Democrats want someone, anyone, to challenge Hillary in the primaries

Democrats may be #ReadyForHillary, but they’re split on whether she should be coronated without a primary fight.

According to a recent Monmouth University poll, Clinton remains the Democratic Party’s favorite to succeed Barack Obama in the White House. 48 percent of self-identified Democrats and Democratic “leaners” told Monmouth pollsters they want to see Clinton win the nomination. No other Democrat comes close to that level of support within the party.

“Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is named by 6%, independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is named by 2%, and Vice President Joe Biden is named by 2%,” Monmouth University’s write up of this survey read.

Clinton’s dominance among Democrats may not merely be a function of her universal name recognition. Monmouth asked respondents to volunteer a preferred Democratic candidate for 2016 without providing survey participants with a list of options and found that about 60 percent were able to volunteer a potential candidate.

While Democrats are engaged in the nomination process already and Clinton is their candidate of choice, they do not want to entirely cede a lively nomination process to the Republicans.

About 4-in-10 (43%) Democratic voters think it would be better if the party got behind Clinton early in the nominating process, but more (48%) say it would be better if she faced an active primary challenge. Democratic men (56%) are more likely than women (42%) to prefer a contested nomination. While most self-professed Clinton supporters (53%) would like to see the field cleared for her, a significant number (41%) would actually like to see their favored candidate face an active challenge for the nomination.

“Clinton’s total is down from the roughly 60 percent she had received in recent polls, and there is a high number of undecided people in the poll, 32 percent,” The Hill observed. “That could reflect the question, which was open-ended, with no names listed as choices.”

Moreover, the Monmouth poll seems to reflect a tiny bit of buyers’ remorse among Democrats who sent Barack Obama to the top of the ticket and eventually to the White House in 2008. 28 percent of respondents say that “things would have been better” if Clinton had defeated Obama in 2008, while only 7 percent say they would have been “worse.”

That has to sting for the president’s remaining allies, especially those who are already suspicious of Clinton’s progressive bona fides. For the 300 former operatives who worked on Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns but are now actively seeking to draft Warren into the race, the last thing they want to see is a pronounced sentiment among Democrats that the Obama years were a mistake. If that sentiment continues to grow, it will not only doom a progressive challenger but set progressive politics back a generation.

Clinton likely sees this, which is why she has been adeptly shifting from populism to centrist pragmatism depending on the audience she is addressing.

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