The results also showed that the electorate looks forward rather than backward. Clinton’s 2016 argument will be based in part on recollection. Her message: If you liked the 1990s, the last period of broad-based growth and full employment, put my husband and me back in the White House.
But voters are not retrospective. They judge based on the conditions of the moment. In 2010, Democrats tarred Rob Portman as a former Bush official. In 2014, they tried something similar with congressional candidate Elise Stefanik. Both Portman and Stefanik won.
This year, several candidates ran explicitly as “Clinton Democrats.” They tried to associate themselves with fond and gauzy memories of a better time. They lost. Arkansas—the birthplace of Bill Clinton, the test tube of Clintonism—became a GOP stronghold. Tom Cotton defeated Mark Pryor by 17 points. The Clintons’ star power, such as it is, was overwhelmed by the Republican wave of discontent and anger at liberal incompetence.
The Clintons aren’t gods. They are human beings—extremely, terribly, irredeemably flawed human beings.