There is more than a passing similarity between Hillary Clinton and Theresa May. It's not just their gender, it's the kind of politician and person they are and the circumstances they operate in. They are both cautious and hard working; they have a tendency to be control freaks; and they operate with a tight loyal inner-circle. They both followed their party's previous leader, who were more natural politicians and more at ease with being in the campaign spotlight. Most notably both Hillary and Theresa are far better at "doing the job" than campaigning for it.
It is easy to forget after the disastrous result of her campaign last November, that Hillary started the campaign as a highly popular politician. She had been a successful Senator for New York winning a huge majority in her reelection in 2006. Her tenure as Obama's Secretary of State was widely admired and set her up to be one of the most highly qualified Presidential candidates in history.
Hillary entered both the primaries and the presidential election with an aura of inevitability - it was her time! Both the high expectations for both campaigns came crashing into reality.
She made heavy weather of beating Bernie Sanders, who hadn't even been a member of party prior to his run, for the Democrat nomination. She lost states like Michigan and Wisconsin to Sanders which, as an ignored problem, came back to haunt her in November when she was beaten unexpectedly across the rust belt. It was meant to be a coronation but ended up a messy scrap.
Her presidential campaign was run against arguably the most unqualified and flawed candidate in recent history. Yet, as we all know, she snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Overly controlled and not willing to admit mistakes or weaknesses, was the hallmark of the campaign. The email problem just wouldn't go away and arguably could have been put to rest at the beginning of the campaign with an apology for making a mistake and being contrite.
So what can Theresa May learn from her twin across the ocean?
Firstly, having been a successful, hard-working Home Secretary and Prime Minister might not be enough. Even reverting to competent Prime Minister after the horrors of Manchester didn't give her an immediate boost in the polls.
"Strong and stable" gets you so far, but people also look for vision and inspiration. Also, relying on focusing on your opponent's weaknesses doesn't have the required resonance when everyone already knows them - you would have had to live in a cave for the last two years not to know that most of his colleagues and the press don't think Jeremy Corbyn is up to the job of Prime Minister.
Repeating simplistic slogans, having highly controlled events with the party faithful gets seen through after a few weeks. The British press, even though mostly supporting the Tories, are more challenging than their American counterparts and haven't given May a free ride. The "dementia tax" debacle might have been superseded by events but it made her look far from "strong and stable." Learning from Hillary's mistakes, an apology rather than an insistence that nothing had changed, might be appreciated.
So will June 8th be more like the win over Sanders, harder than expected but the result still comes through, or the loss to Trump, which could so easily have been avoided? The betting, literally and figuratively, are still in favour of Mrs. May but the warning signs are there to be heeded. Margaret Thatcher had "Wobbly Thursday" during her 1987 campaign when polls unexpected tightened but still ended up with a majority of over 100 after shaking things up.
I have previously written about the expectations game that each leader and party are playing. So far, with polls narrowing.Theresa May is losing it and Jeremy Corbyn is well ahead - she started high and has slipped badly and arguably things couldn't have got much worse for him. It doesn't mean that she will lose, but if she limps home with a majority of less than fifty, she could face trouble going forward from her own party.
If you run a presidential campaign, you better make sure you know how to play the game and understand the consequences!Suggest a correction