clinton identified—giving Republicans control of both chambers of Congress.
Polls generally show the GOP with a solid lead of at least 2 or 3 points in the 2022 generic congressional vote—a margin that likely would be enough to take back the House, given the narrow Democratic majority and the anticipated outcomes of redistricting in several states that could affect key races. Given the likelihood that Democrats will lose control of Congress in 2022, we can anticipate that Mrs. Clinton will begin shortly after the midterms to position herself as an experienced candidate capable of leading Democrats on a new and more successful path.
Mrs. Clinton can spend the time between now and midterms doing what the Clinton administration did after the Democrats’ blowout defeat in the 1994 midterms: crafting a moderate agenda on both domestic and foreign policy. This agenda could show that Mrs. Clinton is the only credible alternative to Mr. Biden, Ms. Harris, and the entire Democratic Party establishment.
Hillary Clinton remains ambitious, outspoken and convinced that if not for Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey’s intervention and Russian interference that she would have won the 2016 election—and she may be right. If Democrats want a fighting chance at winning the presidency in 2024, Mrs. Clinton is likely their best option.