As a political geek, it's been hard to read the political news lately. Not because it's been bad. It's been absurd in a funny-but-not-actually-funny way as the real Republican race gets bogged down in the Trump sideshow. Trump leads a pack of mostly "also ran" candidates and gets attention by saying ridiculous things as everyone else struggles to stay above water. Eventually, the GOP establishment will congeal around somebody...who that is, I have no idea. As with my own party, I'm guessing it's someone within the established party structure, with fundraising and moderate appeal. Kasich? Jeb? Scott Walker's chances appear to be slipping away. But, rest assured, the primary process will not lead to Donald Trump. What to make of his current popularity is confusing...he's hurting the legit radical, weird candidates most of all probably. Your Rubio. Your Huckabee. Your Rand Paul. Trump is essentially sucking the air out of the race that they could have used to stir up something before the party establishment puts a collective foot down.
Now to my own party. Keep in mind, I'm not really an "insider" unless you count working for the Kerry campaign in 2004 and being in Grant Park on Election Night in 2008. I know my stuff, but others know it far better. So understand that everything I'm saying is pretty straight forward. It's just that--how should I put this?--everybody seems to have an agenda currently and people are desperate for a news story. Thus, you're reading/hearing a bunch of extremely politically ignorant stuff. The majority of it is garbage. Ignore it. In reality, the race is fairly boring on the Democratic side right now. Vice President Biden isn't going to get in the race. He'd be an idiot if he did. And I could easily write up a similar piece on reasons people may be speculating that he'll run right now. Don't listen to those people.
Anyway, there are essentially three reasons people are breathlessly writing about how Hillary Clinton is in some kind of "trouble" right now in September of 2015 a little over a year out.
--You're a Bernie Sanders fan. I love Bernie, too. His policy positions are probably better than Hillary's though the two are very close. He's to the left of her in substantial ways, but given that she's running more as an Obama heir than the old Clinton moderate, there's not a lot to rumble about unless you're a "true" progressive. And notice I'm not even mentioning the socialism thing. Yes, it's actually European-style Democratic Socialism. That's not Bernie's problem. Bernie's problem is demographic. He does great among white progressives in New Hampshire and Iowa. But good luck with the more moderate Dems in other places around the nation. Hillary polls at 70% approval with minorities. Bernie polls at about 10%. That's a tough road. Not to mention that party big shots have already been endorsing Hillary with current office holders and high level donors lining up behind her. Bernie lacks the fundraising support, the voter support, and let's not forget he's only recently a Democrat in the way that Trump is only recently a Republican. I don't doubt the sincerity of either one. But there's not a lot of built-in support lines within each party for them.
--Reason number two why you may think Hillary is in the middle of a non-existent horse race right now is that Election 2016 is very, very boring so far. Hillary's only competition within the party is Bernie Sanders. Her possible match-up against the GOP is...not exactly steaming out of the gate after her. She has a huge money lead, potential delegate lead, is well-positioned across the country for the primaries, and is riding the coat tails of a President who has unemployment low, we're living in a time of relative peace and safety, and it's been one of the most successful Presidencies of the last 100 years. People don't trust Republicans on the economy, jobs, foreign policy, women's issues. It's her election to lose if the turnout is there like 2008 and 2012. That's an interesting plot line I'm following. But nothing seems to point at a regression in voter turnout so far. The difference between her really, actually losing her huge advantages and people wishing that was happening so they have something to talk about is...fuzzy. The media is saving the "electing the first woman after the first African-American" pieces until closer to Inauguration when making history is less theoretical and more immediate.
So you have a class of journalists and pundits who are looking for anything that will stick as newsworthy in the face of waiting around for voting to start. There's Hillary's e-mails. And if you care about what Hillary does with her e-mails, you're really stretching for entertainment. Much like the previous Benghazi "scandal," or the Planned Parenthood videos, there's trying to play gotcha by partisans and a large mass in the middle who would rather we stop having to hear about it. These are the same people who cared whether Bill Clinton was romancing someone other than his wife in the Oval Office. It was silly in the 1990's and is still silly.
--Which brings us to the last reason people think there's an exciting Presidential race going on. There's no other way to say it other than ignorance. Not everyone pays attention enough to be able to sort out the noise of election season. Not everybody understands the structural things like how much elite support within the party matters. This is where I put a second group of Bernie supporters who are less "true believers" and more just don't understand how this all will play out. This is the #FeelTheBern crowd who thinks they're riding a wave a la Barack Obama in 2008 but will be moping and wondering what happened when the primaries move to places Bernie will struggle. Like Texas. Florida. Ohio. Pretty much most of the country. I think quite a few voters who only half pay attention see Bernie Sanders "surging" in the polls right now and think Hillary can be defeated. I'd just point you over to FiveThirtyEight's endorsement calculator where you'll notice Bernie has none. Not a single major one. He's fun to follow around and listen to. Points for going to the heart of the evangelical world yesterday and attempting to find some common ground. But very little exciting is going on at the moment.
I love politics, but even I may have to check out for awhile. Bernie Sanders cannot beat Hillary. The Republicans are a mess. And this thing probably won't even get really interesting for almost another year. I'm not saying tune out. I'm just saying very little of what happens right now will matter come November 2016.