by Matthew Rusling
WASHINGTON, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Since Democrats have shifted further to the left over the years, 2016 White House hopeful Hillary Clinton, a formerly moderate Democrat, is expected to tow the party line to satisfy her Democratic base, experts said.
Clinton, widely viewed as the likely Democratic candidate for 2016, last month kicked off an unofficial public relations campaign with the release of her new book, "Hard Choices," which was followed by nationally televised interviews and public appearances.
But experts said if Clinton wants to avoid a major challenge in the primaries, she will have to lean to the left, as polls show Democrats have moved away from the center in recent years, just as Republicans have shifted right.
"In an ideal world, Hillary Clinton would love to run as a Bill Clinton Democrat. Unfortunately the Democratic Party has moved two steps to the left, and that would not fly today in the way that it would in the 1990s," Republican Strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua.
He added that Democrats want Clinton to be more in tune with the progressive base, and that's why she is seeing challengers emerge from the party to keep her in lock step with the party base.
Indeed, Democrats are more socially liberal than a decade ago, more supportive of an activist government and more in favor of increased regulation of business, according to a Washington Post op-ed by Andrew Kohut, former president of the Pew Research Center.
Still, the shift may not be that drastic for Hillary, as she has long been a champion of health care and women's rights.
"In many ways her policies fit well with the place Democrats are in today," Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, told Xinhua.
Many analysts forecast that in November, Republicans could take the Senate, which would result in a GOP-controlled Congress in 2016. Should Hillary clinch the White house, the makeup of Congress will have a major impact -- possibly the biggest single impact -- on her presidency, Christopher Galdieri, assistant professor at Saint Anselm College, told Xinhua.
That's because presidents tend to have their greatest legislative successes during the first eighteen months of their first term. But a Republican House that reacted to President Clinton's major proposals in the same way they have to President Barack Obama's would make any sort of legislative victories unlikely, he said.