US presidential election campaigns usually get under way early in the year before the poll itself, with the establishment of exploratory committees and the gathering of lists of potential supporters and donors. High quality global journalism requires investment.
More than two and a half years before the 2016 poll, however, the scaffolding to support a campaign to make Mrs Clinton president is already substantially built. Two political committees have been set up, one gathering names of potential volunteers in all 50 states; the other standing by to raise money. A Democratic-aligned rapid-response unit – the team inside a campaign war room that instantly rebuffs opposition attacks – is already up and running.
A fourth group, Madam President, was launched last year by Emily’s List, the feminist activist network, to energise the case for putting a woman in the White House. “I don’t think I have ever seen this kind of activity this early,” says Harold Ickes, a longtime confidant and adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton.
The political operation that Barack Obama wielded against her so effectively in 2008 is now merging with Mrs Clinton’s. This gives her huge advantages, sucking the oxygen – and money – away from alternative candidates for the Democratic party’s nomination.
“If someone (else) runs, it’s really to just try and set themselves up for the future,” David Plouffe, a former Obama adviser, told Bloomberg Television. “Build their name and get a show on MSNBC [the liberal alternative to the rightwing Fox TV].”
“It is an absolutely unprecedented situation,” says Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman and now a Washington-based consultant, speaking of Mrs Clinton’s early start. “The closest precedent I can think of is Eisenhower in 1952, but the nomination process was dramatically different then.”