The good news from the Washington Post/ABC News poll this morning? A solid majority of Americans think Hillary Clinton should have been indicted over the e-mail scandal rather than getting a pass from James Comey last week. The bad news? Half of them would still make her President:
A majority of Americans disapproves of the FBI‘s recommendation not to charge Hillary Clintonwith a crime over her handling of email while secretary of state, and a similar number in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll say the issue leaves them worried about how she’d handle her responsibilities as president if elected.
Most also say the email controversy won’t affect their vote choice in the presidential election. But more say it leaves them less rather than more likely to support Clinton, 28 percent vs. 10 percent.
Here’s the chart from the pollster, which is a little easier to read than ABC’s:
So … 56% think Hillary should have been charged, but only 28% say it will make them less likely to vote for her? We have a low bar for presidential candidates these days, it appears. Here’s a question that might keep readers awake at night — would the “less likely” percentage of people have increased with an indictment? Would it have even gotten to 40% if it had increased?
And, by the way, that 28% is probably a high-water mark for Hillary skepticism in relation to the e-mail scandal. Expect that to start dropping after the convention. By Election Day, few mentions of it will be made at all, because it will be “old news” and we will be told that the nation has “moved on.” As I wrote last week for The Fiscal Times, without an indictment, no one will care:
Short of an indictment, this statement will barely rattle the narratives of the campaign. Even the media outlets that rushed to produce damning fact-checks of Clinton’s statements didn’t bother to ask the deeper questions about what those lies, and the violations of laws and regulations by a Cabinet official said about her character or how she would approach the presidency if elected. It took almost no time for the media to contextualize this into the horse-race dynamic of the election alone – and for the same media to seize on a months-old Donald Trump trope about Saddam Hussein to balance the news cycle of the day.
By the next morning, the news that Republicans had called Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch to the House Oversight Committee to answer questions about the probe allowed another horse-race shift in the media. Instead of Hillary Clinton’s corruption, thecentral question morphed into whether Republicans would “overreach.”
In the end, this corruption and contempt for the rule of law will matter little to voters, even if it should. The values that would have made this scandal disqualifying with or without an indictment have faded, replaced by cynical utilitarianism for one’s own hobbyhorses and an unrelenting obsession with the immediate over the timeless pillars of character and integrity. It’s easy to blame the candidates, or even the media, but all they do is reflect the electorate and the consumer market of both. We have gotten what we deserve.
Of course, this is just one poll, and there will certainly be several more this week on the topic. It’s also a relatively small sample — 519 adults, with a margin of error of five points. But don’t hold your breath waiting for the American electorate to hold Hillary Clinton accountable for her actions.