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Morning in Hillary's America

By John McIntyre

Senator Hillary Clinton has long been the Democratic favorite in 2008, though the seeming inevitability of her nomination had begun to fade over the past year. Of all the major candidates thought to be running for President, Ms. Clinton's position has been most strengthened by the Democrats' success in November.

First, the public's clear repudiation of the status quo policy in Iraq provides Ms. Clinton with the cover to adjust her position on Iraq. She will be able to get more in line with the base of her party without creating too much damage among voters in the middle, whom she will need in the general election.

Furthermore, while capturing Congress severely handicaps the Democrats' ability to run on the powerful theme of "change" in the general election, it's also likely to produce a moderating effect as Democrats assume the responsibility of governing. This will help insulate Ms. Clinton in the primaries against the inevitable challenge from the left since Democratic primary voters will be more willing to back a centrist nominee having recaptured Congress two years earlier and tasted a return to power.

But the biggest boost for Senator Clinton is the drubbing the GOP took at the polls. The Democrats' greatest fear has always been that Ms. Clinton is simply too polarizing a candidate to defeat a Republican with broad appeal to independents and moderates, such as John McCain or Rudy Giuliani. The '06 election results and the crumbling of the Republican majority over Iraq have changed that analysis. Six months or a year ago, it was hard to envision how Ms. Clinton could beat a united GOP behind Sen. McCain or Mr. Giuliani. That isn't true today.

In fact, the Democrats' strong performance this year in Senate and Governor's races in swing states that will be key in 2008 (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, and Colorado, to name a few) may help Hillary get over the biggest hurdle she faces in getting the nomination: the belief among some Democrats that she can't win.

John McIntyre is the co-founder & President of RealClearPolitics. Email: john@realclearpolitics.com

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