Hillary’s not going to run this year but the episode with Gabbard is a nice reminder of how poor her political acumen is. Remember that the point of her “Russian asset” critique of Gabbard was her fear/suspicion that Tulsi would ultimately decide to run as a third-party candidate, siphoning off votes from the Democratic nominee and enabling a second Trump term. Did it not occur to her that attacking Gabbard in such sensational terms, given her status as the reigning Democratic nominee and the public’s anxiety about Russia meddling in the campaign, would generate weeks of free publicity for Tulsi?

Every longshot candidate in the field would relish the buzz that would come with having Hillary Clinton pick a fight with them. Hillary picked the one who conceivably *could* run third-party and handed her the PR bonanza instead, possibly increasing the likelihood of an independent Gabbard candidacy.

Watching this dunderheaded backfire play out, the decision not to bother visiting Wisconsin three years ago seems almost inevitable in hindsight.

Anyway, Gabbard’s still milking it. You can read the full letter from her attorneys here. This demand from Clinton is pretty, uh, specific:

Probably not gonna happen. But the good news for Gabbard is that it doesn’t matter: She may have already gotten what she wanted out of this Clinton feud. Check out the numbers in Quinnipiac’s newest poll of New Hampshire.

The top four are all bunched up in the 15-20 percent range. Next comes … Tulsi Gabbard, at six percent.

Kamala Harris, who’s all but abandoned the state, is at one percent.

Two points about Gabbard’s numbers. One, surprisingly, is that they’re not as flukey as you might think. The last poll of New Hampshire put her at five percent and several others since August have had her in that same range. Her poll average is exactly four percent in RCP’s average, slightly better than Andrew Yang and good for fifth overall. The second point has to do with the ideological composition of her support in New Hampshire. Look again at the table above and you’ll find her polling very poorly among her ostensible ideological cohort, left-wing liberals. It’s among moderate/conservative Democrats that she surges, all the way up to nine percent. The story is similar when you compare voters by party affiliation. Among Democrats she’s at just one percent — but among independents she’s at 10, good enough to tie Elizabeth Warren in that category.

That quirk in her polling also explains why Gabbard hasn’t seen any similar surge in national surveys or in polls of Iowa and South Carolina. What’s happening, it seems, is that centrist voters in New Hampshire who are eligible to vote in the Democratic contest have encountered her on Fox News or in other righty media and are lining up behind her. That is, for all her progressive positioning, Tulsi is a sort of right-wing phenomenon even in her own primary. All the more reason for her to keep publicizing Clinton’s comments about her. The more she can harness Hillary hatred among right-ish independent voters, the better she’ll do.

Here she is last week on “The View,” once again reiterating that she won’t run third-party. DNC chief Tom Perez says Gabbard assured him of that privately as well. If she’s lying about her intentions, she’s lying a lot. By the way, take one last look at that Quinnipiac data and note where Pete Buttigieg stands — at 15 percent, just five points out of the lead. That’s nothing new in Iowa, where he’s been near the top for weeks, but it’s unusual to have a poll out of New Hampshire that shows him threatening there as well. I continue to believe he’s not quite a serious threat to become the nominee but the plain fact is that he’d stand a decent chance to win both states if they voted today. Imagine Mayor Pete destroying the hopes of the two progressive candidates in the first two states and then having to battle Joe Biden for the nomination after Grandpa Joe wins South Carolina.