Anyone have a tape measure I can borrow? I need to measure some drapes.
No, no, I kid. The head-to-head match-ups in this poll mean nothing but the data on Hillary’s deteriorating image is — *mwah* — magnifique. First, the irrelevant yet sexy numbers showing her losing to Bush, Walker, and Rubio in Iowa, Virginia, and Colorado. It’s a perfect matrix of Democratic failure.
Great stuff … except that lots of voters in those states couldn’t pick the Republicans out of a line-up right now and have yet to digest a single Democratic attack ad. Those margins will change as the major players become more familiar and the parties start to clash. What might not change, or at least not as much, are Hillary’s own disastrous numbers on key character traits. Remember, Obama won all three of these states in both of his elections; her strategy next year is to replicate his coalition as much as possible. How’s that going to work with favorable ratings like this?
That’s why she trails Marco Rubio and Scott Walker even though most voters don’t know who Marco Rubio and Scott Walker are. Given her enormous fame, the election’s probably destined to become a sort of referendum on Hillary no matter what, but it’s almost a pure referendum on her right now considering how little known her competition is. The results here are straightforward: She’s a terrible retail politician, people don’t like her, so they’re choosing the Republican when asked who they support. In fact, she’s so disliked that even Bernie Sanders fares no worse head-to-head with any of the GOP candidates in this poll.
And it’s not just a matter of not liking her. More dangerously, it’s a matter of not trusting her:
I’ve never thought that would sink her, simply because being untrustworthy is already priced into the Clintons’ stock, but maybe the sheer accumulation of dubious revelations so early in the campaign — the e-mail server, the Clinton Foundation — is already wearing people out. Maybe some voters were willing to accept another shady Clinton as president so long as the scandals were more discreet and less frequent this time. Instead they’ve got a snoutful of reminders already of just how exhausting a third Clinton term would be.
Still, there are more important things than trustworthiness to voters — which would be good news for Hillary if she wasn’t failing badly on those measures too. These numbers are especially brutal given that this was Obama’s great strength against Romney three years ago:
Romney topped Obama in a variety of metrics in the 2012 exit poll but got creamed when people were asked which candidate cares more about the problems of people like them. Losing that advantage is a bigger problem for Hillary than being seen as untrustworthy, I think. That’s why she’s pushing left-wing populism, however implausibly, so hard this time. It’s not just a matter of wanting to impress liberals by stealing Elizabeth Warren’s and Bernie Sanders’s agenda. It’s her way of trying to improve her image as someone who cares about the little guy.
Anyway. One amazing detail that you won’t find in Quinnipiac’s write-up of the poll but will find in the crosstabs for each state is the gender gap. Have a look at the very first page of the Iowa, Virginia, and Colorado results and note how Hillary fares with men versus women in her head-to-head match-ups with various Republicans. She wins women consistently, often by large margins — but she’s also losing men consistently by even wider, sometimes huge, margins. Colorado especially shows astounding gender gaps, with Hillary beating Rubio and Walker there by 10 and 11 points, respectively, among women … while losing men by 26 and 28 points, respectively. Scroll down to the bottom of the crosstabs for the results of the questions about whether she’s trustworthy and cares about the problems of people like you and you’ll find the same thing. In Colorado, just a slight plurality of women say she’s not trustworthy at 45/48. Among men, that number is … 22/76. Fifty percent of women say she cares about the problems of people like them versus 44 percent who say she doesn’t. Among men that split is … 28/69. The gaps are smaller in Iowa and Virginia (although only slightly smaller in Iowa), but they’re still there. Hillary’s victory next year depends entirely on building a margin with women that’s so huge — First! Woman! President! — that Republicans can’t hope to offset it with men. Today’s numbers suggest that she may have trouble doing that. If so, she’s sunk.
Exit question via John McCormack: Doesn’t this poll prove that Trump’s not hurting the GOP (yet) in key swing states? His favorable numbers are worse than anyone else’s, Hillary included, and yet she’s still trailing the Republican top tier?