The new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows Hillary Clinton maintaining her lead … in a race of one. Absent any other realistic choice, Democratic primary voters still support the only option they have. Still, the polling shows her unfavorables rising significantly, and she’s not exactly wowing in head-to-head matchups against much lesser known Republican rivals:
Hillary Clinton’s stature has been battered after more than a month of controversy over her fundraising and email practices, but support for her among Democrats remains strong and unshaken, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.
In just seven weeks, a period in which Mrs. Clinton formally began her presidential campaign, the share of people with a negative view of her jumped to 42% from 36% in last month’s survey, and only a quarter of registered voters said they viewed her as honest and straightforward, down from 38% last summer. …
But the poll also found signs that negative views of Mrs. Clinton are growing among the swing voters she would need in the general election. Among independents, the share of people viewing her negatively grew to 48% from 34% last month.
“I used to be a very avid supporter of Hillary Clinton,” said poll participant Don Friedman, an independent from California. Now, “I’m beginning to wonder. She doesn’t seem to be open to the media about specifics about her plans for the administration, should she win.”
The problem in all of these numbers in a poll at this stage is that it’s only really measuring the impact of name recognition. The Clintons have spent the last 15 years preparing for a nomination for the presidency, failing to achieve it in 2008 but still planning on another go-around. Hillary has made herself ubiquitous on the national stage during that time, with eight years in the Senate, another four at State, and then a book tour last year before launching her campaign last month.
With that kind of visibility, she should be swamping out Republican contenders, especially governors with much lower national profiles. Instead, in a D+9 sample (31/22/40), Hillary holds leads barely outside the partisan difference:
- 49/43 over Jeb Bush
- 50/40 over Scott Walker
- 49/43 over Marco Rubio
- 47/44 over Rand Paul
To grasp the issue, note that only 2% of respondents don’t know Hillary well enough to judge her favorably or unfavorably, and she gets a 42/42 — and 32% respond very negatively. In contrast, 31% of people don’t know Rubio well enough, 21% for Rand Paul, 27% for Ted Cruz, and a whopping 50% for Scott Walker. The upside potential for all Republicans is high, while Hillary’s gone about as far as she can go — and they’re all within range of her in this poll.
If the electorate turns out more like the last two midterms than the Obama-coalition turnouts of 2008 and 2012 (roughly D+7 in both cases), then Hillary is already in very serious trouble, and there isn’t much potential for improvement.