Why Hillary Clinton Is A Better Candidate Today Than She Was In 2008

| by Nicholas Roberts
Hillary Clinton in 2007Hillary Clinton in 2007

With voting in the Iowa caucuses starting on Feb. 1, the race for the Democratic nomination has become neck-and-neck between Hillary Clinton and her chief rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.  

The most recent poll from The Des Moines Register/Bloomberg shows support for Clinton slightly above Sanders among likely Democratic caucusgoers, with 45 percent to Sanders' 42 percent.

With such a close race, some commentators are predicting 2016 may be a repeat of 2008 for Clinton. But the former secretary of state is a much better candidate now than she was eight years ago, and is more likely to lead the Democratic Party to victory in the presidential election than is her rival.

Critics will undoubtedly point to Clinton's changing stances on issues such as gay marriage, federal rescheduling of marijuana and gun control as evidence of her being an "establishment" politician, and they may have a point.  

But the same point could be made of any of her Republican opponents in the presidential race, who have walked back previous statements and positions on a number of issues. The same could also be said of Sanders, who changed his position on gun control in December to more closely reflect the stringent proposals made by Clinton.

There is also no doubt that in 2016, Clinton easily has the most foreign policy experience of any candidate in either party, having served as secretary of state.

While Republicans and Democrats fiercely argue about her tenure there, Republicans cannot use foreign policy experience as a way to one-up Clinton in a general election, as an article in Bustle notes, and as was pointed out by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida in the first 2015 Republican debate.

Clinton's biggest threat from Sanders' candidacy comes from his criticism of Clinton's ties to Wall Street, which she has so far not managed to neutralize. A sizable number of young likely Democratic caucus voters in Iowa support Sanders, which could spell a problem for Clinton in the general election.

Overall, Bernie Sanders is not Barack Obama, although his candidacy presents different threats to Clinton than Obama's did. But Clinton has far surpassed Sanders in fundraising and endorsements from sitting Democrats, giving her greater advantages in these areas than she had against Obama eight years ago.  

While she may symbolize the Washington establishment to her critics and opponents, Hillary Clinton is not the same candidate she was in 2008. While Sanders may chip into her support -- particularly in New Hampshire, where he polls far ahead -- Clinton is far more likely to win at the national level this year.

Sources: The Des Moines RegisterBustle / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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