It isn’t time to get too excited (or, alternatively, slit your wrists) over the widely-trumpeted USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll headlined: “Poll majority say they’d be likely to vote for Clinton.” What’s being reported is that 53% of respondents say they’d be likely to vote for Hillary Clinton if she runs in ’08. True enough. But here’s the breakdown: 29% are “very likely” to vote for her, while 24% are “somewhat likely.” That 29% represents the hard-core support for the Democratic Party; those people would vote for anyone the Dems nominate. The remaining 24% are “soft” Democrats and swing voters who are willing to consider voting for Hillary, given that no opponent is specified in the question.
The fact that 53% of poll respondents will, in the abstract, seriously consider voting for any given Democratic candidate for President is hardly surprising, especially when the poll is taken over a weekend, and is not, I suspect, a survey of likely voters. Conversely, 39% said they are “not at all likely” to vote for Clinton. That represents the hard-core support for the Republican party, plus some additional voters who just can’t stand Hillary. This doesn’t strike me as a particularly impressive performance; it took John Kerry a long time to get his negatives that high. Moreover, despite Hillary’s tireless efforts to cast herself as a moderate, most people aren’t buying it. 54% said they consider her a liberal, while only 30% called her a moderate. Bear in mind that the 30% includes an unknown number of liberals who actually believe Hillary is one of them, but know that it’s in her interest to call her a moderate.
On the whole, this isn’t an especially impressive poll performance. I think it’s true that some voters have forgotten why they ultimately found Mrs. Clinton so annoying. But if she runs in ’08, they may be reminded.
UPDATE: RedState has more, including the observation that Democrats outnumbered Republicans in the sample by 51% to 40%. That’s too far from the actual numbers for the poll to have any value, as reported.
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