Imagine the smiles on the faces of Fox News’s pollsters when they tossed a question about a Trump/Clinton rematch into their latest poll and came back with this result, knowing how it would piss off you-know-who. He slams them on Twitter every time they cough up a bad number for him on impeachment or in head-to-head match-ups with the likes of Joe Biden.
So they went full troll and decided to poll him head-to-head with Clinton, doubtless realizing how much it would irritate him to be told that the overall electorate still prefers her to him.
No, really, though, contrary to first impressions, this isn’t a good result for her:
For starters, the rest of the Democratic top tier does better against Trump than she does. Biden leads by 12 in the same poll, Sanders by eight, and Warren by five. Clinton would be the weakest option on the table. If she’s really thinking about running, she’d want a blockbuster head-to-head number against Trump in surveys like this to steal Biden’s “electability” thunder and give wary Democratic voters a reason to support her against their better judgment. Instead, when Fox asked Democrats if they’re satisfied with their current primary choices or if they wish there were other options, more than two-thirds (69 percent) said they were satisfied. They’re not going to be dazzled by Hillary pulling 43 percent against Trump while Biden’s pulling 51.
Moreover, we were reminded this morning by a different poll that national numbers don’t really matter. Swing states do. Now, as it turns out, according to the Times, Hillary 2016 polls reasonably well against Trump in battlegrounds relative to the rest of the current Democratic top tier:
She’s stronger than the big three among blacks and Latinos and she’s stronger than Warren in virtually every demographic, by a considerable margin in some. Biden, however, outpolls her among better-educated and less-educated whites and is comparable among nonwhites, so there’s a stronger electability argument for him than there is for Clinton. And it must be stressed: Clinton’s numbers here reflect how she did in 2016, they don’t project how she’d do against Trump in 2020. It’s possible if not likely that she’d fare worse this time due to his incumbency and the stigma of having lost once before. Progressives would resent her for “stealing” yet another nomination from superior left-wing candidates and might stay home. The 2016 swing state numbers up above may represent the *best* Clinton can do, which we know from experience ain’t enough to actually get to 270. It’s asking a lot to ask primary voters to double down on someone whom they know for a fact is capable of losing instead of placing a bet on someone else when the stakes are this high.
In fact, Fox also asked Democratic primary voters whether they’d support Clinton if she jumped into the race. Just 27 percent said they definitely would, which is strong enough to place her in the top tier but nowhere near strong enough to make her a strong favorite. She’d have to battle, and she’d have to do so while getting blasted from all sides — from Warren and Sanders, alarmed that an underwhelming centrist and Wall Street favorite was riding into the race, and from Biden, alarmed that Hillary’s “electability” case has already been tried and found wanting. The Harvard/Harris poll that Jazz posted this morning found the same thing. Clinton would be instantly competitive, trailing Biden by just a point, but no more than that. It might even be that she and Grandpa Joe would divide the centrist vote, enabling Warren or Sanders to win the early states and race out to an insurmountable lead.
As it turns out, there is a Democrat out there who could jump into the primary and immediately become the likely nominee, but she’s been clear in saying that she’s not running:
Fifty-eight percent of Democratic women say they’re all-in on Michelle Obama if she jumps in and another 35 percent would consider supporting her. The numbers for Hillary, by comparison, are 29 and 41 percent. Meh.
Two more interesting but unrelated results from the Fox poll for you in lieu of an exit question. One: The public splits almost evenly on impeaching and removing Trump, 49/45, but of the 45 percent who oppose impeachment, 34 percent say they’re open to having their minds changed if new evidence emerges. (57 percent say they aren’t.) That’s more than I would have expected given the loyalty of Trump’s supporters. Two: When Democrats are asked if they believe a particular candidate can beat Trump, the shares who say yes about Biden, Warren, and Sanders all exceed 50 percent. Ask about Pete Buttigieg and the number collapses to 30 percent. It’s pretty clear why. I wonder what happens if Buttigieg wins Iowa, where he’s invested heavily, and suddenly New Hampshire and other early-state voters have to make a snap judgment about whether to gamble on him as nominee or not.