As the traditional start of the Presidential race nears, Hillary Clinton’s allegedly inevitable path to the Democrat nomination looks fraught with danger, according to several recent polls. Setting aside all the conventional wisdom caveats about early poll numbers and summer doldrums, Clinton faces some deeply existential challenges in her latest quest for the White House.
Over the weekend, Gallup released its latest numbers on Hillary’s favorable/unfavorable rating. Her favorable rating has once again dipped into negative territory. Almost half of Americans, 46 percent have a negative view of Hillary, while 43 percent have a favorable view. The last time her numbers were upside down in Gallup was at the end of 2007, when she was poised to lose the Democrat nomination to President Barack Obama.
No Democrat votes had yet been cast in December 2007, and Hillary’s only real opponents at that time were two relatively unknown Democrat Senators, Obama and John Edwards. Neither were given much of a chance of defeating the Clinton juggernaut, but just weeks later, both Obama and Edwards defeated Hillary in the Iowa Caucuses.
This year, in both Iowa and New Hampshire, Hillary’s favorable ratings among voters in the two key states are horrendous, according to a new NBC poll. In Iowa, 56 percent of voters have an unfavorable view of her and in New Hampshire, 57 percent have a negative impression. Her “net unfavorablity” in Iowa is minus-19 points. In New Hampshire, it is minus-20 points.
Her favorablity ratings in both states are worse than President Obama’s. After eight years of holding the Oval Office, any incumbent party candidate faces a tough challenge in retaining the office, given the public’s predilection to divide control between the two parties. That challenge is appreciably tougher when the party’s candidate is more unpopular than the incumbent.
Obviously, Hillary’s poll numbers are suffering from current news about a possible criminal investigation of her use of a private email server while she served as Secretary of State. This Spring and Summer, her campaign has weathered numerous stories about questionable donations by foreign governments to her eponymous family foundation, while she served as the nation’s top diplomat.
These specific stories will likely die down as voting nears, but they have left a decidedly negative film on her campaign. Multiple polls have identified a very serious problem for Hillary; voters don’t believe she is honest and trustworthy.
A CNN poll released Monday found that “honest and trustworthy” was the most desired attribute in a Presidential candidate across all voter demographics. The “ability to get things done,” which is an attribute Hillary loudly assumes for herself, falls in the middle of the pack of qualities most desired by voters.
Interestingly, “stands up for what one believes, even in the face of criticism” is also a top attribute voters are seeking today. Hillary, with her highly scripted press events and reluctance to take any questions that haven’t already been vetted and approved, simply doesn’t face criticism of any real kind on the campaign trail.
Her rhetoric claims that she stands up on issues, but voters would be hard-pressed to find any real world examples.
Obviously, Hillary can’t lose the Democrat nomination unless she faces a serious challenge. Despite his ability to draw some press attention, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders isn’t really a serious challenger. No other announced challenger has any clear path to serious challenge her presumed nomination.
In politics, you can’t lose if you aren’t challenged. That said, Hillary does face a very serious existential challenge. Voters don’t particularly like her. Her attributes don’t match with what voters are looking for. The quality they seek the most, honesty, is nowhere in her playbook, or even her political DNA.
Hillary 2.0 may simply be a focus-tested product that no one wants to buy.