Ramesh Ponnuru‘s latest column at National Review Online examines Hillary Clinton’s path to the presidency.

Hillary Clinton has glaring weaknesses as a candidate. The historical odds are against her goal: getting a third term in the White House for one party. The Democrats should nonetheless be considered the likely winners if they nominate her.

Clinton has had months of bad news. Her mishandling of official e-mails as secretary of state, along with her clumsy lies about it, have kept generating unflattering coverage. Her favorability ratings have been falling for four years straight. A small majority of Americans have an unfavorable impression of her in the latest poll average at RealClearPolitics. In August, a Quinnipiac poll found that 61 percent of voters say she’s not honest or trustworthy. Starting that month, nine polls in a row had her behind Bernie Sanders among New Hampshire Democrats.

While she has recovered the lead there and enjoyed better press since the first Democratic debate, Republicans can point to other reasons for optimism. They have control of Congress, most governorships, and most state legislative chambers: Perhaps that means that the country now has a natural Republican majority? They will also benefit from time-for-a-change sentiment. Only once since 1952 has a party won the Electoral College three times in a row. The exception came in 1988, when George H. W. Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan. But voters then were much happier about the state of the country than they are now. In the fall of 1988, most polls found that Americans were slightly more likely to say that the country was “headed in the right direction” than that it was “on the wrong track.” Now, more than twice as many people give the negative answer as give the positive one.