Gee, I wonder if she’s running? Let’s put this another way. If anyone had a 6:1 lead over the closest potential opponent in a future race (with a 61-point lead), and that closest opponent’s name was Joe Biden, who wouldn’t run?
Hillary Rodham Clinton holds a commanding 6 to 1 lead over other Democrats heading into the 2016 presidential campaign, while the Republican field is deeply divided with no clear front-runner, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Clinton trounces her potential primary rivals with 73 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, reinforcing a narrative of inevitability around her nomination if she runs. Vice President Biden is second with 12 percent, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) is third with 8 percent.
Although Clinton’s favorability rating has fallen since she stepped down as secretary of state a year ago, she has broad Democratic support across ideological, gender, ethnic and class lines. Her lead is the largest recorded in an early primary matchup in at least 30 years of Post-ABC polling.
Chris Cillizza emphasizes that point:
Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 61-point edge over Joe Biden in new Washington Post-ABC News polling makes her the single biggest frontrunner for a Democratic presidential nomination in the history of the poll, an affirmation of the conventional wisdom that the nomination is hers for the taking.
Yes, well, Hillary fans shouldn’t pop the corks on the bubbly quite yet. First, we’ve seen this movie before, when Hillary had a commanding lead in December 2006 over a first-term Senator named Barack Obama, 39/17. Granted, that wasn’t a sixty-one point lead, but given Hillary’s high profile, her husband’s reputation within the Democratic party, and their superior organization, the 2008 nomination was hers for the taking, too — and yet she still blew it.
Besides, when one looks inside the numbers, the picture isn’t quite as rosy. She has a 58/38 approval rating overall, with 26% strongly unfavorable matched against 32% strongly favorable. The topline among independents is 53/42, but strongly unfavorable outweighs strongly favorable, 28% to 23%. And that’s after a year out of the spotlight, when approval numbers usually rebound, and without getting challenged publicly on Benghazi yet, as well as her mediocre record otherwise at State.
What happens when Hillary has to go on the road and start naming her accomplishments? Former Clinton adviser Lanny Davis couldn’t come up with any examples on the Hugh Hewitt show this week:
HH: All right, one question, you’ve got a minute. Summarize for me what she accomplished as Secretary of State.
LD: Well, the biggest thing of all is goodwill around the world, which is what secretaries of State do.
HH: Like in Syria…
LD: I don’t know what any secretary of State…
HH: …and Egypt and Libya?
LD: I don’t know, well, Libya and certainly the intervention in Libya and getting rid of Qaddafi, you would say that’s a pretty good achievement for the President. But these are presidential achievements with a partnership of the secretary of State. What do secretaries of State do? For example, she was very instrumental in the details of the Iranian sanctions program, which has produced, apparently, some results. I’m very skeptical about this deal in Iran on the nuclear weaponry. But the credit she deserves on this sanctions program, which literally was her program in the State Department to enforce, but in partnership with Barack Obama.
HH: So her achievement is that…
LD: But this doesn’t change the question about the secretary of State having achievement. This is a secretary of State is the most popular woman in the world and restored relations with everyone in the world.
HH: All right, Lanny, we’re out of time, but your achievement is one that’s been swept away by the President.
Er, yeah. American popularity abroad was just surging in those years, huh?
On the Republican side, the WaPo/ABC poll has Paul Ryan topping the field with 20% and Jeb Bush at 18%, in a poll with only one Republican governor mentioned — Chris Christie, who’s dropped to third. (Mike Huckabee isn’t mentioned, either.) That’s basically primary polling noise this far out.