Democrats like to argue that demographics are destiny. If so, they’re headed for disaster, as long as Hillary Clinton remains the front-runner for the nomination. A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows her favorability ratings shrinking, most significantly among two demographics considered key to Democratic turnout. The WSJ report focuses on one particular subgroup:
Many Democrats have long hoped that Hillary Clinton might expand Barack Obama‘s electoral coalition by drawing in more white women voters.
A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll suggests she may have a tough time pulling it off. Mrs. Clinton is losing ground with white women and many other important slices of the electorate, the poll shows, amid a spate of reports about her email practices, speaking fees and foreigndonations to the Clinton Foundation.
In June, 44% of white women had a favorable view of Mrs. Clinton, compared to 43% who didn’t. In July, those numbers moved in the wrong direction for Mrs. Clinton: Only 34% of white women saw her in a positive light, compared to 53% who had a negative impression of her, the poll found.
That’s a problem, but one that Democrats have had in the past, too. As Peter Nicholas points out, Mitt Romney won that subgroup by 14 points in 2012. The scope of the problem is what should worry Democrats, especially since one of the main premises of the Hillary Clinton campaign is the opportunity for women to make history by electing the first woman President. Either that message isn’t as compelling as Democrats thought, or Hillary herself isn’t.
That’s not the big story, though — this graph is:
Look at the slide in these key demos within the Democratic coalition. In just one month, Hillary has lost nearly 10 points among all women, and is now underwater. Her negatives have jumped significantly among independents to a majority (27/52), and close to a plurality among younger voters. In all three cases, the number of neutrals declined at the same time, which means less opportunity to correct the trend. Even among black voters, a constituency that Democrats must have both engaged and enthusiastic in order to win, a significant drop in favorability has taken place. She went from 81/3 to 66/15 in thirty days.
It’s not just the suburban-mom vote. It’s across the board in almost every demo that matters. And this collapse is happening fast, suggesting once again that the more people see Hillary Clinton, the less they like her.
Nichols offers Democrats one lifeline at the end:
If Mrs. Clinton wants some comfort in the latest poll numbers, she can look to history. Back in 1992, a Democratic candidate named Bill Clinton also grappled with a poor negative image. In the summer before the presidential election that year, only 30% had a positive view of Mr. Clinton; 38% saw him in a negative light.
He went on to become the nation’s 42nd president.
Yeah, but. In 1992, people hardly knew Bill Clinton, and the exposure of his infidelity did some damage. At 30/38, though, Bill had plenty of upside left and a lot of political talent with which to woo the neutrals and the soft opposition, and his peccadilloes were seen as personal. Hillary Clinton has had 23 years in the spotlight since that time, and the scandals in which she’s mired are related to public corruption, not private relationships. Even if there were people who don’t know Hillary well enough to be persuaded, she clearly lacks the natural political talent that Bill has, or her favorables wouldn’t be collapsing, especially among otherwise loyal Democratic constituencies.