The former first lady is heavily favored for the Democratic nomination. However, a victory in the November 2016 election is far from guaranteed.
Things have not gone according to plan. Hillary Clinton's campaign, officially launched at the start of the summer, has experienced several critical jolts. Her momentum has since taken time to build, while fellow candidate Bernie Sanders has made a buzz. Several controversies have developed in the media. Some observers have asked if "Hillary," as she is colloquially known, will fall apart somewhere along the long path to the White House. "She's not threatened for her nomination as the Democratic Party's candidate," analyzes David Karol, political science professor at the University of Maryland. “On the other hand, the November 2016 election will be very close in regard to the Republican candidate, whoever that is."*
Money and Emails ...
What happened? What speed bumps have jammed Clinton's grand machine? First, the Republicans are forever stirring the ashes of Benghazi, the Libyan city where the American ambassador was killed in a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2012. As secretary of state (the equivalent of France's foreign minister), Clinton was chiefly responsible. But she has defended herself from the incident several times, including during several official hearings before Congress. There's also the issue of vagueness regarding the financing of the Clinton Foundation, which accepts donations from abroad. In one episode in particular, described in the recently published “Clinton, Inc.,” as well as in several news articles, Morocco made a donation of "at least a million dollars" while Hillary Clinton was still head of the U.S. Department of State. In order to show a conflict of interest, there is not one thing that the Republican candidates will not dredge up with pleasure. But "the email controversy is by far her greatest threat," according to David Karol. "The general public can understand this controversy, in which Clinton did not follow the rules in place."*
A summary: While she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, Hillary Clinton used a personal email address and private server at her house in Chappaqua, New York, in lieu of a secure server from the U.S. Department of State. She also erased more than 30,000 messages, unleashing general suspicion and feeding into the Clintons’ reputation for not following the same rules as everyone else. The FBI is heading the investigation.
The controversy equally highlights the fact that Hillary Clinton polarizes Americans. If the polls prove what practically everyone already knows, it's nearly a fifty-fifty split between Americans who like her and those who hate her. "She has always had a divisive personality," recalls David Karol. "Even when she was first lady, she got on the bad side of many House wives with a badly worded remark. At the same time, our system is very polarized. She's only reflecting this era."*
Big Advantages, Despite Everything
That being said, Clinton is a powerful [enough] candidate to be president of the United States. She could be the first lady to run the White House and, contrary to her 2008 campaign, which saw her lose to Barack Obama in the primaries, she is counting on this to make her argument this time around. Her experience is incomparable to that of her fellow party candidates, as well as the Republican candidates: lawyer, first lady, senator and secretary of state. "She's quite qualified for the post,"* says David Karol, who sums up the general opinion. Another strong point is her unlimited ability to raise funds. Bill and Hillary Clinton have been unavoidable on the national political scene since 1992, with Bill's victorious campaign against the incumbent George H. W. Bush. She has an address book at her finger tips that is comparable, without doubt, only to that of the Bush family. Hilary Clinton has already made several trips to California, raising several million dollars in Silicon Valley and among the bigwigs of Hollywood like Steven Spielberg, who is a personal friend. And if, politically speaking, she has yet to reveal the main core of her program, everyone knows more or less where she sits on the political map. An undeniable advantage in a marathon that moves at the pace of a sprint.
*Editor’s Note: The original quotations, accurately translated, could not be verified.