A new Fox News poll confirms that questions of honesty continue to plague Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the White House.
Almost 60 percent of voters say that Hillary’s natural instinct is “hiding the truth.” Unsurprisingly, Republicans and Independents are more likely to hold this view, but 30 percent of self-identified Democrats also believe that Hillary has a troubled relationship with the truth.
Donald Trump’s surge in the GOP primary contest is almost solely attributable to a sense among Republicans that, regardless of the details of what he is saying, he is at least being “honest” with voters.
In an increasingly uncertain world, Americans want to be able to believe that their leaders are speaking honestly. That may be the one skill that Hillary can never learn.
It is her struggle on this question with a sizable portion of her base that is the biggest threat to her campaign. While she is the presumptive favorite for the Democrat nomination, she has rarely ever polled higher than the mid-50s against the Democrat field. This has been true even against an array or virtually unknown challengers.
In head-to-head match-ups against potential Republican rivals, while usually holding a lead, she rarely polls higher than the mid-40s. Considering that she is better known than all but a very small handful of politicians, this is a fairly weak position.
These poll numbers make the groundswell for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders a bit more understandable. On the one hand, the growing support for Sanders is the most absurd thing in American politics since Abby Hoffman tried to levitate the Pentagon or Father Coughlin rode the nation’s radio waves. Given that almost one-third of Democrats believe Hillary is existentially wired to lie, though, Sanders turn on the national stage makes some amount of sense.
Hillary’s problems on the trust issue compound once she is out of the protective hothouse of Democrat politics. Almost two-thirds of white and male voters believe Hillary’s natural inclination is to lie. Even a majority of women voters, 54 percent, believe she naturally tries to hide the truth.
Among all voters, 70 percent say a candidate’s tendency to lie or cover up the truth would be a “deal breaker,” even if they supported that candidate on all the issues. Almost three-quarters of Independents say the ability to trust a candidate trumps their stances on the issues.
Questions of trust or honesty are an existential problem for Hillary. Unfortunately for her, this weakness coincides with a time that trust is one of the top issues for the electorate. Between the economy, illegal immigration and a smoldering world, Americans are in a very anxious state.