A lot can happen between now and then, but barring something truly unprecedented and totally unforeseen — a meteorite, a Benghazi revelation, a health scare, or a Martin O’Malley groundswell — on July 28, 2016, Hillary Clinton will step onto a stage in Philadelphia. There, surrounded by red-white-and-blue bunting and balloons — as well as Bill, Chelsea, baby granddaughter Charlotte, and tens of thousands of screaming Democrats — she will officially become her party’s presidential nominee. It will be a long-awaited and historic moment, the first time a woman (and the second time a Clinton) has topped a major party’s presidential ticket. And already some Republicans are licking their chops, while some Democrats are experiencing pangs of buyer’s remorse.
For much of the Obama presidency, there has been a general sense of calm among Democrats about their chances to retain the White House. Clinton’s tenure as secretary of State was distinguished, if not especially consequential. Her favorability ratings hovered around all-time highs. It wasn’t just that her nomination seemed a foregone conclusion; given the dysfunction of the Republican Party and the demographic changes in the American electorate, the race seemed hers to lose. It was hard to find a Democratic operative not in fairly high spirits.