Perhaps after a year-long plunge in both popularity and a sense of inevitability, Hillary Clinton was due for a break. According to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, her plunge in at least the former appears to have plateaued, at least for the moment. Instead of the 45/53 of late August, she has improved to 47/49 — a change within the margin of error, but perhaps a refreshing break for Team Hillary nonetheless:
New polling data from The Washington Post and ABC News, though, paints a different picture. Since August, Clinton’s approval rating is . . . up slightly, to 47 percent from 45 percent. Her net favorability — the percentage of people who view her positively minus those who view her negatively — is up six points.
Yes, well, don’t read too much into it. The WaPo/ABC series has traditionally been friendly to Hillary; it inexplicably found her favorability rating at 52/45 in July, when every other polling series had red lights flashing. Besides, this data comes from the larger sample of random adults. Among registered voters, there’s hardly been a change; Hillary went from 43/56 in August to 45/52 now — an improvement, but within the MOE and hardly substantial.
The issue may be more that she’s losing ground among Democrats in comparison to her competitors:
Clinton’s net favorability didn’t change among Democrats, we’ll note, while both Bernie Sanders and non-candidate-and-maybe-never-candidate Joe Biden saw improvements with Democrats. Clinton gained with independents — and Republicans, where she essentially had nowhere to go but up. Biden saw the biggest gain in net favorability with Republicans, though, gaining 12 points.
Don’t read much into these changes, either. Biden went from 26/69 to 30/60 among Republicans, probably due more to hopefulness that Biden would jump into the race and challenge Hillary. The numbers for all three Democrats have not changed dramatically in the last six weeks in this poll series, with one exception. Both Hillary and Biden have improved recently among women, 11 and 12 points in the gap respectively, while Sanders has remained essentially static.
This is still Hillary’s problem:
Random adults, which should be the most favorable sample for Hillary Clinton, have almost all reached some sort of conclusion about her. Among registered voters, only 3% don’t have an opinion about her, as opposed to 10% for Biden and 26% for Sanders. Hillary has no upside; she holds no surprises for voters, and that will make it difficult to “reboot” her as a candidate. The traditional way to deal with this situation is to go heavily negative on the competition, but in this cycle that’s tremendously risky, as voters desperately want a change from politics as usual.
Either Hillary has to find a way to suddenly become authentic and personable, or Democrats are going to have a very bad electoral cycle.