One of the common clichés about Hillary Clinton is that she should be running away with the 2016 election; that somehow the relative closeness of the race with Donald Trump exposes a deep failing on her part. That kind of thinking disregards both the divided American electorate and the historic struggle she faces.

Garrison Keillor waxes eloquent about Hillary Clinton’s quest to break a 227-year barrier:

Some day historians will get this right and look back at the steady pitter-pat of scandals that turned out to be nothing, nada, zero and ixnay and will conclude that, almost a century after women’s suffrage, almost 50 years after Richard Nixon signed Title IX into law, a woman was required to run for office wearing concrete shoes. Check back fifty years from now and if I’m wrong, go ahead and dance on my grave.

Keillor has the courage to say what far too many observers won’t: Pretending Hillary Clinton’s gender isn’t a monumental obstacle to her candidacy is denying a quarter millennium of institutional sexism.

This was never going to be a cakewalk, no matter who Hillary Clinton faced. It wasn’t going to be a cakewalk for any Democratic nominee. The rightwing attack apparatus would do its brutally efficient work on any candidate the Democrats nominated. The corporate media would do their part to enable the right’s attacks.

Moreover, this is a divided country, and recent presidential elections are rarely popular vote blowouts:

Obama 51.1 – Romney 47.2

Obama 52.9 – McCain 45.7

Bush 50.7 – Kerry 48.3

Bush 47.9 – Kerry 48.4

The real wonder is that Hillary Clinton, facing a double standard of colossal proportions, is still winning. It will be a tough slog every single day until November 8.

No one should expect Clinton to cruise to an easy victory.

She certainly doesn’t expect it, all-knowing pundits notwithstanding.