Clinton Courts Obama’s Coalition

The speech Hillary Clinton gave on Monday focused on voting rights:

Nate Cohn sees the political logic of the speech:

Clinton only lost in 2008 because her weakness among progressive activists was paired with Obama’s showing among black and young voters, who combined to assemble a non-traditional Democratic primary coalition.

If she wants to wrap up the nomination quickly, she need to win over these Obama ’08 constituencies. To do that, Clinton doesn’t want to just seem like she’s checking the boxes of the Democratic platform. She wants to be seen as a champion of the causes that animate the different corners of the Democratic primary electorate. If she’s not, someone else could be. At the very least, Clinton doesn’t want to be on the wrong side of a big faction of the party, like she was on Iraq.

Last night’s speech sounded like a first step toward being a champion of a relatively new liberal cause: voting rights. The Clinton folks have to be happy that an issue like this is enflaming the base. It allows Clinton to hit her two relative vulnerabilities among non-white voters and on the left, and there aren’t too many general election downside risks to siding with voting rights. Perhaps as a result, Clinton was pretty unequivocal about her position. If the Clinton folks are smart, they’ll return to this issue with some regularity.

For what it’s worth, I tend to think this is the right call for Clinton – but as Cohn notes, one with limited potential.

After Obama, I suspect the Democrats will likely pick someone less prudent, cautious and leading-from-behind. They’ll want a clearer liberal who leads from out-front, as the broader culture shifts left. Hillary is not a natural pick for that role – so she’s shrewd to start nailing down those constituencies early. But it’s on national security that she’ll really have to prove she’s not a McCainiac. Alex MacGillis predicts the battles over voter suppression and voter fraud will stretch long into the future:

[T]he voting wars didn’t start with Obama and they won’t end with him. Leave aside the obvious big-picture history going back to Jim Crow and the Voting Rights Act; the modern era of the voting battles started back when Obama was but a humble state senator having trouble getting a rental car at the 2000 Democratic convention. They were an outgrowth of that year’s election, which laid bare just how much voting rules could matter at the margin. Democrats took the election as a lesson to be more vigilant against things like the voting rolls purge that eliminated countless eligible Floridians from the rolls; many Republicans drew the opposite lesson, to do everything possible to crimp turnout among likely Democratic voters, to keep states like Florida from ever being so close again.