In the opening of Joshua Green‘s “The Front-Runner’s Fall” on, it’s reported that Hillary Clinton’s adviser/pollster Mark Penn “conducted a poll just after Clinton’s Senate reelection in November 2006 that showed her running a very distant third [in Iowa], barely ahead of the state’s governor, Tom Vilsack. The poll produced a curious revelation: Iowans rated Clinton at the top of the field on questions of leadership, strength, and experience — but most did not plan to vote for her, because they didn’t like her.
“This presented a basic conundrum: Should Clinton run a positive campaign, to persuade Iowans to reconsider her? Or should she run a negative campaign that would accuse her opponents of being untrustworthy and under-qualified? Clinton’s top advisers never agreed on the answer. Over the course of the campaign, they split into competing factions that drifted in and out of Clinton’s favor but always seemed to work at cross purposes. And Clinton herself could never quite decide who was right.
“Above all, this irony emerges: Clinton ran on the basis of managerial competence — on her capacity, as she liked to put it, to “do the job from Day One.” In fact, she never behaved like a chief executive, and her own staff proved to be her Achilles’ heel. What is clear from the internal documents is that Clinton’s loss derived not from any specific decision she made but rather from the preponderance of the many she did not make. Her hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency.”