Politico is reporting that a media poll of Democrats in New Hampshire shows Hillary Clinton is the front runner for the Democratic nomination for President. At least, until Al Gore shows up. When Gore's name is added to the mix, Hillary loses a quarter of her voters and Gore overtakes her.
There are any number of ways to take this. First, it shows how weak the Democrat field is if a current Senator and former First Lady gets beaten by a two-time loser for the Presidency. Second, it shows that voters on the left still hold Gore in high regard, possibly because they are high. Third, it shows that fringe leftists are looking for an alternative to the Clinton machine, which spells trouble not just for Hillary, but for Democrats as a whole.
But, there's one way to take this that I don't think anyone else has considered yet. Gore's entry into the race might just be the thing that seals the victory...for Barack Obama. A Clinton-Gore match-up at this stage in the campaign would be a brutal deathmatch that Democrats should not want. Contrary to what you might hear or think, the Gores do not like the Clintons, and no amount of DNC spin will change that.
But how does it help Obama? Let's say for the sake of argument Gore waddles for President (since he'll get winded if he actually runs). The Hillary machine will focus on Gore, and Gore and his followers will go after Hillary. After all, Gore was VP under Hill's husband, so he knows the inner workings of the Clinton White House as well as Hill does. That has the potential of ruining Hillary's chances to remake herself...again. But, Gore has a major problem if he decides to get into the race: he's Al Gore. He's going to blunder, exaggerate, and generally prove to voters why they didn't elect him in 2000.
And all the while, Obama sits back and lets the two of them slug it out, maybe throwing out platitudes for them both in the process to appear to be above the process. At this point, Obama has no real competition. Edwards is sitting at 14:59 of the fame clock, and without a good $400 haircut appointment to boot. Aside from Edwards, there really are no credible candidates on the Democratic side to challenge Obama. Of course, Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich could team up and pool their supporters and overtake them all...provided the rest of them drop out, and even then it's dicey.
Put simply, Obama will be sitting pretty if Gore enters the race because Gore knows too much.
And, yes, I realize usually that's a paradox, but in this case it actually could happen.