Yesterday, CNN’s poll suggested that Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal hadn’t dented her support for a potential presidential run. Not so fast, says Reuters. Not only has support for a Hillary run dropped in the past month after two scandals emerged, it’s dropped below 50% — among Democrats:
Democratic support for Hillary Clinton’s expected presidential campaign is softening amid controversy over her use of personal email when secretary of state, but most Democrats are for now sticking by their party’s presumed candidate.
Support for Clinton’s candidacy has dropped about 15 percentage points since mid February among Democrats, with as few as 45 percent saying they would support her in the last week, according to a Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll. Support from Democrats likely to vote in the party nominating contests has dropped only slightly less, to a low in the mid-50s over the same period.
Even Democrats who said they were not personally swayed one way or another by the email flap said that Clinton could fare worse because of it, if and when she launches her presidential campaign, a separate Reuters/Ipsos poll showed.
Reuters’ data in a separate poll also shows that the e-mail scandal has penetrated rather far into the political consciousness of voters. Two-thirds of Democrats have heard about it, and one-third believe it will hurt a Hillary Clinton campaign. That number rises to 44% among independents. Half of all respondents want Congress to force Hillary to testify about the e-mails server, including 46% of Democrats. The separate poll isn’t a small survey, either; the sample for this poll included more than 2100 respondents.
The data from Reuters’ tracking polls — shown in 5-day rolling averages, among Democrats — depicts a campaign in free-fall over the last six weeks:
On February 7th, Hillary hit her peak for 2015 on the Reuters tracking poll, with a five-day average of 61.6%. On February 17th, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Clinton Foundation had taken millions from foreign governments while Hillary was Secretary of State, and the e-mail scandal broke three weeks later. By March 9th, her support dropped to 47%, and rebounded to 50% briefly after her UN presser. Now, though, it’s well below the majority mark at 45% and dropping.
However, Hillary’s loss is no one’s gain, at least for the moment. Joe Biden peaked at 21% in mid-February, but he’s down to 12.4% now, and he’s running second. Elizabeth Warren, who would seem to be the political beneficiary of any Hillary stumble, has watched her stock drop during Hillary’s swoon. Almost as many (9.3%) would refuse to vote in a Democratic primary as would support Warren (9.8%).
Jill Lawrence chalks this up to fatigue:
Everyone over a certain age remembers at least some of the strains, tragedies and transitions of national life in the 1990s: The first Baby Boomer president; the first feminist First Lady; the eruption of the digital age; the federal siege against a Waco encampment that killed 75 cult members and their leader; the suicide of White House counsel Vince Foster, a longtime Clinton family friend; the affairs and lawsuits and investigations –Whitewater, Travelgate, Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, Monica Lewinsky, Kenneth Starr, impeachment.
Look it up, kids. Some of it was fake or unproven or hyperpartisan, but some of it was real. Clinton fatigue cannot be dismissed as exaggerated political hypochondria.
Yet it would be unfair to count that as a mark against Hillary Clinton as she bids to put another Clinton in the White House. Every exhausting presidency is exhausting in its own way, as Leo Tolstoy would have put it. And make no mistake, most presidencies are exhausting, or would be if they were happening now.
That’s true, and is a hallmark of second terms, especially in post-war America. (Be sure to read Jill’s “historical tweets,” too.) However, usually the fatigue doesn’t hit until someone becomes President. If Clinton fatigue is a factor already, then Democrats had better have a Plan B — one that doesn’t involve Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren.