Jonathon V. Last is a Philadelphia Inquirer columnist who has a column called "One Last Thing" in that paper. A reader recently sent us a link to a column in the Sunday, March 9, 2008 paper in which he makes the argument that Hillary Clinton is the strongest candidate that Democrats can nominate to run against John McCain.
Here is the essense of his argument:
Obama's support comes in large part from reliably Republican states such as Idaho, Utah, Georgia and South Carolina. Democrats have no chance in those states come November. Meanwhile, Clinton will have won at least eight of the 11 largest states, including must-win battleground states such as Florida and Ohio (and Pennsylvania).
Remember, too, that Obama's coalition is composed of more reliably Democratic base voters: African Americans, voters making over $100,000, and young voters. These are groups that Democratic candidates carry most easily. If Clinton is the nominee, she can take these groups for granted.
By contrast, Clinton's coalition - women, older voters, whites making less than $50,000, Catholics, Hispanics - would be McCain swing voters in a race against Obama. Obama hasn't been successful in wooing those voters yet, so it's unclear why anyone would believe he will finally carry them (and then defend them from a very appealing McCain) in November.
In other words, if you look at the underlying fundamentals of the race, and not just the theoretical polls, Clinton can make a strong case that she is the candidate better suited to challenging McCain and winning the White House
Of course, his argument assumes that Clinton holds the African-American vote and the vote from younger voters. It may be that an increasingly bitter primary could erode her support among those two voting blocks. Still, the argument is an interesting one and is well worth the time to read it.