The most re­cent round of polling il­lus­trates the emer­ging fun­da­ment­als. Demo­crat­ic poll­ster Stan Green­berg, who has been un­der­scor­ing the im­port­ance of turn­ing out the “rising Amer­ic­an elect­or­ate,” re­leased polling this month show­ing Clin­ton trail­ing Trump in Ohio, and only lead­ing him by one point in Col­or­ado and by two points in Flor­ida. Right now, Green­berg con­cluded, core ele­ments of the party’s base are not en­thused to vote in the up­com­ing pres­id­en­tial elec­tion. With a more main­stream Re­pub­lic­an tested, it’s likely Clin­ton would be trail­ing in all those battle­grounds. The Mar­quette Law School poll, the gold stand­ard of polling in the Demo­crat­ic-friendly Badger State, showed Clin­ton trail­ing Marco Ru­bio by a point, 48 to 47 per­cent. Fox’s New Hamp­shire polling showed Clin­ton in a dead heat against most op­pon­ents, but trail­ing Ru­bio by sev­en points and Jeb Bush/John Kasich by three.

Na­tion­ally, Clin­ton badly trails most GOP rivals in the latest Quin­nipi­ac and Fox polls. (She trails Ru­bio by five in Quin­nipi­ac’s na­tion­al sur­vey and eight in the FOX poll.) In this month’s NBC/Wall Street Journ­al poll, she’s tied with Ben Car­son and only nar­rowly leads Ru­bio and Bush. This, des­pite the dis­pro­por­tion­ate at­ten­tion to the GOP field’s chaos, from Trump’s out­rageous state­ments to the field’s right­ward march on im­mig­ra­tion. If Demo­crats are con­tent to dis­miss the polling trends as in­sig­ni­fic­ant, they’re whist­ling past the polit­ic­al grave­yard.

Even though Obama’s not on the bal­lot again, his pres­ence will dom­in­ate the tra­ject­ory of the 2016 elec­tion. If he con­tin­ues to use his fi­nal two years in of­fice to burn­ish a pro­gress­ive leg­acy even when his views run against the de­sires of the pub­lic, Clin­ton will bear the brunt of the back­lash. The pres­id­ent’s base-first strategy has po­lar­ized the coun­try to such a de­gree that it’s hard to see any of his de­tract­ors even con­sid­er­ing vot­ing for a Demo­crat in the next pres­id­en­tial elec­tion.