Hillary Clinton: Will She or Won’t She Run in 2020?

Hillary Clinton is arguably the most qualified person to ever run for the presidency. A former first lady, US. Senator, and Secretary of State, she has been a life-long public policy wonk. Having lost the 2008 Democratic Primary to Barack Obama and the 2016 general election to Donald Trump, Hillary was finally convinced that enough was enough. How much humiliation can one person take?

Hillary Clinton democratic primary

Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Still, in 2016 she did win the popular vote, and would have been elected if she had gotten about 80,000 more votes in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. So, it is not unreasonable to speculate that if she were to run again in 2020, she would finally attain her lifelong dream.

But Hillary made it quite clear after her heartbreaking loss in 2016 that she would never again run for elective office. If you’re old enough, you might recall that when Richard Nixon lost the California’s governors’ race in 1962 -- just two years after he lost a very close presidential contest to John Kennedy -- he angrily told reporters, “You will no longer have Nixon to kick around anymore...” Six years later, of course, he was elected president.

And now, despite her pledge, here’s Hillary bragging that she’s being urged to enter the Democratic presidential primary by “many, many, many people.”

Hillary to run in 2020 democratic primary?

So, will she run again? Only she, her husband Bill, and perhaps just a few very close advisors know for sure.

The woman is clearly a carrier of the very common political disease known as candidatitis. It has afflicted hundreds of thousands of Americans who were elected to municipal, state, or federal office, who have truly believed that they would one day be president. And Hillary has had perhaps the worst case of all. Indeed, she has long exhibited symptoms of believing that she was actually entitled to our nation’s highest office.

But sadly, it will never be. While she is clearly enjoying the attention she’s been getting, there is no way she will throw her hat into the ring. She is quite aware of the reaction that will follow. Millions of her loyal supporters – many of whom believe the 2016 election was stolen from her by Russian interference – would welcome her political resurrection. But a large majority of Democratic primary voters clearly do not want her to run again.

Their greatest fear is nominating a candidate who will lose to Trump. Whatever else Hillary might be, she was a candidate who lost to him, and very possibly would lose to him again. However unfair that view might be, the primary attribute these voters are seeking is the ability to beat Trump.

Political calculations

At all of his political rallies, the president regales his ardent followers by reliving his great electoral victory in 2016, usually followed by the crowd chanting, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” His put-downs of “Sleepy Joe”, “Crazy Bernie,” and “Pocahontas” pale beside “Crooked Hillary.” A straw woman he sets up to be knocked down again and again, Hillary Clinton is apparently, by far, his favorite potential opponent.

Hillary, who knows all of this better than virtually any other American, understands that if she were to enter the Democratic primary, she would be attacked mercilessly as a loser. Her only hope – however unrealistic – is to be nominated by a deadlocked convention. The last time anything like that happened was in 1924.

So, Hillary will enjoy the attention she’s receiving, hoping it might last for months, but it would defy all political logic for her to jump into the race at this time. Her heart may be telling her to run, but her head knows better.

During her 2016 presidential run, she readily admitted that while Barack Obama and her own husband were extremely highly skilled politicians, she did not have their skills. But she is whip-smart – surely smart enough not to jump into the Democratic primary.



About the Author

Steve Slavin
Steve Slavin has a Ph.D. in economics from NYU, and has written twenty math and economics books, including “The Great American Economy: How Inefficiency Broke It, and What We Can Do to Fix it.” The 12th edition of his introductory economics text came out in September.