At least that was the prediction in this article from The World and I in June 1992 by Donald Lambro:
This is a year of turmoil and terror in the Democratic Party: Their likely presidential nominee battered, bloodied, and ridiculed even before the general election has begun; angry, unforgiving voters appear ready to wreak punishment on the scandal-ridden Democratic-controlled Congress; and a fiery anti-incumbent mood may be sweeping the nation.
Rarely, in contemporary American politics, has a prospective Democratic presidential standard-bearer emerged successfully from his early primaries burdened by so many deep public doubts about his character within his own party. This is the astonishing situation that now faces the Democrats and Bill Clinton as he moves to lock up the nomination and convince a doubting nation that he is not the “slick Willie” portrayed by his political enemies, depicted by the new media, and lampooned by late-night comedians.
A look at the Gallup polls over the past few moths show why Democrats are becoming increasingly nervous about putting Clinton at the head of their ticket.
In a head-to-head match up on March 20, Bush led by only 52-43 percent and Clinton was indeed within striking range. But as the weekly disclosures took their toll during the ensuing primaries, Clinton’s margin fell to 54-38 percent on March 29 and then fell further to 54-34 by the beginning of April.
Many Democrats fear that all of this points to the possibility of very negative general election if Clinton is the nominee.
“What’s going to happen is that the Democrats will have a view of Bill Clinton and the Republicans will have a view of Bush and the swing voters will be the battleground,” Cunningham said. “And the questions will be over the negative perceptions of the candidates and whose perceptions will dominate.
“When it gets down to the final two candidates, you are facing a very negative election,” he said. “This is going to be a very depressing campaign–there’s nothing uplifting about it. Bush is going to campaign on the fact that he’s not Bill Clinton and Bill Clinton is going to campaign by saying that things are terrible in America.”
Well, that was then, and that was twelve years ago. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is that the pundits are crying doom, despair, and agony for the Democrats. According to CNN, the current President Bush leads Howard Dean 51% to 46%, and there are still the primaries to go. If I were Karl Rove (well, I’d be a lot balder, a lot fatter, and arrogant beyond words), I would be worried.
Link via Joe Conason’s Journal at Salon.com