Clinton Poll Slide Continues; Top GOP Candidates Now Beating Her in Battleground States

Andrew Burton/Getty Images/AFP
Andrew Burton/Getty Images/AFP

Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers have been steadily eroding for some time now, prompting her campaign team to follow the generally effective strategy of hiding their hideous candidate until equilibrium is restored. The idea of Hillary Clinton is far more appealing to Democrat voters than the reality.

That isn’t working this time, not even with Donald Trump drawing so much attention to himself – and, the Democrat media hoped, negative attention to the GOP – that Hillary faded to invisibility. The Trump Moment was supposed to be a perfect opportunity for Hillary to lay low, while her loyal supporters, donors, and former employees in the mainstream media quietly strangled her scandals and pronounced the corpses “old news” that was no longer relevant.

Instead, one of the more solid political polls, Quinnipiac, just released a new study that found Clinton’s poll numbers crashing even though she’s been kept out of the public eye and insulated from anything remotely resembling an “interview” by even mildly inquisitive reporters.

Quinnipiac leads off by describing Trump as the “biggest loser” in their polls, because he has “negative favorability ratings of almost 2-1 in each state.” From there on out, it’s an unbroken drum roll of doom for Hillary. She’s now running behind Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Scott Walker, and Jeb Bush in Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia. In Iowa and Colorado, socialist upstart Bernie Sanders runs better against those Republican candidates than she does. (And Vice President Joe Biden fares worse, although he rates better on the “honesty” and “caring about voter needs” metrics than Clinton, for the few people not named “Biden” who cared about his status.)

“Hillary Clinton’s numbers have dropped among voters in the key swing states of Colorado, Iowa and Virginia. She has lost ground in the horserace and on key questions about her honesty and leadership,” judged Qunnipiac University Poll assistant director Peter A. Brown.  He added that her crucial “strong leadership” metric has “dropped four to 10 points, depending on the state, and she is barely above 50 percent in each of the three states.”

Assistant director Tim Malloy noted that Governor Walker has a few soft metrics that suggest he is “still battling a name recognition handicap,” which should be taken as positive news by the Walker campaign, because that’s the easiest problem for a serious candidate to fix. The poll generally paints a picture of such growth opportunities for all of the Republican candidates, while casting a deep shadow over Clinton’s chances, because she already has all the name recognition she could ask for, and people just plain dislike and distrust her. The odds of Hillary Clinton growing more likable or trustworthy over the coming year are slim.

How is Trump doing so well in so many polls – even hanging on to a front-runner slot after the his spat with Senator John McCain, and remarks that were widely portrayed as insulting to the core Republican constituency of military veterans – if his unfavorable numbers are so historically awful in practically every state? Does that give Clinton fans reason to think her support is stronger than her own dismal ratings would suggest?

Not really, no.

It’s still early yet, so no one should be either planning campaign exit strategies or measuring the Oval Office for new drapes based on polling numbers. But at this early stage, when name recognition and media presence are so crucial, it’s significant that Trump flourishes despite most serious political analysts of both Left and Right dismissing him as a clown, while Clinton sinks into obscurity despite the media almost universally presenting her as not only a very serious candidate, but the presumptive favorite to win the general election.

Let me put it this way: people may report many unfavorable qualities about Trump, but they view the conventional-wisdom Establishment junk he’s been trashing even more unfavorably – from illegal immigration, to Obama’s dead-parrot “economic recovery,” politically-correct hypersensitivity, the parasitic Ruling Class, and timid do-nothing GOP Establishment leaders who squandered their 2014 midterm election victory.

They might have reservations about Donald Trump himself, but they like an awful lot of what they hear him saying, and we’re not quite to the stage of the election where voters would expect him to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that he really means it, and has workable plans to implement solid policies. We’re not even to the stage where most people expect the candidate to lay out a plausible strategy for winning a national election.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is the avatar of all those things voters dislike even more than they dislike her. Core Democrat supporters will pull the lever for her in 2016 because they feel like they have to, not because they really want to. (Make no mistake, that will be good enough to deliver a formidable pile of votes, but at the moment it makes for flaccid poll numbers.)

Her personal unfavorables can be massaged a bit by keeping her away from cameras, but at this stage in the game, that also takes her off the stage, leaving every bit of excitement and momentum in the hands of Sanders, who is not huddled in a basement with campaign consultants, waiting for Congress to stop asking questions about a secret email server. He also doesn’t have to worry about the hypocrisy of criticizing an Administration he was a significant part of.

Trump and Sanders will fade, but their influence will not be entirely evanescent. There is a huge opportunity to run against the rotten status quo Obama and the GOP leadership have created. Even people on the far Left see it, and think Sanders might be the one to exploit it. The rest of America is waiting for someone else to join Trump in attacking from the Right.

There will be chances ahead for solid Republican candidates to do that, while making themselves better known to the national electorate. This election is a strong conservative growth market, which will reward bold political investment strategies. Critics attempting to end the Trump Moment early by pointing out his past history of supporting Democrats and liberal positions are missing the nature of his appeal. Right now, in this early stage, the campaign is all about conducting energy. Trump is a flash bulb. Hillary Clinton is a vacuum tube.