The Power of First

Garance on Hillary:

she's also got one incredible and unique advantage no other candidate has: the power of history. For a Democratic Party that's seen as adrift and out of date, having a woman at the top of the ticket can become part of a narrative of national progress and forward motion. More importantly, it could have profound implications for field organizing and strategies for winning actual votes.

That's correct, actually, and a very interesting point. Further, Hillary, by virtue of her time in the public eye, won't be the "first woman nominated by a major party for president!" I mean, technically, she will be, but her candidacy won't be novelty, she's too natural a choice for the ticket. That allows her to reap the benefits of a trailblazer without being seen as a token. And indeed, it fits nicely with the Democratic narrative of civil rights and equality for women, a storyline that's recently derailed into endless arguments over gay marriage. Regaining some sort of "force of history" sheen is crucial for Democrats though, and Hillary might be able to help us with that.

I do, however, have to take issue with something Garance wrote:

as Villaraigosa showed, it can help to have a candidate who actively inspires a fraction of the electorate where there's room for vote growth.

Yes, Villaraigosa did enjoy broad Hispanic support, but given the election we just went through, I wouldn't quite put "inspire" in the same sentence with him. VIllaraigosa didn't inspire much of anyone, it's just that his opponent was actively reviled by broad swaths of the electorate. End result? Turnout was abysmal, but those who did bother to leave the house went with Villaraigosa. So he certainly won, but he's not exactly a good model for future campaigners.