Hillary Clinton Drags Down Democrats in NH

Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a community forum on substance abuse September 17, 2015 in Laconia, New Hampshire. Clinton spent the day campaigning and spoke at on substance abuse.
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

A new poll of New Hampshire likely voters is more bad news for Hillary Clinton. The survey indicates Clinton is the weakest Democrat candidate for next fall’s presidential election.

The poll, by WMUR/CNN, found Clinton leading GOP frontrunner Donald Trump by a modest amount, while both Vermont socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders and Vice President Joe Biden lead the real estate developer by 20 points.

Donald Trump runs 12-13 points better against Clinton than either of the other potential Democrats. Hillary Clinton may still be a favorite for the Democrat nomination, but she looks increasingly like an underdog next November.

The poll, of 743 likely voters, found Clinton leading Trump by 8 points, 50-42 percent. Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, however, lead Trump by 20 points, 57-37 percent. Sanders is something of a favorite-son candidate, as he’s from Vermont. Vice President Joe Biden, who isn’t formally a candidate, lead Trump by an almost equal amount, 56-37 percent. Biden and Sanders both win Independents in a hypothetical match up, while Trump edges Clinton among them.

This poll, it should be said, should be taken with a certain grain of salt. The poll’s sample is split 46 percent Democrat, 38 percent Republican and only 17 percent Independent. That composition is completely different than the 2012 electorate, according to exit polls.

In the 2012 election, in which Barack Obama won the state by 4 points, Democrats made up 30 percent of the electorate, Republicans were 27 percent and Independents were 43 percent of the vote.

While this poll isn’t a credible reflection of a possible general election match-up between Democrats and Republicans next Fall, it can tell us a lot about the individual Democrat candidates tested.

The poll gives both Sanders and Biden nearly identical 20 point leads over Trump, suggesting a certain basic Democrat advantage in the poll. Sanders has a commanding lead in the state for the Democrat nomination, according to most recent polls, while Biden, as a non-candidate generally polls a distant third for the nomination.

Hillary Clinton’s lead in this poll over Trump, though, is only 8 points. Even with the apparently strong Democrat make-up of the poll, she only manages to just hit the 50 percent threshold.

This suggests a profound weakness for Hillary Clinton heading into the general election. This weakness is built on ongoing revelations about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for her work as Secretary of State.

Only a slim majority of likely voters, 51 percent, say they have heard a “great deal” about the email controversy. This is up only slightly since May, indicating that the latest revelations haven’t yet been absorbed by the voters. In spite of this, 39 percent of all likely voters say they are “less likely” to vote for Hillary Clinton because of the scandal.

Unsurprisingly, 58 percent of Republicans say they are less likely to vote for Hillary because of the email controversy. Among Independents, 43 percent say they are less likely to vote for Clinton. Amazingly though, more than one-in-five Democrats, 21 percent, also say they are less likely to vote for Hillary because of the email scandal.

Considering that only half the voters have any real knowledge of the controversy, these are damning numbers for Hillary. As the number of voters who have heard a “great deal” about the controversy increases, either through continuing new disclosures or waves of TV advertising that will surround the issue next year, Hillary’s numbers are likely to fall further.

This poll, showing both Sanders and Biden with 20 point leads over Donald Trump is, at best, a far outlier. If either of those hypotheticals come to pass, the final results will be far closer. Even with such an aberration, though, Hillary Clinton can only just maintain a lead over Trump.

New Hampshire, which twice has rescued the Clintons, may sound their death knell this election.


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