CBS News released a poll over the weekend on the Presidential primaries. Some of the top lines of this poll look a little off as compared to the other recent polls (the sample size is hideously small), but the favorability ratings tell a very ominous story for Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Party. While Clinton leads the Democratic field relatively comfortably, she has favorability ratings that will likely doom her in the general – unless she has the good fortune to draw Donald Trump as a general election opponent.
Among the general electorate, Hillary is viewed unfavorably by 53 per cent of the electorate, as opposed to only 33 per cent who view her favorably. Those are the kinds of numbers that a candidate generally cannot survive, unless they are an incumbent, or unless their opponent is even more hated.
Moreover, the email controversy is doing real damage to Hillary – with 71% of the public viewing her actions in setting up a private, insecure email server as being inappropriate, and well over 60% of Americans viewing her explanations for having done so as being unsatisfactory.
This poll continues a lengthy trend of bad polling news for Hillary. A recent Suffolk poll found her favorability underwater at 38/51. Quinnipiac’s poll last week indicated that Clinton is tremendously unpopular in swing states, especially Ohio, where her favorability is underwater at 38/56. NBC/WSJ/Marist found her national popularity among registered voters to be even worse, at 36/58.
At the end of the day, the general election contest for President is decided by the very lowest information voters in all of America, and is thus largely a popularity contest (although incumbency still has a powerful pull). And one thing Hillary has constantly demonstrated is that the more voters see of her (especially on television), the less they like her. This has to have been a major reason that Hillary spent the first several months of her campaign avoiding television appearances (especially where she took questions) like the plague, hoping to coast on inevitability as long as she possibly could.
Unfortunately for Hillary, Bernie Sanders’ insurgent campaign (combined with her unexpected email troubles) have forced her to emerge somewhat from her cocoon in an attempt to rehabilitate her image, and these have been uniformly disastrous. As Heather Wilhelm noted about Hillary’s now-infamous pancake breakfast last week:
On Monday, NBC’s Today Show hosted everyone’s favorite person who might actually be an android, Hillary Clinton, for a folksy “Pancakes and Politics” town hall.
The setting was autumnal Hollis, N.H., in a cozy red barn; Hillary wore a cozy blazer the color of a minor explosion. The event opened with the jovial flipping of pancakes, because we all know that the former secretary of state — a woman whose inside desperately screams “Don’t blackball me, I NEED THIS!” but whose outside cleverly imitates an animatronic wax statue from Madame Tussaud’s — likes nothing better than to stay home and cook.
“I guess you’ve probably flipped a pancake before in your life?” Savannah Guthrie, the host, asked gamely.
“Yes. I have. I have.” Here, in this moment, Clinton stared at the spatula she’d been forced to hold, perhaps considering whether she could quietly murder someone with it. The seconds slowed. The spatula quivered. No one died. Instead, Hillary glanced up at the lofty, rough-hewn ceiling and replied in a flat tone: “Never in a barn.”
This is a rough approximation of the likability and warmth Clinton radiates every time she is seen in public.
Fortunately for Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump still leads the Republican field, and he is also viewed unfavorably by 53% of Americans. No one else on the Republican side is even nearly as unpopular among the general electorate. If Trump maintains his lead through the Republican primaries and gets the nomination, Hillary might well win a battle of attrition over which party can avoid low turnout to the greatest level of success.
Otherwise, the 2016 election is likely to turn into a bloodbath.