The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage
NEW YORK (
) -- According to a new
Hillary Clinton is the most popular politician in America. She trounced the President by 14 percentage points. What took the nation so long to figure out that she was the better candidate?
When the Democrats were selecting their candidate in 2008, a resume-to-resume review would have said -- no contest; Clinton was superior. She isn't the first person to find that superior credentials can be easily outdone by superior marketing.
Obama's marketing message and better-funded marketing machine were exceptional. Team Obama mastered the Internet to connect and reconnect their message of hope and change with the voters. This was especially successful with the young digital natives where Obama trounced Clinton 3:1. Unbridled optimism is a youth hallmark and Obama was its embodiment.
Obama's hot button issues resonated with young and old alike: gridlock between the Democrats and Republicans, politicians that appeal to special interests, the economy slipping, rising unemployment, unaffordable health care, the falling dollar and unjustified wars.
Hope and change was a powerful message. African-American voters preferred Obama nearly 6:1. In Clinton's shoo-in category, women, Obama ran close to even. Why didn't smart, experienced Clinton carry the female vote? Did American women know that political inequality gave her no chance? It's possible. In 2007, the U.S. ranked 69th on female political empowerment, below the Muslim-majority United Arab Emirates and the failed state of Zimbabwe.
On election day, the fresh face promising hope and change had captivated the nation tallying the highest popular vote in history. Obama carried the majority of males, females, African Americans, Latino Americans, Asian Americans, those making over $200,000, the most educated, the least educated, and those under 30.
In 2008, Clinton had been on the national stage for 16 years to Obama's three. When
took its recent poll, the public had three more years to examine the record of Mr. Yes-We-Can. The response: oh crap he can't.
What's in the record that's persuading public opinion? Team Obama's hope for employment to stay under 8% was misplaced, particularly among Obama's grandest advocates. Youth unemployment is the highest in recorded history (1948). From July 2008 to July 2011, youth unemployment rose from 14% to 18%. Hardest hit are young African and Latino Americans.
Health care reform isn't really playing out like the pitch either. In 2008, 14.8% of the nation lacked health care coverage. Today it's 16.8% and those that have coverage aren't happy about paying more. Some of health reforms' big benefits sounded good, particularly for at-risk populations, until people saw the increases in premiums, co-pays and deductibles. For some, it doesn't have that affordable feel. For others, it feels like income redistribution between healthy and unhealthy populations.
Middle class Americans, Obama's undisputed favorite class, aren't feeling warm and fuzzy about the President's unwavering support. That's because it hasn't translated into jobs. Even
the jobs plan with its specifically enumerated jobs seems empty for the 91% of private sector workers who are non-unionized. The big push for building infrastructure caters to unionized workers. In combination with the push to increase teachers and first responders, it feels like hope for the special interests of organized labor.
Even those middle-classers with jobs are angry that the economy is stuck in first gear with few signs of hope or change for their stagnant income that gas is gobbling up. The day before the President took office, regular gas on average cost $1.85. Last week, the average was $3.59.
The economy is stuck because Congress is stuck and people are wondering why their chosen leader who promised to reduce gridlock has failed miserably to tame the congressional flock. The credit downgrade, an ancillary outcome of the gridlock, has made the whole thing humiliating -- for all Americans.
Americans have been waxing nostalgic for the Clinton era. Surely, Hillary would have followed in Bill's footsteps and worked tirelessly to get Democrats to move right on economic matters and Republicans to the left on social measures. Like Bill, she never would have forgotten that above all, it's the economy, stupid. And Hillary would never be accused of throwing in the towel.
Obama's relative unpopularity is in part zeitgeist that his win over Clinton may have inspired. He broke the mold on the white man monopoly on the presidency. Since he won the nomination, there has been a meteoric rise in the acceptance of women in office. The U.S. has moved up 29 spots in the global rankings.
The President's fall from grace though was inevitable. Before he took one step into the White House, he was being worshipped as the hero of hope and change that his marketing machine portrayed. Maintaining a hero status requires superhuman feats. Alas, Obama is a mere inexperienced mortal politician who was oversold. Worse, he had the misfortune of stepping into America's top spot when experience matters more than unbridled optimism.