The Hero and The Hangman

In what may be the last chapter of her decades-long quest for the presidency, Hillary Clinton faces wolves. Wherever she looks, there lies an existential crisis.

To her left is the Democratic-socialist Bernie Sanders, who has defied all expectations by being a formidable primary challenger to Mrs. Clinton thus far. His stronghold on the millennial vote spells out a huge problem for Mrs Clinton when she makes it out of the primaries, as they’ve been pushed by this primary process to be distrustful of her. However, his losses tonight leave him significantly weakened and he’s probably not much of a challenge for Clinton from now onward, but he will likely continue to gain fundraising, media attention, and delegates, all of which will distract her from pivoting to the general election as soon as possible.

To her right is the rising governor of Ohio, John Kasich, the dark horse of 2016. After his win last night in Ohio, Kasich commands the attention of the Republican establishment and it is increasingly likely that they will really behind him if the nomination is contested. If Kasich comes out on top in a contested convention, his relatively clean record and moderate positions will be harder for Clinton to attack than a nominee Trump.

Looming over her is the shadow of her opponent-turned-leader of the free world Barack Obama. His 91% approval rating among Democrats puts shame to her 44% and highlights the pitfalls of her 2016 campaign. Barack Obama is talented, calm, and calculated where she is over matched, erratic, and gaffe-prone. Even if she wins, her presidency will be endlessly compared to that of President Obama, which itself happened in a different era and political atmosphere

And finally, in front of her lies the Teflon-coated hangman of the Republican party, Donald Trump. Trump’s incredible success has defied all expectations and indicates that he will be a formidable opponent for Ms. Clinton if/when she makes it to the general. But Mrs. Clinton’s “Donald Trump” problem isn’t that he is apparently invincible or a misogynistic racist, it’s that he inspires passion and optimism in his voters where she (at best) strikes a grudging indifference. In a rather ironic way, he could become the Barack Obama of this election: a surprisingly adept politician that defies all expectations and steals the election from underneath Hillary Clinton by promising a better America. It remains to be seen whether he will do so.