For reasons only a Democrat can understand, Hillary Clinton has long been considered the prohibitive favorite to win both the party’s nomination in 2016 and the White House. The most recent Associated Press poll, though, confirms that her campaign is off to a rocky start.
Her favorable/unfavorable ratings among Americans have gotten worse in the past year, despite months of fawning media coverage. Just 46 percent of Americans view the former First Lady favorably today, the same percentage as a year ago. The number of Americans with an unfavorable view, however, has increased slightly. The number with strongly negative views has increased more. Today, 30 percent of Americans, almost one-third, have strongly negative views towards Clinton.
Most of the decline in her poll ratings came last year, before widespread news about her use of a private email system while she was Secretary of State. In fact, her poll numbers have changed little since the controversy over her email and foreign donations to her family’s foundation first broke in the press.
Some of this is due to the haphazard manner the press has covered the scandals. While the stories are covered, they are isolated and readily swept away from the headlines by other breaking events. In the poll, just 20 percent of Americans report they have been following the email scandal very closely.
It could also be due, though, to the fact that Hillary is already a highly polarizing figure. General opinions of her are firmly set, oblivious to new information. Americans may believe they know Hillary so well that new developments barely register in their thinking.
This isn’t necessarily good for Mrs. Clinton. Just 18 percent of Americans say they are very excited about her candidacy for President. Almost twice that number, 34 percent, say they are angry or disappointed that she’s running.
The poll had far more Americans who identify as Democrats than as Republicans. In the poll 32 percent of adults said they were Democrat, while just 21 percent were Republican. The 11-point spread in favor of Democrats was far greater than the GOP +5 spread found in an AP poll of likely voters on the eve of the Republican wave in 2014.
Another negative for Hillary in this latest AP poll is that her numbers have declined as Obama’s have improved slightly. His favorable rating has improved by 4 points in the past year while his unfavorable rating has improved by 5. Hillary, by contrast, saw her overall ratings dip in the same period.
Hillary’s poll numbers today are at the same level as Obama’s. His trend is improving, though, while her’s is worsening. In hypothetical match-ups with potential Republican challengers, she holds only very slim leads, despite far greater name identification.
This latest poll was conducted at the end of April, just as new information on foreign donations to her family foundation were being revealed. The obvious conflicts of interest these contributions pose was not addressed in the poll. Even before this new scandal, Americans had serious questions about Hillary’s trustworthiness. An amazing 41 percent of Americans say Hillary is not honest.
It is increasingly hard to imagine a scenario where Hillary wins the White House. This latest poll, however, makes it difficult to imagine her even winning the Democrat nomination.