Before the Democrats' drubbing on Tuesday, Bill Clinton was relentlessly stumping for candidates and his party around the country, especially in areas "Barack Obama dare not tread," says John Heilemann in New York. Given Clinton's political skills, and his wife's relative popularity now, would the Democrats be better off if Hillary Clinton had beaten Obama in the primaries, then Sen. John McCain in the general? Heilemann takes a look:

Looking back on Clinton’s bi-partisan proclivities when she was in the Senate, it’s tempting to think she might have had more success at finding a functional modus vivendi with Republicans. Yet that thought is rooted in selective amnesia, in forgetting the extremity of the animus that the right has always harbored toward Hillary — which is now at bay, I suspect, because she is a comfortable distance from the Oval Office. If she occupied that real estate, the intransigence and nastiness would have had a different cast (no birthers, no posters of HRC with a bone through her nose), but would’ve been no less intense.

For Hillary, then, advancing similar policies in a similar macroeconomic and partisan environment would surely have meant that her first two years would have been no less rocky than Obama’s. The question is how she would have managed the political fallout from all that.

Read the entire article in New York.