When should Hillary toss her Yankees cap in the ring?

Let’s just skip straight past the midterms and just get on with the next presidential race, shall we? (I thought I saw a GOP POTUS debate on the TV Guide listing, but at this point I may have been hallucinating.) In any event, while we wait for the polls to open, Andrew Malcolm has a great essay over at IBD asking the question which is on the minds of many Democrat donors already. When should Hillary pull the trigger?

With 736 days left until the election, whose advice does she take?

The answer is not as clear as it might seem. She’s said her decision, such as it is, would likely come after Jan. 1. But going public with your candidacy late this year instead of late this winter might well head off some party competitors. It would open the door to and lock in rich but hesitant donors awaiting an official sign.

And by changing the hot topic of political conversation, it would sure help Barack Obama.

It would distract the media from focusing so much on his indecision, stumbles, scandals and foul-smelling barn of a second term, which is going to get worse if midterm election polls are accurate about voters’ intentions to wreak revenge tomorrow. If the GOP controls both congressional chambers, the opposition party can lay out its detailed policies for 2016 and beyond — and let the lame duck veto them to protect his unpopular legacy.

Andrew goes on to detail a number of rather odoriferous aspects of Clinton’s resume which will be brought back into the public debate the moment that she makes it official. But is that really a bad thing for her? The sooner you have the media make their halfhearted show of asking her about these things, the sooner she can can begin trotting out the talking points for each which she has surely worked out by now if she has a single competent adviser on her staff. And political history teaches us that the more space you can put between the time the question comes up and the day the voters go to the polls, the better off you are. By the time we get to actual general election debates in the fall of 2016, these questions will be such “old news” that she can try to blow them off by saying that it’s all been beaten to death and is ancient history. (And the voters eventually become exhausted with any story.)

But won’t abandoning private life to become an official candidate once again damage her standing in the polls? As Andrew notes, that horse has already left the barn.

Here’s another Clinton problem the mainstream media has largely chosen to ignore: The former first lady’s approval rating, once up around 60% with only 22% viewing her negatively, has tanked. She’s now down at 43% positive and 41% negative.

I’m certainly not trying to think of ways to help Clinton, but Malcolm does raise some interesting questions. The other one would be the issue of competitors from her left. The longer she plays coy and pretends that she might not run, the more time that big donors who may get itchy trigger fingers have to look at other choices. Similarly, it also provides more space for her potential competition to build up a head of steam. In the end, it may make more sense for Hillary Clinton to announce around Christmas time. Happy holidays indeed. (Not.)